How to Start Your Appalachian Trail Walk

I’ve walked the Appalachian Trail twice, plus another 2,000 miles working as an Appalachian Trail Conservancy ridgerunner for seven seasons.. How did I start all this? By locating the nearest trailhead to my home and setting foot on the trail. That one hour greeting let me hear my call to the trail “If I just keep walking, I can get all the way to Maine!”

Next step: a half day walk with my husband, exchanging the car key in the middle as we walked in opposite directions. Over the next four years, we built up to a full month on the trail, two trips per year, from over night to three nights, a week, two weeks. There are landmark steps, I think:

  • Connect to the trail.
  • Stay out overnight.
  • Do a resupply and go out again.
  • Walk 100 miles.

I would focus on training on the trail, itself. What I discovered by talking with thousands of hikers is that those who have a connection with their Inner Journey more than the physical athletic accomplishment of the trail feel fulfilled by their walks. In addition, those having a true connection and an enjoyment of Nature seem happier and more fulfilled.

So much to talk about! Oh! One thing that makes a big difference is having a method for easily climbing mountains – a breathing technique. Contrary to a familiar saying, which I will not repeat here – “Virginia is not flat!”

Here’s the method I came up with:

forgivenesswalks.com/reginameetsmountains

Deepening Practices

June 9,

In everything I do, I strive for deepening my sensory and spiritual experience. I’m pretty sure you do too!

I’ve picked up on some techniques from John Muir Laws (his real name!) through his Laws Guide to Nature Journaling. Two years ago, I launched a program at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center to provide a platform to practice what I’m learning.

Notice and Wonder is now a frequent listing in the Park’s Interpretive Schedule. In it, I offer five simple techniques to

  • observe more closely,
  • remember what we see, and
  • stimulate questions for further consideration.

Visitors love the deepening experience! And, I get to enjoy a couple hours of pure delight doing it, fulfilling my mission of enticing people to come outside and invigorate our hearts and minds, deepening our connection with nature and ourselves.

One of my challenges with Nature Journaling is having supplies on hand when I’m out. Cumbersome notebooks and pencils get left behind! As a backpacker, all of my gear has to be lightweight! I’m happy to report that on this week’s trip to Big Sur I had something that worked! A tiny bag with tiny pencils and a stack of tiny papers to draw and paint on. Oh, and one fine ink pen!

The tiny papers limited my focus to a small part of the expansive landscape to focus my attention. John Muir Laws calls this a landscapito.

I’m so impressed with myself for doing ten landscapitos on the trip! Here are two favs:

Mill Creek Picnic Area: what we thought we’re otters was Kelp!

Black Rock jutting out of the surf.

These tiny watercolors are valuable, not for what they are, but for what they do for me: deepen my observation, strengthen my body memory of my nature experience, and stimulate questions to consider!

What practices for deepening do you have? If there’s one you teach & want to share, by all means tell me about it!

If there’s a practice you wish you were doing more, tell me that too! We can support each other in doing it!

And, here’s another question! If I offered a virtual week of sharing Nature Journaling techniques with supplies included, coaching and support, would you consider it? Reply to this email and say yes or no!

To your deepening!

In joy,

Regina

https://johnmuirlaws.com

 

 

 

 

 

Important Details

A dreaming Pacific Crest Trail hiker posed this question in a women’s hiking forum: “When & where will you start? how long have you been planning? Would you share some of your plans/knowlege… I’m so nervous I feel I will leave some important detail out.”
She’s touching on one of the Five Essentials in the Guiding Star for Radiant Hiking, and that’s TIMING. Timing is essential in many aspects of our fulfilling walks. When we consider our hike in our life, the timing in the seasons, the timing of each section, in our daily pace, and even in the timing of each step, we can fashion a walk that builds from the inside out, one that takes outer shape from our inner intention. Our hike becomes an expression of our purpose and our physical and spiritual rhythm.

My suggestion to her would be to sit quietly and imagine herself in rhythmic timing in all of these areas and listen to that inner conversation. Then, bring those answers into her plan with the trail. My belief is that this will lay a foundation for a radiantly fulfilling walk.

Heartsinging Pace

I’ve weighed in on a thread started by a mom concerned that her daughter is discouraged on her Appalachian Trail hike. I found out that she’s walked over 200 miles in her first two weeks on the trail, starting in early March on Springer Mountain, Georgia. Here’s my response:
If that’s her heartsinging pace, then bravo. As a ridgerunner, listening to hundreds of hikers, I discovered that the happy, fulfilled hikers were those who found a personal pace that came from within, matching their own body’s comfort with their walk’s purpose. The unhappy, worn out ones were pushing themselves to “make miles” according to some formula they had heard from outside. The hike became something they felt forced  to do, and many had something else they’d rather be doing. I believe there’s an inner purpose and pace that evokes a fulfilling, energizing, heartsinging walk! May hers be so! #singingheartwalk

What Affirmations Do

I’ve been using a set of affirmations that at first are all about what I want to receive from an imaginary partner. Surprisingly, what’s happening is that I’m the one BECOMING what I want to see in him and realizing that there are things to change in myself to RECEIVE a partner like that!