July 28, 2017
Rain pelted down outside Thomas Knob Shelter, high on the ridge near Mt. Rogers, VA. Redhat, my companion for the week, and I sat happy and dry in the shelter at one o’clock in the afternoon!
That’s pretty early in the day to settle in camp, but the continuing rain, predicted to persist until 11 p.m., made the dry shelter quite attractive!
We stayed. Redhat had changed into her dry clothes. Long johns and a shirt, plus a “puffy jacket” comprised her carefully stashed dry wardrobe. She also had a pair of dry socks. Everything she had worn for our five-mile walk in the rain was wet. She hung it out on various nails and hooks around the shelter, reveling in our luxury of space being the only ones there.
“It’s all wet” she lamented. “This rain jacket did no good! I’m soaked through!”
I, by contrast, simply pulled off my wet socks. Everything else was dry or just damp. I hung up my damp shirt, and pulled on my one warm layer, a thermal shirt plus a fleece hat. Even in summer, covering my head with a warm hat is crucial for retaining body heat. Although I was disappointed in NOT having a second layer of insulation, like the lightweight wool sweater I often pack, I was warm enough. My choice to leave behind my extra socks proved to be a discomfort as well, but again, I was in no danger. My rain gear had worked!
Through the afternoon, ten other hikers arrived in pairs, peeling off wet shirts, jackets, shorts, and socks. None had stayed dry in the rain, I noticed. What had I done differently that provided me a basically dry rain walk?
Here’s what had worked for me that day. Now, I’m not smuggly saying that I would never have an issue with getting wet, just that my rain gear worked in today’s conditions!
The gear I had chosen for today’s rain were basically two items: a cheap umbrella and a silnylon rain skirt. The umbrella kept my top ventilated and mostly dry. The rain skirt covered my shorts and kept them dry. If the wind had picked up, the umbrella would have been useless, so I was lucky there.
I did have both a rain jacket and a poncho packed along, but was able to keep them in reserve for those possible windy conditions. Not wearing the rain jacket allowed my torso to dissipate the sweat that can get trapped by a rain jacket – even a breathable one. Since my rain jacket stayed dry, I had it available to provide warmth in lieu of that missing sweater.
I will consider bringing along those extra items next time. It’s a tough choice for summer hiking, when I can most easily pack light, but this experience nudges me to pack for extremes like this. I’ll check the forecast for my next 5-day walk and consider packing the extra socks, sweater, leggings, and maybe, just maybe, my 8oz “puffy jacket.”
This time I had rain gear success -with no margin for extremes!
August 2, 2017
I got up early this morning eager to meet Janet for a Satori game. It’s quiet, unbusy, and energetically unfettered at this time of day at the Konnarock Basecamp.
My blue puffy jacket keeps the slight chill away from my body. Ginger tea wakes up my belly. Ready.
“I need to pass on the game,” she greets me. “I just need to sit quietly. I hope that’s ok.”
“No.” I respond frankly, then move on quietly into the community kitchen. Inside I fume, “Of course I get stood up! Most people are afraid to get real! She’s just afraid to be with her own life. Afraid to move through her story! And just yesterday she told me how she feels lighter from playing last week. Dang!”
Uh. Hold on here, Regina. Could there be something here for me? Ten years into Radical Forgiveness could open space for me, perhaps. Yes. It does. Guess what? I have this chance to use the tools myself.
The words I’ve been learning and practicing with other courageous souls flood my mind.
Real. Real. I wanna be real. I play Karen Taylor Good’s song by that name.
Janet is my healing angel.
This is happening for me and not to me.
I can play Satori solo! Plenty of my own stories to shift.
And, as always, the cards and moves I picked were perfect! Pretty much reflecting what I said above.
Finishing off my game with Karen Taylor Good’s Perfect Work of Art.
“My block of stone is made of fear and doubt, but the real me is crying to come out.”
