A Walk in the Park – Yes Really!


Life interrupted and so I took a few days off from training. Today, I decided to dial back my “reentry” into training by taking a 6 mile walk fully geared, in a nature park. Parks in our area are technically closed to traffic on Tuesdays making hiking a quieter and more intimate experience.


A nor’easter, aka fierce winter storm, blew through the mid Atlantic area toppling mature trees and mangling forests. There was lots of storm damage in this park. Entire trees lay uprooted with roots splayed, fan shaped, out of the soil. Today’s  walk gave me a chance to appreciate the dynamic and ever changing scenery. Winter is slowly giving way to spring and the cracked and tangled forest is ceding dominance to blooming yellow forsythia, the occasional daffodil and carpets of purple flowers. Pale tan leaves continue to cling to the beech trees. Furry serpentine poison ivy vines encircle mature trunks reaching for the sky. The remnant of a trunk decays where it stands as infestation reduces it to sculptural grotesque-ness.

In contrast to the natural havoc, unnatural chainsawed limbs lie strewn everywhere. Surgical cuts making the paths passable once again. Through it all, I hike rhythmically, keeping time with alternating poles tapping the surface. I am lost in thought, reveling in the lack of human noise and hearing only birds and leaves moved by scampering squirrels.

stillwelldaffodil stillwellfuzzyivy stillwelleatentree


I look forward to hiking the AT knowing I will have similar hours of solitude and quiet. I pray that fewer will be punctuated by soreness, pain, concern about making it to a shelter, weather, food drops, and Lyme disease. After all, the idea behind training is to condition oneself. One hopes with luck, determination, perseverance and attentiveness to where one is placing one’s feet, the miles on the trail will be tough but without trek ending mishaps. For today though, I bask in knowing that this moment is perfect. The overcast weather is ideal for hiking. The temperature is 50 degrees and amazing. I don’t have a care in the world.


stillwellserpentroots                                            stillwellblades

For those who meditate, the only focus one needs to meditate is breath; rhythmic and constant. Falling into a pace, I quasi meditated.  Occasionally, I came to the realization that my feet had carried me but I was not particularly “present”. For example, I managed to cross four wooden  bridges but only recall three. Then I realized, the tree roots that persistently intersect the path, were making their presence known underfoot. At other times, the delicate moss bordering my steps was mesmerizing. The colors were at times faded into muted greens and orange hues while bright green elsewhere. I was aware of the lichen growing insidiously in a specific clump of trees while absent on trees inches away. And yet, the miles melted past as my feet carried me along.


stillwellcaptdave             patapscopondreflections

I found myself down a path that skirts along the water’s edge ending at various locations: Park Boat rental docks, dog water park, gazebos overlooking the river, and footpath offshoots to cove after cove. Beyond the gazebo I waved and yelled out a ritualistic hello to “my friend” Captain Dave, the oysterman, ever present harvesting and tending his beds.


You probably don’t recall, but my daughter, Alexa, and I will be starting our SOBO hike together in June after she graduates from college. She, bless her heart is vegan and food prep is damn serious business. It’s actually kinda hilarious because having once been macrobiotic, I think of food somewhat differently than most people. I totally respect not  eating anything that comes from something with a face on it! Nevertheless, I still can’t get used to OREOs, Twizzlers, and unfrosted poptarts being “vegan” and forget “healthy”! Anyway, designing a food list of calorie dense choices, that don’t take up massive amount of SPACE and are vegan is a freakin’ challenge! Bless Alexa for having completed 99% of the list and breakdown by mail drop box.

So, anyway, that’s what I am finalizing after posting this blog – a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. to procrastinate.

Yay, gear is set! We finalized our gear purchases during her Spring break and we will post it along with a post on trail food choices.

In the mean time, safe and happy adventures to NOBOs already on the trail: Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers, and enjoy the gifts of Spring!

If you want to read more about fun travel adventures and look at amazing pictures visit my:

Travel blog: http://www.justskedaddle.wordpress.com/

or Website: http://www.KateStillwellPhotography.com

or Instagram: #Just_Skedaddle






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