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August 27, 2016

“Let’s go to Guido’s at Rt. 7. We could get apples, lots of apples, to bring out.”

At Rt 7, we stuck out our thumbs to hitch. Dozens of cars went by with no ride. “On this road, they probably don’t know about the trail.”

We walked a bit, thumbs out. No ride. “Too discouraging. Let’s see if we can get water at that Garden store over there, then get back out on the trail.” That worked! Cindy welcomed us into the workshop and offered fresh water from the water cooler.

Back outside, we tried hitching again, this time right at the ‘Appalachian Trail’ sign. A handful of cars went by. Just about to turn to the trail, I heard a beep, then looked around to see a car pull over to the right side, then turn around. The driver was turning around to pick us up!

He lived across the road and often took hikers to Great Barrington. Yes, he would take us to Guido’s, no problem. “How are you getting back?” he asked. We had planned to hitch a ride. “That might be hard” he said. “I’ll wait for and bring you back. I can go to town later.”

“Anything you want?” I asked. “Oh no, but maybe prime rib or lobster would be good!” he joked.

We shopped lickety split. Apples. Coffee. The sushi caught my eye, so a got a tray of it. Bread. Bread would be good. John found a nice loaf of banana bread. Done.

One more thing. “Please add $5 to this gift card.”

When our trail angel, whose name I never learned, dropped us off at the trailhead, I handed him the card. “This will get you started with that lobster.”

“You didn’t have to do that! ” he said, seeming surprised. “Well, you didn’t have to drive us to Guido’s either, so we’re even! Thanks for your generosity!”

That sushi was amazing!

Trailhead Sushi!

Food Change

August 26, 2016

We found out that we like to eat our hearty meal of quinoa and chicken- or cheese! – after walking for a bit in the morning, instead of at night.

After walking all day and reaching camp at dusk or even after dark, something “light” like our cornmush seems just right!

“Emotionally Broken”

August 22, 2016

That’s what the hiker we met this morning said. Her story is that she walked from Springer to Katahdin, reaching the summit in Maine on August 4th.

18 days later, she’s already reached 725 miles in a southbound return to Springer!

“How are you doing,” I asked. Her reply, “I’m physically doing great. I’m emotionally broken. I don’t have time to talk with anyone and I hike all day and night.”

Holding Back

August 15, 2016

I am not sharing my story. I am waiting. Letting someone else call the shots. Being a loyal partner while settling for unfulfillment, taking what comes, avoiding  creating. Making assumptions that deep connection is not possible.

Avoiding taking a close look and going deeper myself.

Interesting that on this section, I now have ample time to write, to post, to connect, and I decided going into it that I wouldn’t. I would focus on making miles, letting the blogging fall away. Ironically, I have now been in this hostel for 24 hours. And I don’t want to share!

My walk seems unremarkable. I am Holding back.

I am making comments on others’ posts, writing emails to my family. Not publishing blogs. Lurking, not sharing.

Telling myself, “What I’m doing is not interesting to others, doesn’t matter, pales in comparison to the olympics, the campaign, the thruhikes.” I don’t 100% believe that, but still have a resistance to sharing anything with my list. I think, “They just want to be entertained while I do the walking, the writing, the considering, keeping up with the blogging even when it’s inconvenient, not responding, acknowledging, engaging. They want me to keep giving at my own expense.” Then, I chide myself for being selfish, arrogant, stingy, small-minded.

Right now, though, other stories are more: olympics, campaign, teralyn, Sue, Jim McClurkin. The church people are more generous than I.

Can I love myself being reluctant? Love myself being in conversation with just my family, not others? Love myself turning inward, questioning, allowing, settling?

Is it enough to be focusing my energy on my body, my rest, my inwardness? Just accomplishing the walk for myself and not on stage?

Funny, I want to ask a few people in my community- Vera, Anna, Scott, Renee. I know that sharing, even sharing this stream of consciousness banter, would be welcome, and yet I’m guarding myself, reluctant to be so generous with my story. I don’t want to be pitied and advised and soothed. Maybe I just want to be invisible right now, and love that.

So be it. I will allow, and follow, and comply.

Chapter’s End

July 6, 2016
Delaware Water Gap! It’s 9:30 a.m. and here we are at the Pennsylvania-New Jersey state line!

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It’s halfway across the bridge across the Delaware River – on I-80! The trucks rumble by, inches away from us  beside the concrete barrier, the bridge shaking. Only on the AT! Oh my!

Our three-hour walk this morning included the last of the Pennsylvania Rocks, a lily-pad pond, and a tunnel of rhododendron flowers! What a fitting flourish for the end of this section of our walk!

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430 trail miles, three complete states (WV, MD, PA), 36 days.

Now, for a month of family visits and preparation for our next section from Delaware Water Gap to Killington, VT and completion of a second traverse of the Appalachian Trail!

Thanks for reading my blog!!!
Stay tuned for the next chapter starting in August.

In joy,
Regina

Completion

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July 5, 2016
This is our last night on the trail for this section walk. Tomorrow, we’ll walk an easy 6 miles to Delaware Water Gap, rent a car, and drive back to Virginia.

