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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

Port Clinton

June 30, 2016
A popular hiker hangout in Port Clinton, PA is Frank’s Barber Shop. The barbers are a father-son team who’ve been running the shop for decades – $8 a cut. They had a steady stream of customers for the 2 hours we stayed while sorting our maildrop and charging phone batteries.

“Would you like to cut my hair?” I asked the younger Frank. He looked at me, “No, not really.” I think he just cuts men’s hair. And they just really enjoy having the hikers visit.  They offer everyone coffee and cookies – vanilla amd chocolate  sandwich cremes – and find out our trailnames and where we’re from.

Another local guy, their friend, offers shuttles to nearby Hamburg where the services are.

We got a ride to Hamburg for shopping at Wal-Mart and Cabella’s (because Wal-Mart was out of fuel canisters!) from a guy named “The Regular” who is updating a 1960 Ford Falcon – red. “I have to drive it around to test it, so I may as well be driving someone, otherwise I’d just be by myself.” I gave him some gas money.

At Wal-Mart, I got impatient waiting for John to get out of the bathrrom, so I ducked into the Vision Center. After Kelli had adjusted my glasses, I said, “You can tell everyone that Regina walked 340 miles to have you adjust her glasses!”

Lori, also at the Vision Center, helped by letting me plug my phone and charger into an outlet near a cupboard where the phone was out of sight. We got to talking about the AT, and she said, “That’s something I’d like to do!” You know me, I got pretty excited about that and invited her to contact me.

And then Cricket, at the entrance, noticed our packs and asked us aquestions about the trail too. It’s fun being celebrities just walking the trail and coming in to resupply!

This time, we decided to “get outta Dodge” and return to the trail without spending the night in Hampton or Port Clinton. Our choices were Microtel, the Port Clinton Hotel, or the town pavilion, a huge picnic shelter open to hikers.

Whewee, sometimes it’s a challenge to leave town! There’s a feeling that there’s something there I need, except I don’t know what. Since we’ll be completing our first section of this year’s walk in just one week, I didn’t really need a night in town. Still, there’s a pull. But, this time we ignored that and walked out of town.

Ahh. As soon as I stepped on the trail and started  walking again, I felt at home!  “I have what I need to be here!”

Well, I did forget to buy garlic, which I love chopping up into my hummus and quinoa. I’ll have to get it next time! And, if I change my mind, there are four towns in the next 70 miles!

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Leaving Port Clinton along the Schuykill River.

In joy,
Regina

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