The end is near, or is it a New Beginning?

Mile 2,642.    8 miles to the finish.

What an adventure it has been! Bigger than we ever even imagined.

Getting ready to leave for Canada today.  I can hardly believe the end of the journey is in sight.  Even though I haven’t walked the entire trail with my own two feet, it feels as though I’ve trekked along beside Astro (Andy) every step of the way.  Always wondering when the next phone call would come, anticipating what angst he would reveal or what beauty he would interpret.  And living through it vicariously.

So many of our phone calls were filled with talks about food, what he longed for and what he was sick of.  But we had other talks too, the things reserved for a mom’s ears to hear, the fear, the excitement, the anxiety, the loneliness, the unpredictability of it all.  Even though we each experience that in our daily lives, I believe its more heightened on the trail because of that one basic need — water — the constant thought of water — when will I run out?, where will I find more? and will I have enough? — these thoughts consume much of a thru-hikers daily activity.  When do we ever wonder when our next glass of water will come from?

The plans to meet have all been laid.  But I’m holding them very lightly, because plans do change or reorganize themselves in fascinating ways, especially when it comes to Andy.  Along the trail, during our chats through the little towns that dot the PCT, we talked about the future and what he would do next.  Andy always thinks big, and I always go along.  Because quite honestly, with Andy anything is possible.

Tomorrow my dad (Andy’s Grandpa), his sister, and his best friend since kindergarten will get on early morning flights to Seattle and then rent a car and drive to Manning Park, Canada.  I’ve tried to keep this surprise under wraps, but by now Andy might already suspect there is a welcoming party at the end of this long journey.  And it’s not just family, there is also a contingency of supporters that have been inspired by his journey, and by all the PCT-thru hikers and what an amazing accomplishment this is in so many ways.  The courage, the audacity, the spirit to leave life as you know it and take an adventure into the unknown, WOW, when have you ever done that?  It can only take you more deeply into yourself and that can be a scary place sometimes, or a marvelous adventure.

Andy’s Adventure had an unexpected detour that only strengthened his resolve to carry on, to see this thing to the end.  He could have gotten off the trail, but he didn’t.  What courage, what strength.

Coming soon! This is the monument at the Washington / Canadian border that signifies the end of a long journey, a pilgrimage that takes these thru-hikers to places they never even imagined. Congratulations to all the thru-hikers who made your dream a reality. I salute you!

The future ahead is riddled with unknowns.  When I look deep into my practice as a meditator, I recognize that the unknown is the truth of all of our futures — it is really all unknown. (Well, there is one thing for certain.)  I’ve learned over these past years living with Andy’s cancer that anything is possible and right now he is vitally alive and we are vitally alive, so we are going to really LIVE and CELEBRATE this amazing accomplishment this weekend.

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16 Responses to The end is near, or is it a New Beginning?

  1. Jennifer says:

    Congrats to Andy on this huge accomplishment.

  2. Fran Abel says:

    Congratulations Astro! Have a fabulous finish and wonderful reunion with friends and family.

  3. Carol says:

    Have a wonderful trip and celebration of this milestone!

  4. Debbie says:

    Astro – You are such an inspiration! Enjoy your Celebration! I will continue to pray for you daily, I have special ordered a miracle…. just for you!

  5. Lauren says:

    Yeah Astro, can’t wait for the pictures at the monument!!!! Here’s to A New Beginning!!! ❤ Lauren

  6. Avril says:

    Andy. 🙂 202-247-7417

  7. Aleta Mueller says:

    Oh, I do hope you have a sense of how many more of us are out here celebrating this amazing accomplishment with you and your family! I greatly appreciate your sharing this adventure. Such an inspiration 🙂 Live and celebrate, YES!

  8. I’m simply amazed!!! Congratulations

  9. Donald Doran says:

    From Loyola, I have followed your journey, and am so proud of the way you kept going even when it was difficult. That’s a true warrior in my book. Life is not easy, but I’m convinced you have what it takes to succeed. God Bless you “Astro”

  10. Goosebumps!!!! I can hardly contain myself waiting for the completion of such an amazing journey. You and my son “Robin Hood” are a true inspiration!

  11. Ann Quilter says:

    Andy, I’ve always had a special place for you in my heart after our work team trip to Costa Rica. After all, you were THE man! Knew you were something special then but now I am overwhelmed at the young man you have become. Your courage, strength and wisdom are teaching us all about life and the importance of being. You are a remarkable and beautiful young man. CHEERS! And Mom – you are a shining light. Your courage teaches us about the strength of love. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Dorothy (from Yakima) says:

    Having just watched the video of Andy I am swept away by such depth of spirit–what a kind gentle soul. Your journey gives all of us courage–wow …
    I have written down your words about venturing into the unknown, the power of spirit, the power of the universe and letting go … opening yourself up … I and am going to pass them on to many. We are all in need of, and grateful for, your beauty and strength.

  13. MIchele says:

    “Astro”, nice warrior name for the hero’s journey, yes? Andy, I’ve been following your blog every step of the way, while getting updates from your mom. Please know you have been in my prayers. I respect the heck out of your journey–both external and internal. Go for it! Hope you don’t mind that I shared your trip with Cheryl Strayed. 🙂 Much Metta to you, Dr M

  14. Funhog says:

    Andy Rules!

  15. cathy says:

    Hi, Astro, it was such an honor to finally meet you, your mom, your family and Team Astro as you finished an amazing journey! We didn’t know you until very late. In the last few weeks, you have been in our thoughts every day and every time the weather changes, rain starts and wind blows….To be part of the celebration at the PCT trail head, it was very very special and a dream come true for us!
    To Betsy, thank you so much for sharing Andy with us! Thank you for taking us along on this wonderful journey!

    Astro, as you begin your new journey, I’d like to share with you the opening lines from Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”, which I read yesterday and with it I sent you my best wishes to you and your family –
    “Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
    Healthy, free, the world before me,
    The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

    Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
    Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
    Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
    Strong and content I travel the open road.”


  16. Linda Grossman says:

    Hi Andy! I trust you made it, buoyed up by miracles, angels, and your indomitable spirit. Can’t wait to see you in Laguna. Cam and Austie say hi. We are all so proud of you! – Linda

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