Grocery Shopping

September 8, 2016

I’ve spent almost as much time shopping when I lived in Decatur, GA, than I did today starting from the trail! When I lived in Midway Woods, John Reiter and I would don our backpacks (we had no car then) and walk 45 minutes to the Dekalb Farmers Market, shop for a while, sit outside and eat a snack, then walk home. That would take 3-4 hours, and we enjoyed it!

Today, Hiker John and I reached Rt 125 at about 10:30, not knowing who would be givi g us a ride to Middlebury, VT, 10 miles away. John noticed a bus schedule posted at the trailhead. He called the bus company to confirm that the bus made a stop at this spot later in the afternoon.

While he was calling, I thumbed. The second car pulled over, then parked in the lot. Immediately, the passenger jumped out and started rearranging things to flip up the back seat. Yes, they were going into Middlebury, knew where the co-op was (the dayhiker we had met earlier said, “Go to the co-op!”), and were going there themselves!

It was as if we had all known they would be meeting us! We talked like old friends – about her growing up on Long Island, how they enjoy vacationing nearby, how we love the CA desert. “You’re selling it well! We might have to go there!”

I forgot I had to get out when Ireet (isn’t that a beautiful name?!!) pulled up to the co-op. “Oh right, this was just a hitch with strangers”, I reminded myself.

The co-op worked great for our resupply. We did our tried and true Three Passes Shopping method. First, walk through the store getting ideas. Second, buy something to eat immediately and take it outside. Three, make a list, then go back in and carefully choose our purchases. This method gives us a better chance of walking out satisfied and with light packs!

Oh, we had fun! What was great was the pancakes the rep from Gormly’s Farms was cooking up for sampling, Kombucha on tap, and…..maple syrup – real Vermont maple syrup sold by the ounce!

We really appreciated buying olive oil, spaghetti, dates, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, and salt in the exact quantities we wanted. We filled our empty plastic almondbutter jar with maple syrup.(The cashier graciously recalculated the maple syrup price when the code reader picked up the almond butter price. Hazards of reusing containers.)  Seems heavy, but it’s been a staple for our delicious cornmush or oatmeal breakfasts!

Dried mangos and apricots, fresh local apples, garlic, EmergenC, and a block of Vermont cheddar filled our bags……but not too full or heavy!

1:30, we were packed up and ready to find Merchants Row to catch the 2:15 p.m. bus. 

While waiting for the bus, we sought the shade in front of on of the row of stores. “What would make you come on in?” a woman setting up a sandwich board was suddenly asking us. “People here just stand outside and look in the window, but won’t just come in! It’s just a store! You can look around!” 

Wondering what she meant, we noticed that this was called Curve Appeal, a boutique for sexual pleasures. Oh! So she thought people were shy!  “We would just need more time! We’re catching a bus soon, and don’t want ro miss it. So, I asked her, “What made you go inside?” That got her talking about herself and her degree in psychology and how this county was the incest capital of the country, and how the town tries really hard to have an image of prosperity, but all the poor people live downtown and she really wanted to help people feel comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality and not just pretend that everything is ok. Very touching really! 

But, the bus came, and we rode with Robin, the bus driver, who told us a lot about the local hotels and Middlebury College, and her bus route in our 45- minute ride back to the trailhead. There’s a popular ski slope here too, which is why there’s a bus stop here.

Then, we were there! 4 1/2 hours for a town visit was pretty good! I got a couple of phone batteries charged (well, now one is back down to 29% after writing this) and we have great food choices for another four days of walking!

I celebrate living on the trail. We just go grocery shopping like always!

Thanks for the ride, Robin!

3 hours later, our view from the shelter

Slabbing- with Bears

September 7, 2016

The local hiker we met a couple of hours after our 6:43 a.m. start on our first full day of this walk said, “This slabbing makes for quite a walk, doesn’t it?” I was unfamiliar with the term, but realized she was talking about how the trail was carved out of the side of the mountain. Sometimes the trail was very narrow and slanted sideways making it hard to keep from sliding down the steep mountainside! I had called this kind of trail “sidehill”, but “slabbing” is a good name for it too!

