Home is Where the Heart is
It has been one and a half months since I have started the grand ambition of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail and am pleased where the journey has taken me. My goal has been to become a Mountain Lady and I always joke with others that I am becoming a little too Mountains and not enough Lady, especially after a fail to paint my nails at the hostel this morning. (I joked that I should change my name to Mountain Person instead of lady and just go by Mope…)
Either way, I am happy to be a mountain person/lady. I never thought it would be possible, but I actually feel more home in the woods than in town. Instead of craving my next town visit, I try to avoid towns by staying on the trail as much as possible. I receive my food through mail drops and, typically, it is easy to pick-up my packages close to the trail. (Much love to Momma Bear for her help on this!)
Towns are loud and disruptive compared to the carefree life on the trail. I remember how hard it was to hike without my Ipad, but I am glad that I don’t have the added distraction (and weight) while on the trail. I can officially say that the woods are my home (and where my heart is) and I am quite happy there. 🙂
The hardest decision of every day is to decide where to camp for the night. Usually we hike until we get a certain vibe from the ambiance created from the mixture of people and scenery. However, sometimes you get the vibe too early and decide to push on until you get the right mix again. Sometimes you push on too much and end up with just a satisfactory location, but usually we are treated to scenes out of a story book. In Virginia, my favorite campsites have been beside rivers and waterfalls with my little tent nuzzled under rhododendrons in order to protect me from the rain.
Besides the woods, my heart is also with the people on the trail. It is amazing how fast friendships develop on the trail and I have been privileged to walk with so many people. Since Irwin, I have had a trail family with two others- Sequoia and Jumanji. I have hiked alone and with groups and have found that finding the perfect mix is key. Being an extroverted person, I enjoy having others to enjoy a perfect moment together with a picnic in a meadow and to get through the hard days of being caught in a torrential downpour. We go through the good and the bad together, at least until recently. Our group had big days going into and out of Damascus (33 miles to get there and left with 28 miles in one day). We were on an all time high with the mileage and seeing the wild ponies in the Grayson Highlands. Life couldn’t get better, we were happy.
Then everything took a turn for the worse and we got sick one by one. Jumanji left us at Atkins to go home and recoup from an illness and a day later Sequoia also fell ill. I left Sequoia somewhere before Bland so that he could rest and take an antibiotic to get better. I thought I would be the next target and was paranoid when sickness would come for me, but luckily, it never did. However, some high mileage days and busted shoes hurt my body and I am tired, sore and regretting not taking more rest and pushing myself too much.Hiking these past few days without my trail family has been an interesting experience. At first, it was liberating to see where the day would take me without anyone else to worry about, but it quickly lost it’s appeal. Our high mileage days put us ahead of everyone we knew, so everyone on the trail and at camp was new to me. I love meeting new people, but sometimes, especially after a hard day, it is nice to have a familiar face at camp.
So here I am, in Pearisburg, Virginia. This weekend is Trail Days in Damascus, Virigina, which is a huge hiker festival, bringing in thousands upon thousands of people. Thru hikers and avid hikers congregate there for free food, gear giveaways, and to see others from the trail. The majority of thru hikers will leave the trail to go there for the weekend, so it will be exciting to see people that I haven’t seen for awhile on the trail. I also need new shoes (after 600 miles, they are falling apart and giving me blisters) and new hiking poles (mine are blistering my hands as well) that I hope to acquire from one of the many vendors there. I also have some friends driving down from Asheville and Columbus, Ohio that I am looking forward to seeing as well. This weekend will be filled with lots of love, happiness, and hopefully new gear.
After trail days it will be an interesting experience as I try to find my niche on the trail once more. Hopefully Blueberry, Sequoia, or Crumbcakes will be around to hike with once more. Either way, I love the trail and the people and my heart and home will be there until Maine (and probably even past that).
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