Cumberland Valley

June 23, 2016
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No camping for 17 miles! It’s the traverse across Cumberland Valley, PA that includes the town of Boiling Springs. The trail skirts farms and crosses a dozen roads, including the PA Turnpike, US 11, and I-81. Most hikers hoof it across the 17-mile stretch of easy walking all in one day. We did that as well in 2007 when we walked south. This time, we’re doing the stretch over two days, with a hotel stop in the middle.

The corridor of the trail is owned by the Park Service as what is known as Appalachian Trail Lands. In the Cumberland Valley, signs tell us this, along with the information that these lands are being farmed to preserve the historical and pastoral quality of the area.

It is satisfying to walk on a path through cropfields of wheat, corn, and oats. In one field, a farmer  was  harvesting wheat as we walked by!

Clouds billowed all day, blackening then clearing, then building up in white again. The predicted storm held off!

Although I’m happy to rest my feet after our 15.5-mile walk, the scenery was delightful, diverse, and a welcome contrast to the rocky forest ridges. Enjoy the photos!

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From  forest to cornfield!

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Narrow path traverses fields.

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Historic Sycamore in Boiling Springs.

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Pastoral land, newly harvested.

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A meadow of Milkweed for Monarch butterflies breaks the crops.

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Clouds billow above the oats.

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Safe crossing over the highway where we get off the trail for a night in a hotel near Carlisle, PA.

In joy,
Regina

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Milemarker

June 15, 2016
Harpers Ferry, WV.

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My heart sings reaching the ATC headquarters with “Hiker John”, free to share the classic hiker photo.

I look back in the archives and find my solo photo,

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2007.

 

Back then, in October, 2007, I felt awesome having walked over half of the trail. But, I wasn’t ready to claim that I had found a hiking partner. My husband was still at home in Georgia. I believed that the world of the trail and the world of home were separate.  What a journey of inner exploration, radical forgiveness, and outward change it’s been during the time between these photos.

I now know and experience that there is one world, one of joyous prosperity that blends walking with working, partnership and fulfillment.

Today I celebrate and acknowledge the journey undertaken to unite those worlds.

My heart sings!

Trailboss

June 14, 2016
From a campsite north of Raven Rocks, VA to Econolodge in Bolivar, WV, including a short visit at Blackburn Trail Center.

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Crossing the Shenandoah River in the evening on SR 340.

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Mountain Laurel fading

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Red Toad

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Goodbye Virginia! Hello WV

This section of trail is called “The Rollercoaster” because of its quick up and down pattern. Both times I’ve walked this 13-mile stretch I have had strong judgements about that name!

The whole way, I’m grumbling these sentiments: “There’s no coasting whatsoever in the Roller Coaster! Roller coasters are one-way rides. This one has two directions! It would be more accurate to call it Stegasaurus Back Or Rust Saw! Rocks, rocks, rocks make it a diligent dance of danger. Definitely not a roller coaster!!!”

I’m glad we took the .37-mile side trip to the Blackburn Trail Center, a workcenter for the Potomas Appalachian Trail Club. My Atlanta friend, Chickenfeathers, reached it just two days ahead of us. He had sent me a message to be sure to stop in and talk with Trailboss. We obliged. Trailboss answered all our questions  about the Roller Coaster, ending my judgements.

The trail through northern Viriginia, he explained, is a result of quick thinking and bold action to secure the 1,000 ft wide corridor before roads and subdivisions swallowed up the forest in the 1980’s. The trail had been a roadwalk and the roads were getting bigger and wider then, including I-66. Thanks to the AT community, the trail has a remote feeling amidst the developed area.

There was no room for a gently winding trail, so up and down it goes! The name, Roller Coaster, came from a hiker, not the builders. Someone called it that and the name stuck.

A beautiful snack spot in the afternoon, at Buzzard Rocks,  fortified us for our afternoon walk into West Virginia and down the slope to the west side of the Shenandoah River and a comfy bed at Econolodge.

A beautiful 16-mile day!

In joy,
Regina

Little Things

June 11, 2016
I have a list of small mishaps that we’ve been able to deal with and keep going. HeartSinging walking reflects how gracefully I can dance with the little things.