Today’s trail, at least ’til about 2 p.m. when we crossed VT 73, our first paved road, was mostly slabbing as we wound around a few mountains with gaps in between. The mountain forests here are dense spruce woods, thick with moss and shrubs in between massive paper birch trees. Huge boulders stick up from mats of thick, humus-rich soil. “Green” mountains is a perfect name for them.

Within our first hour of walking this morning, we started climbing up out of Telephone Gap (no idea why it’s called that!), hearing a bellowing noise that made me think  cows, or some kind of farm animals, were nearby.  But where? We were in a forest! A few minutes later, a treetop shook. A lot! “That’s not a squirrel,” John said. “That’s a bear! Two cubs!” 

Then, I saw them too, shimmying down a tree maybe 50 yards in front of us. “We’re too close. They’ve modified their behavior – and there could be a mom too.” Yep. A crash in the brush to our right was a good sign of that. We retreated on the trail a good fifty yards and waited. Silence. “The cubs are gone and there’s no other movement. Let’s go forward.” No further sign of the bears occurred, but we were happy to have seen them!

After crossing Rt 73, Nineteen miles from yesterday’s starting point, our route changed from slabbing to straight-up peak climbing. Within the next 5 miles before we reached the Sucker Brook Shelter, our rest stop for the night, we went up and down three mountains – Horrid Peak (what a name, eh?), Cape Lookoff Mtn., and Gillespie Peak. All were fairly steep  climbs of 100-400 feet, not too bad. 

It was a full day, though, a focused twelve hours of walking with short rests for water, meals, and snacks. I’m ready for a rest and grateful for this lush forest that stretches for miles and invites us to walk!!

Green mountains

We Started

September 6, 2016

8 miles completed on this section of the Long Trail! We got out on the trail about 2 p.m. A sense of home at the Inn at Long Trail pervaded the day. Was it the familiarity with that spot since we had stopped there last year, even though we didn’t stay. The hefty breakfast, included with our stay could have had something to do with the feeling. Perhaps the homelike arrangement of the furniture in the common living room or the laundry room tucked in a hallway next to the kitchen. The place seemed, well, livable, not like a hotel. I got a surprise service from the Innkeeper, Maury. Another hiker and I were waiting at the bus stop across the road from the Inn, with plenty of time to catch the 10:38 bus. We stood, chatting about our hikes, when zoom, the bus passed by! Right on time too! “Hey! It’s supposed to stop here and it didn’t!”

John, who had been waiting with me even though he wasn’t going along with me to the post office, volunteered to go back in and call the bus company. He found out that the bus had indeed passed us by and that someone with a truck would take us to the post office.

I found out that our driver was the Innkeeper. He even waited for me at the P.O. and while I picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer at the store next door. “Thanks for the ride! Now I have some extra tip money for the room attendants!” I said when he delivered me back to the Inn.

It’s notable that this is the first time in a while that I’ve walked on unfamiliar trail! My walks lately have been on the AT and Pacific Crest Trail, both familiar ones. 

The forest and general terrain are the same as we’ve walked for the past week here in VT. It was a pleasant walk this afternoon. We did see another hiker on the Long Trail – a southbound Appalachian Trail hiker who had been confounded by the white blazes marking both trails! He had walked a few miles north on the Long Trail before concluding that he had made a mistake!

Otherwise, as we settled into our campsite, a previously used undeveloped site 8 miles from the Inn (I know that because the new Guthook App told me so!), John said, “I guess since we’re still out here hiking even though we finished the AT, we must be living  on the trail!”
Maybe that’s why it feels like home!

White blazes like the AT!

Please comment or ask questions via email at regina@forgivenesswalks.com (The comment function isn’t working. If you know how to fix it, let me know!)

In joy,

Regina 

A New Journey!

September 5, 2016

The sign here we left the Appalachian Trail, finished and new complete, and a little sad, said “Please Stay on the Trail.”

In my mind I sang along with Arlo Guthrie, “That sign was made for you and me.” And we also knew that what we really wanted to do was heed that sign and stay on the trail.

But, not the Appalachian Trail. We finished that – twice! You may not know that for 100 miles in southern Vermont the Applachian Trail coincides with the Long Trail, 372 miles on a vertical axis through Vermont.

We bought the map and food for a few days. John has been researching resupply points, since we like to travel light and go into towns for food. We won’t have our trusty maildrops filled with our favorite homemade dehydrated trail foods. We’ll do our best shopping at grocery stores. I also just bought my first section of the Guthook’s Guides, a new favorite tool for smartphone hikers. (I’ll try to ignore that gastly name. Guthook, eeww!)

