Almost two years ago, Brew and I worked with a woman named Gerry and her husband. It had been Gerry’s lifelong dream to hike the Appalachian Trail and now in her mid-60’s she was ready to turn that dream into a reality. Her husband was planning to support his hike on her endeavor, similar to how Brew supported me on the A.T. Record, but at a much slower pace.

We met with them to discuss the logistics, planning and emotional toll of a supported hike. They also attended Warren Doyle’s Appalachian Trail Institute to further increase their knowledge and expertise. Gerry was as prepared as anyone could have been to hike the trail.

All spring I followed Gerry’s updates as she made progress on the trail. She was going through the same highs and lows of most thru-hikers, and she seemed to be truly embracing the trail experience. The main thing that stood out to me in her entries, however, was how the experience strengthened and deepened the partnership with her husband – even after 42 years of marriage.

Almost two weeks ago, the unthinkable happened. Gerry went missing. She did not show up at the road crossing where her husband was waiting for her, and after 10 days of exhaustive searching she still has not been found. I do not know what happened to Gerry. I am aware that the stretch of trail where she disappeared is one of the most remote and unrelenting stretches on the A.T. I not only missed a meet-up with Brew in that region in 2008, but in 2011 I experienced a very hair-raising ford across the Carrabassett River.

Over the past few days, I have felt hopeful and hopeless, often sad, and sometimes guilty for encouraging Gerry to pursue her dream. But most of all I just think about her husband. I know what it is like to have the one you love support your dreams. And I know what I felt when there were harrowing moments that made me second guess my decisions and my adventure.

I wish I knew what happened to Gerry and I trust that time will reveal the answers. I can only speculate what went through her head right before she went missing. But having shared a similar adventure, I know what would pass through my mind in those moments.

- I would think about Brew. I would want him to know how much I loved him and also that our love was my biggest, best, and most beautiful adventure.

- I would want to apologize for any pain and hurt that I caused my husband. I would hope that he doesn’t think that it was selfish of me to take a risk and have an adventure. And if he does, I would ask for his forgiveness.

- I would want him to know that I never loved him more or felt more connected to him, than when he actively supported my dream. And I would thank him, thank him for letting me follow my heart.

- I would not want my disappearance to taint anyone, especially Brew’s, opinion of the wilderness. If I had to pick a place to lose myself – this would be it.

- And finally, I would want Brew to know that now it is his turn to forge ahead, follow his heart, and reach for his dreams. It is time for him to finish what we started, perhaps not on the trail, but in life. The separation is only temporary. It is only a small stretch that he will have to hike on his own. I promise to be his unseen support. And you better believe, I will be there waiting for him at the next road crossing.