Thanks, Janet, for motivating me to get up early today and play Satori! It was perfect for me!
July 26, 2017
Raise your hand if you have stuff in a storage unit! Today, I get to celebrate that my rented storage space is empty!
I admit, I can’t claim complete victory over storage because my stuff has actually just been relocated to storage in my son’s new residence in Ohio, but this is a step. He is using some of the household items that were stored.
I enjoyed poring through one of the boxes that was filled with artwork and writings from my sons’ youth. I got to feel a range of emotions as I fingered each piece and stirred memories of their making.
And now my physical presence in Buena Vista, Virginia, is gone. I’ll always feel connected with this small town on the Appalachian Trail because it was my home for the six summers I worked here as AT ridgerunner. When I sold my house after my divorce in 2013, this was the place that made most sense to store the stuff I couldn’t part with.
Today, I close the door on the empty Unit #71 with gratitude that it safely contained my precious things for four years. Thanks to my son, Simon, for offering me space in his home!
July 25, 2017
Is “connection” something that comes to us or something we choose to acknowledge? When the woman walking with me this week said, “I know I’m connected to God, but I just don’t feel it! Maybe when I feel that connection, I’ll feel more confident out here.”
As I walked through the magnificent forest, then out into an open field, I pondered her quandary. “What if we are connected, no matter what, and at any moment we can say, ‘this is what being connected feels like at this moment?'” I wondered out loud. I invited her to walk for the next twenty minutes reflecting on the notion that being connected is constant and foundational. Simply noticing how that feels is the feeling of connection at that moment. I believe that we can choose to ignore, deny, or deepen that connection whenever we want.
Having said that, I realized that there are many specific connections I can feel while walking the trail. There’s connection to the Earth and the support of the ground. There’s connection to the air, with it’s wind, weather, heat and cold. There’s connection to plants, reflecting on the various qualities of growth that resonate with my emotional, spiritual, and physical growth and metabolism. There’s connection with other people, how our journeys cross, coincide, compare, contrast, or not. The list could be quite long, and a long walk allows for leisurely reflection on the idea of connection.
This quandary was one of many that Diana brought to me as we walked our 26 miles together. Here are a few others:
Pacing, I realized, while coaching her with my Meet the Mountains Technique to easily ascend each mountain, is not only a helpful skill and practice, it’s essential for a joyful walk of a long trail. Discovering our own body’s rhythm of breathing and stepping that supports us to walk up any slope tirelessly, I’m convinced is the foremost skill to master before considering walking any appreciable distance on the Appalachian Trail.
Unless one has an acceptance and ease with climbing, and descending, mountains, a walk of the AT would be grueling every day! By contrast, developing from within a physical rhythm, just like perfect timing in an engine, that we can sustain throughout the day regardless of the terrain, makes going up mountains, walking on level ground, or descending mountains a joy. If we’re not struggling for breath, burdened by a heavy pack, or straining our muscles every time the trail ascends, we can pay attention to our surroundings!
Gear. Diana also helped me appreciate the value of scrutinizing every single piece of gear, choosing the smallest, lightest, and fewest versions of items I carry with me! I know that I started where she was when she came with me this week, following the advice of an outfitter salesperson and investing the smallest amount of cash possible. I remember my first backpack trip when I thought I needed a roll of masking tape. I have no idea why. I just remember being glad that we had mistakenly taken a longer way to our first campsite, happily discovering that we were close enough to our car to dump a bunch of unnecessary items, including the tape, the next morning!
That’s why I was glad that I had planned her first night out to be a single one, with a night off the trail before we went out for another night. That gave her the chance to reevaluate choices, leave a few things behind and find smaller bottles for toiletries. She helped me remember that it took me many short trips to pare down, try different things, replace heavy things with lighter ones, and sew some of my own gear to settle on the reliable and repeatable pack of gear that I now carry, fifteen years and 10,000+ miles later. I still don’t know that I would have invested early on in the best quality, lightest weight gear that I carry now! It makes a big difference in my enjoyment, though!