Stay tuned! This is a new trail for me, so you’ll get to see me in new territory. I’ll post as signal – and courage – allow!

Completion!

September 4, 2016, 1:00 p.m.

Tadah! John and I reached our goal of Killington Peak, Vermont, the point that marks where we have walked all of the Appalachian Trail at least twice!

When I set out to do a thruhike of the AT in 2007, my aim was to start in Maine and at least make it to Catawba, VA where I had left off walking the trail in sections with my then husband. I wanted to be able to say, “I’ve walked the whole trail” in one quick sentence.

I reached that milestone in November, 2007. That day, when I reached that nondescript road crossing, I burst into tears. “I’ve walked the Appalachian Trail!”

Then, I kept walking, 693 more miles to Springer Mountain, Georgia, completing a “thruhike”, walking the whole trail in one year.

My original plan was to finish the trail to “get it out of my system” and get on with my next career. I was 53. My husband thought I would do that too. He said something about that a week or so after I got home. To appease him, I dramatically stuffed my beloved thruhiking gear into a big box and stashed it in the attic. “There! My hiking persona is put aside!”

The next day, he excitedly invited me to meet him near his office in downtown Atlanta for lunch. We sat at Olympic Plaza, he expounding on the beauty of the place and the glories of being outdoors. I gaped, stunned by the noise, the garish scenery, the puny trees. “This is my fate as a former thruhiker! Nooo! I can’t do it!” 
And I didn’t.

I did keep hiking. I had realized that I did not get hiking out of my system, but that hiking IS my system.

There are eight years of walks between that day and today, many other trails, and even six summer seasons of paid employment on the AT. 

Today’s fulfillment signifies another milestone in claiming hiking as my system. I am brimming with gratitude for the privelege of getting to choose walking this amazing path, both its physical aspects and its spiritual ones.

There’s a lot more to say, and to reflect upon, which I’ll do in the upcoming months. For now, I’ll bed down for another night out, then open a new chapter.

Thanks for reading, affirming, and cheering me on. I’d love to hear of YOUR own life’s discoveries, milestones. What’s your “system” that you had thought you would outgrow yet found out is fundamental to your authentic expression?

Reply by email to

regina@forgivenesswalks.com

The comments function isn’t working right now, and I can’t fix it on the trail.

In joy,

Regina

Almost Silent

September 3,2016

It’s so quiet this morning in this Vermont forest! It’s 7:30 a.m. and I’ve heard just one bird – a bluejay making it’s squeaky one note squawk. And I can’t tell if the almost imperceptable constant chirping sound in the background is insects or tinnitus.

Occasionally, tiny tapping sounds indicate the falling of tree detritus on the tarp or branches further away.

And, there! Distant motor of some kind.

It sure is easy to sleep here, but why is it so quiet?

Sleep on it

September 2, 2016

We are 52 miles from completing our goal of walking the Appalachian Trail twice! Camped just 1/2 mile from Manchester Center, we’ve positioned  ourselves to get down to the road, hitch into town, pop into Food Chopper for  a bite to eat, shop at Eastern Mountain Sports, pick up our last food box at the Post Office, then hitch back out to the trail with enough time to walk 10 miles.

We have a choice to make, though! When we reach Sherburne Pass and celebrate our second traverse of the AT, we have to (get to?) choose what to do next?

Here are the choices we’re seeing right now:

1) Go to Ohio for my  cousin’s funeral. I found out this afternoon that my 76-year old cousin, who had been in hospice care for the past week, passed away last night. The funeral would be next week, and there would be time to finish the AT walk and get there.

2) Go on hiking. Our completion point is very close to Maine Junction, where the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail diverge. The AT turns east and continues its route to Maine. The LT continues north for another 178 miles to the Canadian border. Although we wouldn’t have time to do all 178 miles before my next family visiting date, we could walk for about 8 days.

3) Split up and go separate ways, me to Ohio and John to the trail.

4) Something else we haven’t considered. There’s ALWAYS another  choice! 

We’ll sleep on it tonight in our cozy site that’s partially hidden between a couple of boulders, and see what the morning  brings. In fact, we can wait until we complete our AT walk and choose then! 

