Katahdin Anniversary

June 27, 2016
Today is my nine-year anniversay of my first summit of Mt Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, in Maine!

What a day that was! I was astounded at the arduous terrain of the mountain, surprised at the boulder climbing and the 10-hour trek to get up – and down!

Now I know that Mt Katahdin is in the top five most difficult parts of the trail, too! But, I’m so glad I did my thruhike  that way because I got the hard stuff out of the  way first!

I’ve gone back to climb it again – eight other times! If you haven’t watched my video of Mt Katahdin, watch it here!

Katahdin Sojourn

In joy,
Regina

501 Shelter

June 28, 2016
“We haven’t stayed at a trail shelter yet on this walk, but this would be a good one,” I said to John, as we heard the approaching thunder. We had been waiting at the fancy-dancy 501 Shelter at the junction of the AT and PA 501 for the last few hours, heeding the thunderstorm watch.

So far, we have bypassed all the shelters since our walk began on June 3rd. Here are my reasons:
   *I’m not a social sleeper!
   *They can be dirty and mouse-ridden!
   *People leave things in them.
   *They remind me of work as a ridgerunner when I cleaned them out.
   *I love sleeping in my own tarp space out in the quiet woods.

There are over 300 shelters on the Appalachian Trail. Each one is unique. Many are simple three-sided wood sided lean-to type structures with a smooth plank floor. Some are stone. A few are elaborate, multi-level buildings, with covered picnic table, loft, and bunk platforms. They have room for 6-8 people layed out in their bags. When there’s a storm, they accommodate any number of hikers! More than I once, I have squeezed in with about twenty others in a trail shelter to wait for a storm to pass.

Shelters are good landmarks. Their location is marked in my guidebook, so when I get to a shelter, I know exactly where I am.

Shelters usually are near a reliable water source. Not always, but usually, so they are good stops for water, lunch, and meeting other hikers.

Shelters are a location for trail registers, notebooks provided by the local trail club, for hikers to make note of their passing through. This year, hikers seem to be writing simple one-line messages, “Trailslug passin’ through” whereas when I hiked in 2007, people would write long passages, notes to upcoming hikers, stories. Perhaps smartphones and blogs are filling the communication gap.

The 501 Shelter is big and fully enclosed, more like a hostel. It has 12 wide bunks and two picnic tables inside. A six-foot wide octagonal skylight lets in a flood of daylight. A solar shower, porta-potty, and adjacent tenting provide luxury. What really sets this shelter apart are a caretaker living in the house next to it, and pizza delivery service from Do’s Pizza in Pine Furnace.

We stayed the night, amazed at how quiet 17 people could be. No one spoke after 8 p.m. and the only lights were red headlamps of late readers. Hikers love their sleep!

The storm was mild, or at least that’s how it seemed from inside the 501 Shelter. We had made a good choice, and can now say we stayed in a shelter on this walk!

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The Octagonal Skylight

Nine Year Avocado

June 28, 2016
“We brought those avocados,” Holly says, as she drives to the Red Lion for a reunion lunch in Pine Grove, PA. “It only took nine years to deliver!” We all laugh.
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In 2007, when John and I were doing our thruhike of the Appalachian Trail, my friend, Diane, from Atlanta, had said, “When you get to Bethel, PA, call my step mom, Holly. She wants to meet you!”

I called her from Port Clinton, two days north of PA 501, the road to Bethel. Well, the next morning, a few miles out from Port Clinton, we found out that the next few water sources were dry, leaving us an 18-mile waterless stretch. We weren’t prepared for that!

“What if we call Holly to meet us TODAY, and ask her to bring water?” I wondered. I called her.
“I’m at school, and usually I don’t take calls while I’m working, but my principal is standing here saying, ‘Take the call! It’s from the AT!!’ so I answered,” she said.

Five hours later, she and Diane’s dad, Chris, plus their three year old son, were there at Rt 183, arms loaded with bottles of water – and huge salads! “We couldn’t find the avocados you requested, but maybe these salads will work.” Sure did! We visited for a while, then said goodbye to our new friends and generous Trail Angels.

We only walked another hundred yards or so before camping for the night. Those salads were too big to pack out. And oh so perfect, even without avocados!