**Broken watchband. My cheap fake leather watchband  snapped.  Irritating! The good thing was that I noticed that it had fallen off. I threw away the band and stuck the watchface in my waist pouch where I can still get at it easily. Keep moving!

**Melted food bowl. Drat! My favorite lidded Glad bowl where I rehydrate my food on the trail was NOT microwave safe for repeated uses! I like this solution! We made an extra stop at Food Lion on our way out of Front Royal and bought  small bowl of hummus. The container fits perfectly inside our cooking pot, and the hummus was a fine extra snack for the afternoon. We might even switch to PLANNING it this way, getting hummus to pack out and a new bowl! Keep moving!

**Minor shoe breakdown. John’s shoe lining, a little foam piece around his heel, was bunching up and rubbing a hotspot on his heel. It’s too soon to get new shoes! He used my tiny Swiss Army knife scissors and successfully cut out the irritating fabric. Keep moving!

**Hot shirt. The air temperature rose today, into the 90’s. Whew! My long-sleeved shirt was too hot! John let me wear his spare shirt, a woven fabric button shirt with short sleeves. Better! Keep moving!

**Crowded camp. And the irritation that is just barely a “small” one occurred this evening as we were wrapping up our walk for the day. We knew the terrain and vegetation in this section would make finding dispersed camping difficult (that’s when we find a flat spot in the woods where no one else has camped before). We aimed for a shelter for tonight, planning to tent nearby. Surprise! When we reached the shelter turnoff at 6:30 p.m. there were people and tents everywhere! A Boy Scout troop of probably 25 people had taken over every tent spot AND the shelter! Grrr! We filled our water containers at the spring – and KEPT MOVING! That was the way to solve this dilemma. Keep moving! About ten minutes north of the shelter, we found a flat, rockfree spot without much poison ivy. Not bad! Ahhh! We can stop moving for the night!

Little things come up often on a long walk. But, with patience and ingenuity, they can be resolved, and we can keep moving!

In joy,
Regina

Gollum Revealed

June 4, 2016
7 a.m. Fog. Ah! Sun breaks through and lights the tree trunks. A restful night opens to a birdsong morning.

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12 p.m. Walking feels good! The trail through Shenandoah Park is gentle, though consistently up amd down. We cross the Skyline Drive every 2 or so miles! I want to call a woman I know who wants to walk just six miles a day to say, “You could do that here, no problem. If you have a car support person to meet you at road crossings, you could do this!”

3 p.m. Well, it’s been great all day, and I see in the guidebook that water and camping limitations mean that we can stop in a couple of miles or in as many as four miles. That gives us a short, easy day or a dubious and maybe long one. THAT’S where the day’s challenge begins!

After fairly calmly discussing it while we walk another mile, John says, “OK. How about if YOU pick the campsite for tonight? Wherever you want.”

That’s when Gollum, the two-faced creature from Lord of the Rings shows up – in my mind!

“He’s so nice, Precious! He’s taking care of you, just like he said. He respects you and means what he says, that you don’t have to get tired out. This can be easy!”

The camera turns to the other Gollum, “Don’t listen to him!!! He’s tricksy, Precious! You know you have to keep going, You have to prove that you never get tired! You’ll be sorry if you stop here!!!

Bing! Crystal clarity rings! This situation has nothing to do with John. It has nothing to do with John’s stamina or comparing it to mine. It has everything to do with my own perception of myself and that inner argument, that’s just like Gollum’s two-sided one.

This time, I realize that I don’t have to blame John or hold  him responsible for creating a situation that works for me – or doesn’t work for as if often the game I play. He’s absolutely giving me the responsibility for choosing.

So, THIS time, I’m choosing to stop at 4 p.m. in a sure campsite. I’ll sit in the woods and write. Cook dinner. Listen to the afternoon thunder rumble.

Stay tuned!

I have a great spot for balancing my Nonsenses. Ah! the vibrant color!

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5:45 p.m. Thunderstorm! That rumbling blew into a downpour. Good thing that we were already set up with dinner cooked. Happy and dry, we can relax in the grand tarp and enjoy the rain.