The rocks are waning, Pennsylvania is falling behind us.
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Today’s walk gave us a chance to exercise one of our “trail mastery” skills: moving on from an undesirable social situation. Let me explain.

We arrived early at our day’s goal, just nine miles from our starting point, at a shelter with easy access to water. A couple of hikers were already there. They pointed us to the water. We noticed a picnic table on the trail to the water source, in a shady clearing behind the shelter. Nice! We could set out our stuff there! I suggested that we share the fire the other hikers were tending at the shelter and took our pot over there. No problem.

During the next ten minutes, we received a barrage of social behaviors that encouraged us to move on for the night! That’s my choice when I encounter folks whose behavior seems unfriendly, aggressive, self-righteous, or simply unpleasant.

These folks exercised their “freedom” to do what they wanted on the trail, including burning their plastic hotdog wrapper, chopping saplings for an all-day fire with a machete, playing loud music at the shelter, setting up their tent inside the shelter, and bragging about their free stay at the church hostel in the next town since church people “wouldn’t take a hiker’s last food money.”

Although I made brief attempts at “authority of the resource” conversation about each topic, my statemebts were met with vociferous argument and judgement:
“Everyone else burns their trash! I’m not going to pack mine out either!”

“I have blisters from hacking wood all day! We took a zero day to dry out our wet gear, and want to keep the bugs away!”

“Do you suppose anyone will mind if we set up our tent inside the shelter?”

Enough. Sometimes creating community at a shelter can wait for another day, another group. I feel sad, and wonder if I’ve let the bullies win, but proud of myself for offering the chance for discussion.

Perhaps I provided some food for thought without confrontation. Mostly, I felt sure that I can choose to move on from an undesirable situation, no explanation needed. That’s a useful trail skill, I believe.

Calzone Day

July 6, 2016
There are only two people in the world who celebrate Calzone Day! That’s me and my hiking partner, John. The first Calzone Day was July 6, 2007, when John bought a calzone in Monson, Maine, couldn’t eat the whole thing, and shared it with me!

We didn’t know at the time that we would become hiking partners, but now celebrate the day we met!

Today marks nine years since the first Calzone Day!

A New Idea

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July 2, 2016
“Pennsylvania has rocks!!” says my baby grandson. His mom sends me photos that keep me laughing! 16 days ’til our next visit!

Dry

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July 2, 2016
Have I told you that I LOOOOVE my tarp shelter?!  It kept us dry in the thunderstorm last night. Chalk up another success for the Rayway tarp system!

This 1.5 lb drape of fabric has sheltered us in all kinds of weather in all four seasons.

Check here for more tarp successes. http://forgivenesswalks.com/reginas-tarps

Whohoo for the tarp! And Love Your Gear!

In joy,
Regina

Stay or Go?

July 1, 2016
We easily walked from last night’s camp to Eckville Shelter, arriving at about 2 p.m. The trail today was scenic with views from Pulpit Rock and The Pinnacle, winding from Blue Mountain to Eckville Rd on a smooth, old dirt road. Not so many rocks at all!

Eckville Shelter is a remodeled garage behind a big farmhouse next to the road to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, where hawks gather in great numbers during spring and fall migration.

The shelter features a caretaker who lives in the house, a solar shower (cold today!), a charging strip for electronics, and six bunks.

We enjoyed our semi-private visit, with just one other hiker, until others started walking in around 3:30 or so. We started to consider our options.

There really wasn’t much  advantage in staying for the night. Six bunks would mean that many of the dozen hikers would be camping in the grassy lot across the street. There was no laundry, minimal cell signal, no wifi connection, no access to extra food, which meant we would be depleting our trail food without making progress to our next resupply.  In addition, the growing number of hikers meant no privacy either.

This time, the choice to cook our dinner on the huge picnic table complete with conrete slab stove pads, allowing a full three hours of phone charging time before walking out for a couple more hours of walking, was easy!

Our three hours provided rest, a cold shower, dinner, and some good conversations with other hikers. The guest caretaker surprised us with his delight that he could meet the renowned Mssnglnk of Pacific Crest Trail fame.

That was my trail name in 2008 when I walked the PCT, the same year a hiker named Jester walked as well, making a movie of his trek in a group called The Wizards. John and I walked at a pace that loosely coincided with the Wizards. I showed up in the movie a couple of times, and we shared a PCT finish photo with Jester and some of the Wizards. The caretaker is a good friend of Jester’s and loves his movie, The Wizards of the PCT. He’s been trying to meet all of the hikers in the movie, and marveled at his good fortune to meet one right here at Eckville Shelter. “You’re my hero, MssngLnk. You’re one of the great ones.”

Flattery was fun for a few moments, but we still packed up and hiked back out to the trail a little after 5:00, climbing back up the ridge toward the night’s camp further north on the trail, Eckville Shelter behind us.

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Pulpit Rock

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The Pinnacle

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Rhododendron Flower just opening!

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Box Turtle on the trail!

In joy,
Regina