Nine years later, we’re approaching Rt 501 again. I contact Diane again for Holly’s number. Yes. They’d like to meet us. We arranged for a pickup at the Rt 501 trailhead. And they brought avocados!

Over broasted chicken, mini pizzas, and a cheeseburger, Holly, Chris, and two grandkids reminisced, filled in stories from the interim nine years, and renewed friendship. With warm hearts and gratitude, we resumed our walk north, happy to have met local friends on our way.

These are a couple of golden avocados too!

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Jumping for Joy at the Red Lion

In joy,
Regina

Rocks Reprise

June 28, 2016
I said I’d keep you posted about the rocks. Yes. There are rocks here in Pennsylvania on the Appalachian Trail. Ok. Enough said?

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the rocks, both when they are here and when they are not. Rocks on the trail is one of those topics and experiences that can stir many perspectives. Here’s a starting list:

   *Complain about them
   *Muscle through and ignore them
   *Be mindful of them and go inside with what arises
   *Trip and fall on them and get off the trail
   *Study the geology of rocks
   *Notice the artistic qualities of rocks
   *Dance!

What else? How else can I regard the rocks? I figure, THEY’RE not going anywhere, so I may as well accept them and be entertained in some fashion.

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I am really looking forward to the opening of HeartSinging Walk Community where we can discuss deep, shallow, and hard topics like Rocks on the Trail. I hope you’ll be there!!!

In joy,
Regina

Mary Says

June 28, 2016

“A mutual friend demanded that I get to know Regina when I was attempting to train my uncooperative body to go on a hiking trip in Scotland with my son.  My friend could see that Regina had the skills to assist me on preparing my body for the trail. She could also see that Regina had the knowledge and ability to assist me with uncovering whatever I had in my past that would emotionally, mentally, and spiritually block me from making the breakthroughs needed to complete this memorable trip.  Indeed, Regina’s and my relationship became one of looking for the source of joy in the Inner Journey that is found when sometimes looking for something else.  Regina’s unique, calm, unassuming presence and comments would knock my socks off. She was always supportive, always loving, always encouraging, and always looking for what she could provide for me.”

Trail Magic

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June 25, 2016
Most hikers mean “Food” when they talk about Trail Magic, the term for happy surprises on the trail.

My favorite Trail Magic is trail maintenance, and extraordinary care like the Duncannon  Appalachian Trail Club folks – and day hikers who happened to be hiking up to Hawk Rock – who were removing graffiti from the rocks. They had teamed up to carry 70 gallons of water one mile up with a 750 ft elevation gain. It was impressive! Volunteers, families, random day hikers, the handful of organizers gathered a crew and spent half the day coating  the paint with a gelatinous acid product, waiting for an hour, then scrubbing with wire brushes.

Food? Give me THIS kind of Trail Magic any day!

In joy,
Regina

Back to the Mountains

June 24, 2016
(Reading in email? Click “read in browser to see pictures!)
Noon. After a night in the Super8 Motel, we walked back to the trail, 1/4 mile away to the pedestrian overpass on US Rt 11, a 1,185-mile long highway from Canada to New Orleans. The AT crosses it down in Daleville, VA as well.

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2 p.m. we took a break at Scott Farm Work Center, where John and I reminisced about our Ridgerunner Training held here in 2010. The path headed north was lined with daylilies!

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3 p.m. the tunnel under PA 944, a good example of a successful partnership project for constructing the AT. PA 944 is a major commuter route, so the engineers did meticulous planning to shut down the road for only a minimal number of hours to build the tunnel.

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4:45 p.m. Our last view of the Cumberland Valley and back at South Mountain from Kittatinny Ridge.

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Surprise! Another couple of miles through the next valley!

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With a natural bouquet of flowers!

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5:00 p.m. Back in the majestic forest and the mountain.

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8 p.m. home sweet home under the tarp before the dark and the thunder roll in.

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8:30 Before tucking in, we took a short walk to the near by “View”. Look! It’s the mighty Susquehanna River, our destination for tomorrow. Our first glimpse!

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A day of scenic walking on the AT in Pennsylvania!

