Interlude (July 8, 2023 – early September, 2023)

If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. Deepak Chopra

Interlude (definition):  a short period when a situation or activity is different from what comes before and after it (Cambridge Dictionary).

We decided to wait out the rain in Ohio.  The ten day forecast continued to call for rain in the Northern New England states.  Vermont requested and received FEMA funds due to the results of record rains causing flooding and mudslides.  The ATC sent out text blasts requesting hikers in VT to come off the trail.  While at home, we learned that the Kennebec River ferry was temporarily shut down due to flooding.  Our friends in Maine described the soggy conditions in their state:  specifically the boat docks were under water and the trails were a sloppy, slippery mess.  Mid-September Hurricane Lee  left its marks.

We waited and considered our options.  One thought would be to turn our flip flop into a Leap-Frog and jump back to Harpers Ferry to head south.  We would LEAP up to VT, NH and Maine in 2024. Then the fires began in Virginia starting in the Shenandoah National Park and trail reroutes occurred due to bear activity (Note: Not the Yogi Bear kind).  

We waited and wondered if God/Higher Power/Nature was giving us a message.   Will we make the right decision?

Interlude Music:  Here comes the sun by the Beatles, Arthur’s theme song from PBS kids and Detours by Hank Thompson.  


malchus stafa, b. Buzzard’s Roost Trail, Ohio. Author’s personal collection, Aug. 2023.


  • Following 2023 Bloggers and Vloggers on their Journeys. 
  • Growing Vegetables.  If you can’t hike, grow vegetables in large containers.  We planted 3 tomatoes, 3 peppers, and 3 basil plants into big containers. 
  • Voted. We didn’t have to mail in absentee ballots in Ohio’s special election. 

malchus stafa, b. Ash Cave Forest, Ohio State Park. Author’s personal collection, Aug. 2023.

  • Serving Others and Food Insecurity.  Many folks along the trail served us, and Team Ohio wanted to give back to Central Ohio.  Mr. Rook and I are volunteers at the Dublin Food Pantry sorting vegetables.  We also transport day-old bread to the Broad Street Food Pantry.   Once a month, we helped cut up vegetables for a Saturday hot lunch at Bethany Presbyterian Church.  Food security is a big protective factor.  Thinking about Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs; the first level is about survival.  Having enough nutritious food is needed for survival (i.e.,  fruits and vegetables).  Social and health scientists also recognize food security is needed for brain development, promotes high school graduation, and can prevent violence.  Mr. Rook and I talked a lot about food on the trail and about the lack of grocery stores hikers have access to.  At home, we have had many conversations about why in a rich nation we have food insecurity and how we can fix the roots of what is needed to fix this issue.   

malchus stafa, b. Mr. Rook hiking in John Bryan State Park, Ohio. Author’s personal collection. July 2023.

  • Yoga.  I signed up for yoga classes three times a week to improve my balance: a falls prevention activity.  Yoga is helping me with both static balance (standing in one spot) and dynamic (anticipating and reacting) balance.  Self reflection, I think many of my falls could have been prevented if I had better dynamic balance.    
  • Destination Hikes.  Team Ohio drove to hiking trails outside of central Ohio to keep our hiking legs in shape.  We also created destination urban hikes from our house to coffee shops, museums or movie theaters, leaving the car at home for 6-7 miles round trip.  

malchus stafa, b. Buzzard’s Roost Trail, Ohio. Author’s personal collection. Aug 2023.

  • Tattoo Bruise.  The tattoo bruise acquired from my Wide World of Sports tumble near Shaker Campsite has turned green to amber slowly like summer into fall.  
  • Thank you Notes.  We wrote and sent thank you notes to many folks who helped or befriended us on the trail.
  • Mending and Cleaning.  We mended and cleaned our equipment.  Our rain jackets were treated with Nikwax.  It was like magic to see the rain bead up again on our gear.  I love NoSo patches.  They have turned my jackets into mini art galleries.  
  • Special Thanks.  Mary and Bob. Sarah. AZ Eagle.  Phil and Angela. Our neighbors.    

malchus stafa, b. Field of thistles. Highbanks Metro Park. Author’s personal collection. July, 2023.

Thorns and Tender Spots

  • Toenails.  1) Walking for continuous days in water wasn’t good for my toenails.  They became soft, peeling and looked yellowish.  2) I bashed my toe into a rock before I got off the trail.  Black and blue, it finally came off.  
  • Weather.  The weather in the Northeast.  We get it.  No rain; no Maine.  But, twentyish days in a row of rain is a little much.  Yes, Grandma Gatewood’s book talks about the rain she faced.  But, we were falling way too much.  If we do get back on trail, a big question is: how do we navigate this safely and not end up falling and breaking something?
  • Anxiety.  There is anxiety in not completing a thru-hike in a year.  

malchus stafa, b. A tree near Mt. Greylock  presenting a different perspective. Author’s personal collection. June 2023.

Opportunities and Other Thoughts

When we came home, I began looking at our photographs.  Deleting duplicates and reliving the hike.  I kept returning to the photograph of this tree with its bark peeling and living fully as possible with its deadly disease.  Looking at it from a different angle, the tree had joy.  I was envious of the joy it showed; my head and heart were at odds over if our decision to wait it out was the right one.

My inner critic was having a party in my head while we waited out the weather.  It needled me with phrases like: you bailed out the hike, you quit the hike, you’re a failure, you’re now only LASHER; if this was a class, a kind teacher may give you an incomplete on the unfinished hike, or maybe an F… I felt deficient and began to minimize the 600 miles we trekked.  

The tree photograph presented a different possibility: our thru hike can turn into something else like a MYTH (Multi Year Thru Hike) Making Adventure.  (NOTE:  There are several TREK bloggers that are using this phrase rather than LASHER.  Their thru-hikes ended due to injuries and family emergencies.  We also came across this term on the Trailhead).  God/universe/higher power must have heard my wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I was reminded of our hiking heroes Mike and Cathy.  It took them three times to complete the AT.  A friend pointed out Charles Darwin’s exploration trip on the Beagle was supposed to be two years; it ended up being five.  

Mr. Rook is now embracing “AT hiking tourists having too much fun,” gives me pause to think maybe our hike should be longer than a year.  I mean if you really want to do touring, right?

Again, God/universe/higher power must have heard my wailing and gnashing of teeth, because they presented Team Ohio with another opportunity.  Blogger Shannon  on a TREK feed wrote about her West Highland Way: International AT hike.  Hiking tourists take blue blazes.  Living up to our new name; we purchased tickets for a September hike in rainy Scotland last minute.   

malchus stafa, b. Birds flying or just a leaf stuck in the water? Author’s personal collection. Aug. 2023.



gfbrich. “A Myth Approach to the AT.” The Trailhead.  Aug, 2023.  A MYTH Approach to the AT — Hyperlite Community (

Harrison, George. “Here comes the Sun,” Beatles Abbey Road.  Apple, 1969.  Hear it on the Beatles official channel 

Shannon. “Walking the West Highland Way Before I Go,” 17, April 2023.  Walking the West Highland Way: Before I Go – The Trek

Thompson, Hank and the Brazos Valley Boys. “Detours,” Golden Country Hits. Capital, 1964.  Hear the song

Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. “Believe in yourself.” Arthur.  PBS Kids, 1994. Sing along on PBS Kids 


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