Day 1- In Bloom
I’m in my tent…
…Listening to the rain with a belly full of warm couscous and red beans. I went a little overboard with my measurements, so tomorrow I’ll have couscous mush for breakfast. I learned how to use bear cables for the first time about fifteen minutes ago. Definitely beats tying a knot around a rock and throwing it over a tree to hang my bear bag!
Let it be known that these Georgia mountains are kicking my arse! It’s another eight miles to the next shelter, so I decided to set up camp, chill out and enjoy my first day around the comfort of people (and a privy).
Today was nothing short of incredible. I met a woman within the first five miles standing on the side of the trail. As soon as I saw her leg braces, I knew exactly who she was; I had read her story online. I’m not sure what kind of accident she was in, but it left her paralyzed from the waist down. Instead of accepting the fate of a wheelchair, she pushed. She pushed and pushed, despite what her doctors were telling her, and now she’s hiking the Appalachian Trail. Paralyzed. She has two electronic leg braces (only 125 made in the entire world) that help her walk. There are foot plates on the bottom that can sense when her weight has shifted to the front of her foot, which causes the brace to bend her knees. Unfortunately, when I met her, her braces had run out of charge. With no juice, the braces will lock in place to keep her upright. Here she was, backpack and everything, in the middle of the trail, without being able to bend her knees. And you know what?
She could not stop smiling.
She could not say a word without a smile the size of Texas coming out first. I offered to help multiple times and she refused. This is her hike. She told me that any day outside, surrounded by beauty, was better than a day staring out of hospital windows. When I left, I made sure I was well out of eyesight and I tried walking with locked knees. I could barely take a few steps. She was able to hike another mile to a road crossing where someone picked her up to take her indoors where she could charge her leg braces again. Im sure she’ll be out and back at it tomorrow.
There’s a saying that I kept mulling over throughout my day. It’s actually a poem, by Rudy Francisco.
Instead of asking why they left
now I ask,
What beauty will I create,
in the space they no longer
For those of you who know me well, you know that today marks the anniversary of my mother passing away. This is one of the main reasons for my hike. It’s not that I am trying to forget or cover anything up, but instead I want to create something beautiful. There’s been a hole in my heart for so long and rather than accept it’s residence, I want to plant something and let it bloom for a lifetime.
That’s what I’m doing out here.
I’m in bloom.
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