In joy,
Regina

I’m counting down the days to my birthday and start of HeartSinging Walk Community! If you’ve enjoyed reading my trail blog and want to join in the conversation with me and others who walk in Nature for healing, growth, and personal transformation, you may like HeartSingingWalk Community. Read more here:
HeartSingingWalk Community

Mildred Norman Ryder

June 22, 2016
A big question arose from my visit to the Appalachian Trail Museum in Pine Grove Furnace. Where is Mildred Norman Ryder, the first woman to walk the entire  Appalachian Trail? Yep. Another woman did it before the famous Grandma Gatewood.

When I first learned of Mildred, it was while reading Peace Pilgrim, a biography of the woman who walked across the U.S. numerous times advocating for peace.

I was stunned to read that she had her vision of what to do with her life while walking the Appalachian Trail! “What?!” I thought. “She walked the trail in 1952?! Why, Grandma Gatewood’s famed thruhike was in 1956?!”

I had asked Laurie Potteiger, public relations manager at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, why there’s no mention of Mildred Ryder as the first woman to hike the whole trail. Do you know what she said? “Well, at  the time she completed her walk, it wasn’t acceptable to be with a man and not be married to him, so she was not recognized.”

Well, dang! Seems that it might be time to recognize Mildred! In MY view, her walk expressed what I believe walks could be, if we really pay attention.  What she got from her walk was her life’s mission. She had walked to simplify, to go to Nature for her inspiration.

Usually, hikers take on a “Trail Name” as they become something on the trail different than in the “real world.” Well, Mildred left behind who she had been AFTER her walk, becoming Peace Pilgrim. Her walk bridged her past to her future.

Maybe I like Mildred’s story because she reminds me of my own story. My thruhike gave me a glimpse of who I could be, of how a relationship could be. Out there on the trail, in Nature, I saw something for myself that I couldn’t see at home. After my walk, I redesigned my life – and came back for more!

The Appalachian Trail Museum is a fine expression of ONE view of the AT. In my heart, I see a different view that I invite you to consider. The trail is a blank canvas on which we can express our unique walks, receiving, giving, learning, becoming who we can be!

What do you think YOUR walk could be? Please respond by email and let me know!
regina@forgivenesswalks.com

In joy,
Regina

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Summer azaleas in PA!

PA Rocks

  • June 22, 2016
    So, we’re walking in Pennsylvania, on the Appalachian Trail, right? 230 miles of woods, ridges, rivers….and popularly known for its rocks.

And you know me, right? If I’m supposed to be experiencing rocks, rocks, and more rocks, I will notice the preponderance of smooth, soil padded rocks, right? Right!
Here you go!
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And this..
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And yes, there are some awesome, beautiful rock formations here in Pennsylvania, like this:
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And this:
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OK. So there are rocks in some places and not in others. If I walk carefully, stepping on the soil and not on the rocks, the dance of the trail unfolds one moment at a time.

I understand that the rocks in northern PA really ARE treacherous and ubiquitous! I’ll keep you posted!

In joy,
Regina

Nineteen

June 21, 2016

It’s a landmark day! It’s our 19th day on the trail, halfway through our days in this section. And, we passed our half way mark in mileage too! That happened at mile 1077.5 from Springer Mtn, GA, 215.5 miles for us from Rockfish Gap where we started on June 3.

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A fledgling blue jay, flapping his way to freedom, reminds us to keep going as well! Half way!

In addition, it’s June 21, first day of summer (AND today is popular as Hike Naked Day).

Not only did this day feature all these noteworthy qualities, we also passed the half way point on this year’s Appalachian Trail. I say “this year” because the trail changes length just about every year as trail updating is done. Most rerouting makes the trail gentler in slope, thus longer in length.  This year’s half way point is at mile 1094.5

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2016 AT Midpoint. And this is as naked as we’re gonna get! Staying cool in the heat!

We made a quick note of our 2007 midpoint, which for us would have been mile 1089, half of the 2178-mile length. On this year’s trail, our 2007 location is at mile 1100.2!  Pretty fascinating to play with this idea of the fluctuating trail.

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Midpoint in 2007

In joy,
Regina