Maine Ideas: Eat, Play, Pull

AUGUST 29. Two days after our town stop in Stratton, Maine, John and I  both felt energetic and happy. I said,  “What about today’s crisis?! We don’t seem to have a crisis!” John agreed. He said, “Well, if we do, we know what to do, “Pull our toes, eat some food, and play Satori!”

I began this journey, a walk on the Appalachian Trail from Mt. Katahdin, Maine, to Mt. Greylock, Massechussets, with the idea of pilgrimage – walking for inner change. That purpose is clearly unfolding as I walk with John, the man I met on my 2007 “thruhike” from Maine to Georgia.

On that journey, we had met in Monson, Maine, at mile 100. For the next several hundred miles we leap-frogged as trail friends. Often, we would camp at the same shelters, I would get up early, he would catch up, we’d walk together for a while, then he’d pick up his pace and get ahead. It always amazed me that I would see him again and each time I did, I enjoyed his company.

At this point in our current journey, we are camped at Piazza Rock, a massive boulder cantilevered 30 feet above the ground.  John noted some statistics:
*We have now walked 100 miles south of the famed Hundred Mile Wilderness, the first hundred miles south of Baxter State Park.
*Piazza Rock is 100 miles north of Pinkham Notch, a milestone in the White Mountains.
*It’s also half way between Mt. Katahdin and Hanover, New Hampshire, the gateway to Vermont.

On our solo journeys, we were secretly attracted to each other, both yearning for someone to share our passion for walking in Nature. We were both unavailable, however, because I was married and he was focused on reaching his goal. Separating, easily accomplished on trail with a simple change in pace, was a safe relationship strategy. That happened many times between Monson and Mt. Greylock.

Today, by contrast, we choose to stay together, and that’s where the inner change begins! What do two people who want to flee when relating gets tough do when the emotional terrain gets rough?

That’s where my “Energy Shifting” toolbox comes out – at least when I’m willing to pay attention to those emotional upsets and USE the tools!

This week we managed to “Use the Tools!” three mornings in a row. We’re starting to notice when we’re upset with each other or with a situation and bravely say, “I’ve got a Story”, or “I’ve got some feelings coming up.” Resisting the urge to plan out how we’ll get off the trail at the next town, divide up the gear and get outta there, we let the other one take the lead in playing a game that gives us a new perspective right away – Satori. That game helps us start with our Old Victim Story and end with a spiritually inspiring New Story and renewed ease being together. We realize that we are “healing angels” for each other and worthy partners.

It also helps in these situations to make sure we’ve had enough food and water.

The third tool that comes in handy is a Reflexology manipulation I learned from my big sister, Claudia. Releasing the big toe promotes energy flow all the way up the spine  to the neck.

We’re just about ready to leave Rangeley, Maine after a short visit to the IGA. When our Old Stories come up as we continue walking together, we’ll undoubtedly get more practice with emotional crises. Hopefully, we can turn our troubles into nlessings with Eat, Play, Pull!


Partners on the Trail!

Maine Ideas: Fine Without My Brain

My PACK brain, that is! In my constant effort to lighten my pack and still have what I need I took out a few items in Monson, Maine. It’s been a week without them and all is well! I sent away my pack brain, knitted scarf, extra pack liner bag and didn’t miss them.
At Caratunk, I took one more step and ordered a lighter sleeping bag. What’s more, I wore my short sleeved shirt instead of my long, hot shirt. I could even wear the short one at night, so maybe don’t need a second shirt! I sent the extra shirt away from Stratton, Maine.
Lightening my pack gets done one piece of gear at a time! Trying a few days without things. Taking chances. Trusting.


Gear I sent away is on the left. John’s jettisoned gear on the right.

Maine Ideas: Revisiting a Heartspot

August 20. I smiled when I saw John on the other side of the West Branch of the Piscataquis River on the Appalachian Trail in Maine. He easily waded through the 18″ deep water and crossed the thirty foot width of the calm river to meet me on the south side. I paused my search for aquatic animals clinging to the undersides of rocks in the shallow river bank to greet him.
“Hi, Regina! What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m a stream monitor back at home in Atlanta, and I’m curious what lives in the water here!”
“That sounds fun! What are you finding?”
My smile spread to my heart at his question. This hiker whom I had met a couple of days before in Monson, Maine, was interested in sharing the fine points of Nature exploration. We stayed a little longer turning over rocks, oohing and aahhing at stonefly and mayfly larvae, put our hiking shoes back on, then walked south together on the trail.

