Stepping stones: A Shamanic Journey

We each walk our own path. Friends, family, events, trials (and trails), failures and victories are our stepping stones.

I first heard of the Appalachian Trail my senior year of high school in 1985 and have been plotting on how to make it happen ever since.

As most of you have probably heard and experienced, life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans. Within a year of graduating high school, I enlisted in the Army and became engaged to the mother of my first child. Neither of which worked out. After basic training and AIT, I had an accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which causes memory loss, dizziness, severe headaches and a host of other issues that could make the trail very interesting.

That first marriage ended shortly after it started and I didn’t get to see my son very much through the next 18 years, but I did manage to reconnect with him by contacting him through MySpace (remember that?) on his 18th birthday. We have grown very close since then and he is even beginning the trail with me and hiking until he has to leave to pick up his girls for the Summer. Yes, that’s how old I am, two grand-daughters. I will celebrate my 50th trip around the sun while on the trail. I wish he could hike the entire trail with me as he has a lot of healing to do from his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the death of his wife just a few months ago, but that is his story to tell.

While I didn’t get to raise my son, I did get to raise my daughter that was born ten years after him via my second ex-wife. When my daughter’s mother found out she was pregnant, she handed me a hippie midwifery manual and informed me that I was going to deliver the baby at home. About 9 months later, there I was, kneeling next to the bathtub, waiting to catch, tie and cut. Thank the hippie gods we had no complications whatsoever. A few months later, her mom decided it was her turn to join the military and left me to raise this beautiful baby girl, all on my own. After she had been in for about a year, the marriage ended and the custody battle began. Luckily, in the end, I was fortunate enough to raise her for the next 18 years of her life. She is currently attending her first year of college and I now of the opportunity to hit the trail that I’ve been dreaming of for the past 30+ years.

I know everyone has their own reasons for hiking the trail, even if they claim it’s just because they have nothing better to do. I am certain that most are going through a time of transition, such as I, and many are in need of healing of some sort. My first reason was just for the adventure of it, but over the 30 years that have passed since learning of the trail, life has been, well, life. I will turn 50 on the trail, assuming I live that long, haha. So, I suppose it’s mid-life crisis time. It’s a time of transition, reflection and healing. As many of you youngsters on the trail, I am trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, what I want to be when I “grow up”. Just kidding, I never intend to grow up. Three failed marriages, being on my own for the first time in over 18 years, losing my home in a wildfire 4 years ago; the list goes on.

My first intention is to connect to Spirit in a new and profound way. I have been trained in the Peruvian Shamanic tradition and hope to find my place in this world as a healer and sage. I believe this journey will provide me with everything I need to take the next step in life. So don’t be too frightened if you see me dancing naked around a fire in the moonlight, haha. Feel free to join me or just shake your head at the crazy old man and continue on your own path. Looking forward to meeting many wonderful people out there. Hope to see you soon!


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