Revisiting 

September 2, 2016

I’m happy to be walking the Appalachian Trail again because of all the beautiful scenery I forgot! Today was a good example of that. 

We started the day near the summit of Peru Peak in a chilly cloud, which made the spruce woods enticing and mysterious. I celebrated getting my warm jacket at just the right time, as this morning’s temperature dipped.

The path continued to not just one, but two lakes – Griffith Lake and Little Rock Pond – neither of which I remembered from 2007! We reached Griffith Lake at “late breakfast” time, cooking up our corn mush topped with maple syrup and cayene pepper.

We reached Little Rock Pond late in the afternoon. It was warm enough for dangling our feet off a rock, but not for swimming!  The sun shone and a dry breeze reminded me to air out the sleeping bag, though. I like to lay it out each day, with its black inside out to absorb the sun to get all nice and warm and fluffy!

Between those two lakes we crossed a wide stream jumbled with huge boulders and crossed with an arched suspension bridge. Yep! You guessed it! I had forgotten that too! Maybe this time I’ll remember sitting on its gravel beach eating hummus for lunch!

We’ve been skipping the shelters for camping, preferring to find tiny cleared spots along the trail to pitch the tarp. They’re more private, softer, and cleaner! 

The forests in VT are like cathedrals with towering trees and many huge, old trees! Fall colors are just beginning. Since being out in southern California where the bare rock foundation is dominant, I’m much more aware of the rock skeleton forming these ancient eastern mountains. The trail route is often laid directly on the tilted rock ridges and ledges. I enjoy looking closely at the rocks, marveling at the swirls and patterns formed as the molten minerals cooled so many eons ago! I am blessed to walk here, forming new memories, hopefully not forgotten!

Thanks for reading and for your comments and encouragement!  Apparently, the comment function of my blog isn’t working. For now, please reply by email (regina@forgivenesswalks.com) or Facebook Regina Reiter.

In joy,

Regina 

Perfectionist

September 1, 2016

OK. I admit it. I am a perfectionist, at least when it comes to talking about myself. I have been on the Appalachian Trail again since August 9 and I have been too shy to share. 

When John and I resumed our walk where we left off on July 6, I wasn’t sure how far I would walk, and that was hard for me to feel, even harder to admit to you!

Both my physical energy and my emotional energy  were low. I had had clear symptoms of Lyme Disease. In addition, I believed that all the posting and reaching out I had done on our first section was bothering John.  So, I wanted to be invisible and just walk for myself. I wanted to test out my Lyme treatment and sort through my relationship. 

Ta dah! I did! And, it all worked out! On July 25, after a week of fatigue, fever, headache, and then the classic bullseye rash, I started a two-week course of doxycycline and a month’s regimen of herbal supplements. Another week of rest while visiting my mom in OH precluded our return to the trail.

Four days into the walk, I actually felt great! My energy was good. All my symptoms were gone. 

My relationship challenges continued, though, and I kept writing stories (in my private journal) of doubt that I could truly express myself while in a relationship. Grateful to have the tools of Radical Forgiveness – The Thirteen Steps and Forgivenesswalks – Nonsenses Energy Balancing – I claimed my own story and let John off the hook for my own doubts. And I walked! 290 miles from Delaware Water Gap to Manchester Center, VT!

Now, we’ve just picked up the last of our five food maildrops, ready to set out for our last 52 miles. At Killington, VT, we will both have walked every one of the 2,189 miles of the Appalachian Trail – twice!

I’m ready to share about that, and want you cheering us on, asking questions, and reflecting on your own journey right along with me. 

So, I’ll do my best to post throughout the week, with our completion goal of Sunday, September 4, in sight. Please keep reading – and replying with your own stories. I want to feel your energy along my way!

Oh, and what really makes me want to share is that I now own one of those swanky cool down jackets that all the official hikers wear. I bought one on sale today at EMS in Manchester Center. Get a load of this! I mean really, after 11,000 miles of backpacking, I’ve got a lightweight, skinny down jacket.

Thanks for being here!

In joy,

Regina

4,000 Miler

September 1, 2016

This week, I’ll complete a second pass of the 2,189 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Georgia, and Central Virginia, thrice, 60 miles of my VA ridgerunning section, about 20 times.