That’s a memory of my first visit to this spot on the A.T. in July, 2007.

Today’s visit, eight years later, lights me up with joy, calling to mind the relationship journey we have traveled since that first time “Hiker John” caught up with me on what I had planned as my solo hike of the trail.

After that meeting, we had continued on our coinciding solo journies, meeting by chance at shelters, trailheads, and rest stops for the next 300 miles.

Today, my heart swells to restage that prophetic crossing and greet my hiking partner with the grateful realization that the doubts I’ve had about marrying him may have indeed been quelled by his generous willingness to be with me as I really am and my willingness to explore my doubts with compassion, honesty, and Radical Forgiveness. This journey on the Appalachian Trail is meant to bridge the gaps in the sections we walked together on our 2007 thruhikes and gain clarity about embarking on a future together. Crossing the Piscataquis is a bright spot in that picture!

Maine Ideas: Town Stop

AUGUST 18 and 19. Although it’s wonderful out on the trail, even when it’s difficult, I need to go into a town every few days to get more food, take a shower, revise gear, and take care of internet tasks! It’s easy to consider that the trail and the town are two different worlds, separate and incompatible. The more I adopt a Hiking Lifestyle, however, the more the two worlds blend, becoming dependent on each other and equally important in sustaining me wholly. Here’s a taste of how a town stop works.

About 6:30 p.m. John and I reached the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Maine S. R. 15. We had already decided that we would go ahead into town rather than spend another night camping out near the trailhead. Even though our food bags were almost empty (We had a couple of servings each of hummus and mashed potatoes), the attraction of having a quiet, restful night on the trail inspired us to poke into the side trails near the road, looking for a tent site. Road noise, however, had already penetrated the forest, canceling out the allure of staying out. We emerged from the forest and encountered the road!

In Monson, a popular hiker destination is Shaw’s Hiker Hostel. John called there to request a pickup at the trailhead, with “Poet” responding, “We’ll be right there!”

By 7 p.m. we were at the hostel, getting a tour and choosing a room. It was an easy choice between a double bed in the hallway loft and a double bed in the Mini-Bunk room where no other guests were staying. Poet welcomed us and we carried our packs up to the room. Now, our town stop could begin in earnest!

For me, focus is the key between having a restful and productive stop and a frazzled, incomplete one. It’s easy to get caught up in the social hubub of the hostel, meeting everyone, watching T.V., getting online, etc., but then the important chores can get skipped. We focused and stuck with the priorities we had discussed on the last mile before town.

1. Plug in the phone and battery charger
2.Choose clothes from the “loaner rack” to wear while ours are in the wash
3.Take a shower (prewash socks in the shower!!!)
4.Unpack and stack gear neatly on a shelf
5.Start laundry
6.Do gear revision tasks (this time it was to remove the door flap from the tarp to reduce its weight by a few ounces)
7.Deep clean the cookpot and spoons
8.Start communication tasks – Facebook, organizing notes, etc.
9.Take a walk down the one street in town to the one open gas station for sandwiches and ice cream.
10. Get to sleep around 11p.m.

11. Wake up at 5:30 and outline the day’s tasks, creating an intention for rest and ease
12. Join in the breakfast at 7:00 – it’s a big one!! Eggs, homefries, pancakes
13. Spend one more hour resting on the soft bed before 9 a.m. room checkout
14.Choose and organize the gear we are willing to send home (lightens the packs by 2 pounds!)
15.Shop at Pete’s Place for additional food to bring our food weight to 15 pounds for our 5-day section (She has fresh local apples and peaches, old fashioned oats, pouches of chicken!)
16.Go back to the hostel and shop at Poet’s Gear shop for a few more food items
17.Complete the packing and weigh our packs (4 pounds less than last section, whoohoo!)
18.Visit the local library to write this post

Now, it’s going on 3:30 p.m. and we feel ready to go back out to the trail. We’ll make an easy beginning to our next section by walking only 3 miles to a campsite near the East Pisquataquis River, giving ourselves another restful night. One more stop at the hostel for a last shower and settling our bill with Poet and Hippy Chick, hostel proprietors will make us completely ready!

Town stop done and satisfying! Back to the forest and walking in Nature!