A nice long sleep awaits!

In joy,
Regina

Completion(s)

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June 2, 2016
Today, there were two completions. One was completing our gear packing! All ready to go! That’s completing our journey from our winter season to this hiking season.
The second was completing ridgerunning. Technically, I did that last July, or maybe in January when I declared my intention to do something else. Today’s meeting with the new ridgerunner really FELT like I have moved on from that six-year phase. I am actually happy to be away from the ridgerunning issues! Creating programs, hiking, and visiting my grandson are more appealing!

I also met up with a new-old friend. I met her several years ago on my section of the AT. We just never managed to get together during any of my other seasons in the area.

Today, we did it! Michele opened my eyes – and ears – to the challenges of hearing loss, like she is e,experiencing. I sure take my hearing for granted! Listening to the sounds of Nature, and as my friend, Barbara related, not just hearing the birdsongs but deeply listening to them, has been a nourishing delight.

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I am going to bed tonight feeling ready for our walk. I’m satisfied with my email delivery setup. It looks like it will work!

In joy
Regina

Refreshed

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May 30, 2016
Today, I visited a favorite spot on the Appalachian Trail -Spy Rock, Virginia. It sports a 360 degree view atop a 40′ boulder scramble. I’ve had many a visit here in the past six summers when I worked in this section as a ridgerunner. This time I came as a day-hiker with no mission to educate anyone.

I couldn’t pass up the chance to remove a few firerings to preserve the untrammeled appearance of the place, but that was it.

Beauty, space, and freedom to move – that’s what the place evokes! Let the colors flow the same! All is well!

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In joy,
Regina

Ease

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May 16, 2016
Why does it matter to me so much that I feel balance and ease and beauty on the trail? I’m reading the blog of a woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Her feet hurt. It’s hot. She thinks she has to walk further every day. She lost her first toenail and believes that just goes with the territory. Snakes. Poison oak. Poodle Dog Bush.
Her  writing is alluring because I keep wondering how much worse it can get. Cold. Dirt. Fog. And all of it is baneful, and somehow necessary for pushing through.

Where is the beauty? Why not learn to breathe and meet the mountains? Walk a distance that feels good? Must it be a battle, an ordeal, a lonely, hellish march?

That’s not what I want my long walks to be, and yes, I have had tired feet and focused on making miles. I don’t see much point in walking 12 hours a day except to revel in Nature, however. For me, the athletic part is purely in service of drinking in one more view, another forest, another mountain.

Maybe this is all easy to say while sitting at home, and yet I’ve been where she’s suffering. I walked her hot stretch in the cool of the night marveling at yellow flowers lit by a brilliant full moon. I paced my steps and breathed to let the long climbs unfold like meditations, singing or reciting poetry. I want walking to be a fulfilling, enlivening way to move between heaven and earth, blending myself with the Oneness of everything.

That’s HeartSinging Walk. I believe it and strive for it.

Accept

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May 13, 2016

Today, I accept myself being afraid to share HeartSingng Walk because my emails might bother someone. I accept myself being frustrated by an admin’s rule to not allow coaches to recruit clients in her Facebook group.

I am open that there is an opportunity for me to learn and grow.

My Nonsenses Immersion has sharp borders today. Oh! I just got something from that! I had started with a used painting that had a defined shape. When I applied red, I just went right along with that boundary! Just I like do in the group! It then defined the rest of the painting.

If I would start over with a fresh, blank sheet, there would be  clear space for my expression! Perhaps that’s what I could do about this group! Take a leap, or a step, and start a new group!

I’m open to YOUR ideas and perspective. When you realize you’ve been limiting yourself with pre-exisitng boundaries, what has freed you?

Please comment here.
Or email me at regina@forgivenesswalks.com
Or chat on the phone! Chat with Regina

Or be open to guidance to a completely fresh approach that I don’t even know yet!

Growing Vision

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May 12, 2016

Nonsenses Immersion becomes my “safe place” as I procrastinate reaching out to my community. I am pondering how to make a transition from pert follower and insignificant participant in someone else’s Facebook group to popular, influential, authentically attractive leader of Regina’s HeartSinging Journeyers.