Mount Greylock Magic

Written on July 26, 2019

I continue to fluctuate emotionally.  I’ve been doing small miles this week.  Staying below ten miles most days.  Today I’ve only walked 3.9 miles.  I summited Mount Greylock this morning and just loved it so much that I really wanted to stay, so I got a spot in the bunkroom and I’m going to enjoy the sunset and the sunrise, and then keep moving.  

I was feeling mostly fine, but then this morning Burt sent me a picture of Lola lying beside a pile of my clothes at home and I just totally broke down.  I was ready to throw it in and call it.  I was thinking to myself, “What the hell am I doing? I don’t have to be out here walking through the woods and feeling sad all the time.”  

I took my time leaving camp where I had strung up my hammock over a tent platform and I was living in luxury with my own personal deck up off the dirt.  Then as I walked I remembered how depressed I had been all winter, and with tears streaming, I sighed and reminded myself that I have to feel all of this.  It’s my past traumas.  It’s the traumas of my ancestry.  It’s the trauma of Appalachia.  My ability and space to feel and process is allowing all this to move through me.  It is painful but I am strong.    

I have to become OK with the fact that I can’t force my body to the point of breaking.  I let my body get stronger slowly, I let it repair itself regularly, and as a result I’m a much slower hiker.  It’s difficult now in particular because the bubble of northbounders I’m surrounded by are laser-focused on the finish line.  They aren’t as friendly, they don’t seem interested in connecting, they talk only of self-imposed deadlines and finish dates and crushing big miles, and it’s not helpful for me to engage in that type of attitude.  When that’s where the conversation goes, I find myself drifting away from the group to get back to being alone again.  

The sunset from my bed.

The sunrise from my bed.

At this point, over 500 miles into this ridiculously long journey (like seriously, I’m not even half of halfway done) I’m staring to feel like I’m destined to be a solo hiker.  Maybe I’ll never find a hiking buddy or a tramily that feels better than being alone, and I really need to get OK with that and embrace it.  

Things aren’t all bad. I just go up and down emotionally a lot.  This lifestyle is really brutal for a sensitive feelings-feeler of the highest caliber.  I know that I am strong.  I know that I have what it takes to push through all kinds of hardships.  It’s a delicate balance of looking at the bigger picture, and taking things day-by-day.  Right now, looking at the bigger picture, I’m overwhelmed realizing it has taken me two months just to do one-fourth of the trail.  At the same time, when looking at just today, just this moment, I realize it is gorgeous up here on this mountain, and even though I only walked four miles to get here today, I want to stay and soak it in.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about mountains.  There’s this specific feeling at the top of a mountain that is cleared off and you can see for miles.  If you’re lucky enough to catch the top of a mountain during peaceful weather, there is still a good breeze going almost constantly.  In the summer there are wildflowers and tall weeds dancing together with each new gust of clear air.  

A beautiful sight to be seen on the way up the mountain.

I realized that I’ve needed a break, and I thought that days inside on a couch with unlimited food was the answer, but it hasn’t been the answer at all.  I’ve needed to be in gentle, healing nature.  Today I am  getting just that. I got clean, I got full, and I just sat in the sun looking at the view, relishing in the breeze, taking note of the pine trees, the wildflowers, the layers of mountains in the distance, and cloud shadows casting shade on the earth below.  

It’s not surviving in the elements here.  It’s me in perfect communion with nature.  And though I’m getting up close and personal with nature on a daily basis, it’s not always a restorative type of healing experience; it’s more of a toughening me up, teaching me lessons, digging up old wounds type of healing.  Mount Greylock, though?  Here I feel peace.  

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