Maine Ideas: Focus on Rocks

AUGUST 16. Climbing the mountains on the Appalachian Trail in Maine invites me to stay present to each moment. If I pay attention, I notice that each rock is unique, in color, shape, pattern, texture. Each step is a “pedestrian decision” as described in Don’t Die in the Mountains. I reflect on how walking this path is a dance of agility and focus. I don’t believe that treadmill walking would be good offtrail training for Appalachian Trail walking. Perhaps court sports like basketball or tennis could work. My favorite, of course would be trail walking!

The mountain paths in this part of Maine are rocky, rooty, muddy, and steep, winding through lush and expansive forests alive with bird songs, squirrel chatter, and wind rush. Thick blankets of moss wrap the rocks in green. Pine, spruce, and hemlock needles pad the trail for long stretches and freshen the air. Deep, black, organic soil mixes with water steeped brown from leaf tannins to make sensuous mud pudding to fastidiously avoid or playfully plop into. A rainbow of color from flowers, fruits, leaves, bark, even the rocks, treats my vision to a feast. Alive with wonder and gratitude, I embrace my inner athlete and walk on!



Maine Ideas: Stick in the Mud

From Regina’s journal while walking the Appalachian Trail

A section of the trail was very muddy yesterday.  Here’s what happened. For an hour or so, I successfully rock-hop, keeping my feet dry. Then, Slip! My left toes sink into three inches of water. Now, I’m partially resigned to having wet feet and surrendering to the mud. Slip! My  right toes  dunk into the brown soup. My shoes are both coated with mud. I can give in. It’s easier, after all, to simply walk through the mud, rather than hop gingerly from stick to stick and rock to rock.

I hesitate though, because my socks are still not completely soaked! I continue to find enough rocks and sticks that others put in the mud to keep me from sloshing up to my ankles. It suddenly occurs to me that I could add a stick too! I step off the trail into the lush moss and trees and pull a broken branch from the leafy forest floor. I drop it onto the muddy trail. One more stick for the next hiker.

“Wow! What if everyone coming through here dropped sticks as we walk?” I had already seen over forty hikers in the 10 miles I had walked. “The muddy section could be easier.”

As I thought about this in my morning reverie today, I recalled my Dad saying, “Don’t be a stick-in-the-mud!” I always thought that meant don’t drag my feet and resist. But now I see that sticks in the mud can be small acts of kindness for others that literally keep their feet out of the mud!

Maybe I’ll encourage the hikers I meet today to put sticks in the mud on this hiking trail and reflect on how I can BE a stick in the mud for others along Life’s path.

Maine Ideas: Welcoming

wpid-20150808_155708.jpgFrom my journal August 8, 2015.

It was so much fun entering Baxter State Park as a familiar visitor! John worked here last year and I visited for most of three months, so we know the staff here! Views of “the mountain” welcome us like a wise old friend. The peaks and  the silhouette spark memories in my mind that ripple even in my body, calling me to another arduous climb to the rocky summit. What a thrill to feel at “home” in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin!

In 2014, I watched the mountain change over three months and made this slide show.

This time we’ll visit for just two days.

Maine Ideas: From Boxes to Pack

Packed and headed out to the AT later today. It may be a week before I can post again on the southern side of “the Hundred mile wilderness”- 100 miles without resupply. (Some hikers have Paul Renaud at AT Lodge drive in on logging roads, but we’ll go through it with our 20lbs of food to share.) I love reading your comments and questions and can answer when I get to Monson!


We started with THIS! Above


and ended with THIS: two packs.

Maine Ideas: Beginning

A new journey begins with …….
Not the usual view, I know. Before I could start adventuring anew on the Appalachian Trail, I had to sort my stuff! First, I left things in my Virginia storage unit. These are things from my past life as a homemaker that I must keep. Someday I will use them again or let them go.


Next, I borrowed totes from my sister and space from my mom in Ohio to store things I don’t need for hiking, but want for my NEXT journey in California.

Feelings of sadness, fear, and frustration arise. What if I NEED this? Like my computer? Feelings of gratitude that I have Mom and Simon, my son, to back me up with support.

I consider the New Stories I’ve picked in Satori games: Life’s so easy now. I’m off to the Beach! (Well, trail!) OR When I show up as ME everyone loves me.

I can do this! And go for a walk…….