Yoga Sisters: We Move Therefore We Are
I talk too much in the morning. Savoring bland instant coffee drunk out of a rubber cup folded out like a child’s paper fan, I chatter. Mist drifts from my cup’s sugarless contents, brown water, warm and bitter. And I pour over every crook and cranny in my hidden arsenal of thoughts as my sister sips from her cup quietly staring and accepting my incessant monologue.
In the early morning, rising up foggy hillsides half asleep, I gaze at the heels of her sneakers as she nimbly climbs, damp earth under her feet. Somewhere up the hillside one of us starts singing a song we grew up listening to, probably something by the Beatles…”Here comes the sun,” and one of us does the “do do do dos.” We sing for ten minutes or more and then, devolve to chatter and finally, to random chirps, squeaks, blurps, a collective onomatopoeia that would rival the cicadas and tree frogs had they awakened to spring yet. In a few weeks, these treetops will be shaking like maracas passing secret insect messages back and forth.
I don’t remember the first time we talked about hiking the Appalachian Trail together. My sister is an adventurer by nature, while I had spent a life immersed in the adventures found in pages of books, working at a public library in Upstate SC.
I think it was Lucy and Susan Letcher who really brought us here. And Bill Bryson, Jon Krakauer, David James Duncan, and Cheryl Strayed. Before them, Jack London and Thoreau. My siblings and I passing books back and forth. My sister and I became enamored of the trail, the woods, the challenge told in outdoor stories.
Fear of the Woods
She was the one who dragged us out of dreaming into real life backpacking trips where she slept soundly while I stared at the nylon ceiling of the tent listening to every twig snapping under feet, probably deer hooves, all night long, hoping a tree didn’t fall on us, hoping a bear or stranger wasn’t lurking nearby.
I don’t know what I was afraid to find in the woods. I do. I know. I was afraid to find out I was a coward and fearful, weak next to my athletic, brave, and stubborn sister.
We bestowed trail names on ourselves.
I didn’t want to be dubbed “deer in the headlights” or “shorty;” I needed a name that was more “fake it ‘til you make it,” a name which inspired me to embody the bravest parts of myself. So, I chose “Alvirda Myrtle,” in honor of both of my grandmothers, one sassy and bold and a marvelous dancer even in her 90s, and one a professional softball player during the 40s, the original chutzpah. In the woods, I went by “Myrt” for short.
My sister is Walkie Talkie, because the reason she grunts and stares while I chatter in the morning is that she has a continual stream of thoughts occupying her mind. When I’m not talking at her, Walkie is talking to herself, as she rolls up her sleeping bag, as she picks her way over rocks and roots on the trail, as she stirs our rehydrated dinners in camp.
Somewhere wandering up and down mountain sides, navigating switchbacks, crossing streams, reaching false summits and then, continuing on, I found that I always reached the next summit, worry or not, so I left 60 lbs. of worry somewhere near Hawk Mountain Shelter, Georgia, and decided I didn’t have to carry it anymore.
In the woods, I found that I trusted my feet and my brain, and I trusted the ancient mountain range. I trusted my sister, and I trusted us together as a team.
During our first section of the trail, fellow hikers who became our companions, dubbed us the “Yoga Sisters,” our collective trail name. Walkie led yoga each morning and evening in camp with hikers inevitably straggling up to join in.
My sister needs quiet time in the morning, and I need chatter. She needs space, and I need to crawl up her arse, sometimes stepping on the backs of her shoes when I’ve hovered too closely behind her while hiking. She loves the vistas, and I love the earth under my feet. She loves evenings gathered with strangers in camp, I love quiet mornings on a mossy felled tree trunk with my stale coffee and notebook.
Together, we love the challenge, the singing in the woods, the ghost stories, and falling asleep next to each other, laughing and talking.
I don’t know why we hike. We hike because we dreamed about it for so long. We hike because we love the act of hiking, moving, breathing, feeling the breeze rush by our ears, feeling sweat drip between our shoulder blades.
In the woods, we find out who we are and who we can be.
“I think therefore I am?”
Nah, I do therefore I am. I hike therefore I am.
Thank you, Trail!
Myrt & Walkie,
The Yoga Sisters
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Walkie here! Thanks Barefoot Sisters for inspiring us! I don’t think this adventure would have ever really happened without their book(s). Now, I hike out of determination to finish a big goal. And this is a big one! Other hikers that are traveling with a sibling, were you inspired by the same thing to start?