Updates Renewed

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!

 

In joy,

Regina

My Message

Here’s what I said to a woman struggling to lighten her pack. 

“And now, if you’re game for an even deeper exploration, it has helped me immensely to delve into clarifying my purpose for walking. I realized that the trail is a blank canvas on which I paint my own journey, design my own fulfillment. Sure, a popular way to engage with the AT is to backpack long distances. That’s not the only way it can be visited, and, conversely, hiking might not necessarily be the best way to fulfill your dream. It might open up a whole new journey to explore what you’re thinking that hiking the Shenandoah section will provide… ultimately, in my own hiking, I want to create something that makes my heart sing!”

Maps for the Appalachian Trail near Springer Mtn., GA

I received a text message from a friend: “My sister and I want to begin a hike at Springer Mountain in mid-July. Do you have maps we can borrow or recommend the best maps?”

My maps are in storage in Virginia while I work out in California! Besides, once you step on the Appalachian Trail, you’ll fall in love with it and want your own set of maps for fanning the flame of your new passion and recording your memories!  Here are my recommendations

MAPS

Maps are helpful for spatial orientation, road crossings, and for locating nearby towns and highway routes. They can also show topography, shelters, and points of interest along the way.  I also enjoy perusing a good map for bedtime reading! Here are suggestions for maps for the southern section of the Appalachian Trail:

The National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps are excellent with detail and scope. A new series since I walked the AT has come out: the Appalachian Trail series (#1501-1513). 13 maps cover the entire trail.  Before this series, it took two maps to cover the trail in Georgia.  If you’re planning to walk trails in Georgia in addition to the AT, including the Benton MacKaye Trail, Brasstown Bald, and Bartram Trail, among others, you might prefer #777 and #778.

#1501 covers the southern 200 miles of the Trail.
http://www.natgeomaps.com/appalachian-trail-springer-mountain-to-davenport-gap-georgia-north-carolina-tennessee

#777 covers Springer Mountain part way through Georgia.
http://www.natgeomaps.com/springer-and-cohutta-mountains-chattahoochee-national-forest

#778 covers the north Georgia section
http://www.natgeomaps.com/brasstown-bald-chattooga-river-chattahoochee-and-sumter-national-forests

GUIDEBOOKS

Guidebooks are good companions for maps because they round out the information on the maps  with data points specific to the trail, distances between landmarks, shelters, and water sources. In addition, current guides also include details about trail towns, post offices, shuttle providers, gear vendors, and even trail profile guides.  Currently, there are two popular guides available. Both are updated annually and have dedicated followers who swear to the accuracy and helpfulness of the guide they chose.

The AT Guide  (“The AWOL Guide”)
http://www.theatguide.com/

Thruhikers Companion and other planning guides from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
http://atctrailstore.org/official-a-t-guide-sets-1/

 

MOBILE PHONE APP

If you prefer a digital guide to the Trail, the Guthook Guide has become quite popular since its first release in 2012.  The app and the demo guide to the Approach Trail are free. In-app purchase of 9 sections gives hikers everything they need to navigate the entire 2,189.2 miles of the Appalachian Trail and 273 miles of Vermont’s Long Trail. Each section costs $8.95, with a bundle price for all the sections.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.highsierraattitude.atcomplete&hl=en

Purpose

I encourage my heartsingers to know their purpose for walking the Appalachian Trail, or any journey! Here’s a good example of a stated purpose that a woman posted in a women’s hiking group. To me, it seems alive with feeling, possibility, and anticipated transformation.

“I live in GA and hike on the AT every chance I get…thru to the Smokies. Even tho Its training…I cant wait to start at Springer an rock out each and every milestone of the trail and my life. Crying, Smiling Laughing…emptying the baggage thats held me back for so long!! I NEED EVERY STEP of 2189 miles to tear me down and rebuild me, from the soles of my feet to the soul of my heart!!”
I would feel incomplete if I didnt go from start to finish… 

Happy Trails!!”

💜

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?

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

Ride 

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!

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

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!

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