Thanks, Diana, for walking with me to remind me of what it’s like to be a new hiker. I was there once, too! Keep walking, and learning, and adjusting! Stay aware of connections – and come back again soon!
July 19, 2017
I haven’t shared a post with you in a while – since the end of my Appalachian Trail walk last year! Indeed, my journey of fulfillment walking in service has definitely continued. I just haven’t shared about it!
I’ll jump right ahead to what’s happening now! I have resumed my job as an Appalachian Trail ridgerunner. As I say to hikers when I meet them on the trail, “Hi, I’m Regina and I’m the Ridgerunner. My job is to talk with hikers – encouraging stewardship of the trail and answering questions about the trail.”
This season, I am covering the Mt. Rogers, VA section of the trail. It’s a very scenic area with broad, expansive balds, wild ponies, deep temperate forests, and a couple of wilderness areas. I like it! I have a unique arrangement for the job, too. Neither I nor my partner, John, wanted to do the job for the entire 20-week season, so we requested to take turns. The boss agreed, and John started out the season with ten weeks on the trail while I finished up my season at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern CA and then visited my two adorable grandsons in Atlanta, GA and Charleston, SC. Now, John is off in the western mountains, fulfilling his project of summiting all 50 state high points. He’s accomplished his goal of doing two of the last four remaining on his list – Mt. Hood in Oregon and Gannett Peak in Wyoming. Talk about a happy hiker! He’s it!
Meanwhile, I have been enjoying walking and working solo! The woods is beautiful and my body feels strong! This week, I’m welcoming an assistant who can help me by bringing a second car so we can set a shuttle and walk a continuous section of the portion of the trail that I patrol. Diana is a woman who has been putting off her first backpack trip for fear of hiking alone. Joining me sounds like a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Here are a few pictures of my area! I’ll send out an update every week and hopefully say something that inspires you to step toward your own fulfillment – whatever that is!
Day One, 63 Days of Gratitude
July 14, 2017
My birthday yesterday reminded me of my blessings, so many blessings for my 63 years on Earth that I can write one, at least one, every day for all my years so far!
My first is gratitude that I have lived long enough to raise my three children to have their own children! Those two boys are the best! They bring the best out in their parents, too! I am grateful to have the vitality to be here to watch them, to visit them, and to receive their greetings!
July 9, 2017
My bear bag got stuck! It’s only happened one other time I can remember, but this time it was with my fancy-dancy hang where I pull the bag out from the tree trunk! When I tried to lower the bag down from the branch, it wouldn’t move!!! Yikes! What to do? I ended up getting it down by repeatedly jerking the rope, pulling up slightly. Each time it would drop just a little until it came down close enough to reach. What I concluded was that the bag was too light to overcome the friction from the rope pulled through the caribiner. Since this was my last morning out, my bag was almost empty and weighed just a pound or two. Here’s a video of that special hang, which usually works great! Just keep it heavy enough to get down!
May 28, 2017
I am grateful to my coaches, mentors, and teachers for helping me create Forgivenesswalks!
Laura West Center for Joyful Business
Ilona Dolinska-Reiser Wealth Skills
Thea Sheldon www.theasheldon.com
Bill Baren www.billbaren.com
Landmark Forum http://www.landmarkworldwide.com/
Ellen Britt http://pinkcoattails.com/
Marnie Marcus http://marniemarcus.com/unplugged/marketing-consultant/
Julie Ann Turner http://consciousshift.me/
Brenda Cobb and Jane Holmes The Living Foods Institute
Debbie Unterman http://www.debbieunterman.com/
Christina Hills Website Creation Workshop
Mary Canane http://www.marycanane.com/
Jennifer Urezzio Soul Language
Maritza Parra https://maritzaparra.com/
David Perdew https://mynams.com/
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