Rough AT Reentry, New PCT Start

What happened? I stopped writing for the most part. Somewhere in the White Mountains. I shifted, immersed, experienced, delighted. Self sabotaged.

On returning home from the Appalachian Trail in September 2022 I felt open, alive. I had made a well thought out plan for myself for gentle reentry. I have come back from enough yoga retreats to know how to integrate back into the world and hopefully bring my balance with me to share with others. Or so I thought.

Tramily and I sequestered at my place for a few days. We went to King Spa in the Palisades. Highly recommend. I saw friends, told stories of my journey, relished in company and the comforts of running water and electricity.

I got out of bed at 3am to sleep on the floor with my mat and sleeping quilt.

Cracked open, I felt the pain of the world and my own pain. It was overwhelming. I did my practices for setting and keeping boundaries, protecting myself.

In October I revisited a NJ section with my beloved section hiking friends, from Delaware Water Gap to Deckertown Turnpike. We camped at the Mohican Center one night and Brink Road shelter the next. I was flooded with memories, made new memories. We talked with people visiting for the day, section hikers, thru hikers, people finishing miles who had to skip and come back to finish a section. I hiked and talked shop for some miles with an EMT. He apologetically told me how fit and fast I am. When I was younger it was “for a girl.” Now it is “for an old lady.” I don’t mind. Expanding people’s perceptions gently in any way I can while being open to expanding my own.

We ran into a man from Brazil hiking for peace. He told me his name but I can’t remember. I longed to continue hiking with him, hiking for peace. I thought I might rip apart with grief as I watched him continue down the trail on his journey.

We planned to visit Jake from the Secret Shelter, then found out Jake from the Secret Shelter had gone missing. I knew he was depressed when I met him over the summer. Someone had explained to me that he recently lost his wife, but that his wife was ornery and they had to be kept apart. He was all alone but for the steady stream of hikers who dried up as the weather turned. When I met him over the summer I told him I was sorry for the loss of his wife. His distant, cloudy eyes cleared for a moment and he looked right at me. He then expertly nipped me on my nipple and inner thigh. I don’t know what to think about that. Donkey language. I read people’s posts that his hooves were too long, that he needed a trim. I was glad others had noticed. Maybe he would get some help, I thought. I had learned that his “owner” wasn’t well and had trouble keeping up with taking care of him. Perhaps someone kind had taken him for a better life with the company of other donkeys. Or maybe he had gone somewhere thick and wooded to lie down and pass peacefully.

I threw myself back into helping others. A tried and true strategy for mitigating grief.

One of the things I promised myself is that I would try travel Physical Therapy when I came back. I found the perfect position that was far enough to be considered travel and also not too far away. The position was with a home care agency I have worked with before. The elements of familiarity made the leap more palatable. There is a network of housing rentals for travel medical professionals. I found a lovely family with a peaceful room. I had a positive experience and was invited to come back. By the home care agency and my host family. It feels good to have options.

My travel PT assignment is over and the new adventure awaits.

My tramily and I have been planning a Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. We start soon. It is a record year for snow and subsequent melting snow. I’ve been reading, watching, and listening. The Trek and Backpacker Radio have been great sources of information.

I’ll be chronicling my PCT journey here.

The accompanying photo is of a pond in New Jersey on the AT. Coordinates 41.15490º N, 74.83015º W.

There is what appears to be a crumbling sculpture of a crouching, headless figure, sphinx like. The foliage seems landscaped. Does anyone know the history? I’ve been researching. Haven’t found anything yet.

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Comments 2

  • Chris : Apr 8th

    Hi Wendy,

    Thanks for being so honest in your writing regarding struggle and “mitigating grief.” You likely already know how empowering this feels to read to someone else who is struggling to come to terms with hard things in their life. What a gift!

    • Wendy Boller : Apr 17th

      Thanks for sharing your experience, glad to learn my offering is helpful.


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