Sunrise on Noland Divide
From Regina’s 2013 Journal –
Winter Walk on the Benton MacKaye Trail
It’s our fourth morning on the trail. It’s still dark, but the short day length nudges me to wake up and get started before daylight. I listen. “It’s not raining! Hurray! “ The lack of falling rain, however, does not mean that it’s dry! Here at 4,000 feet elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s not raining because we are in the clouds.
Warm and snug in our double layer down sleeping bags, I can imagine pacing down the trail feeling warmed by brisk walking in the cold, foggy air. That will feel great! What deters me, however, is resisting the transition from being warm inside to being warm outside! In between, there’s a careful, methodical procedure of striking camp that promises a comical dance with cold and wet that unfolds in quickly executed steps. You see, we don’t carry extra clothes, just one set of inside clothes to wear in the tent, and one set of outside clothes to wear on the trail. Since it rained yesterday, our outermost layers are wet. Our dance goes something like this:
- Layer on a sweater and shoes without socks “Don’t touch the dry sleeping bags!”
- “oooh. Wet shoes!”
- Grab an umbrella and run out, sans pants to go down the trail and into the woods for toileting (It’s still dark and NO ONE else is around, so no worries about mooning anyone)
- Run back to the tarp and remove the wet shoes. “Back into the sleeping bag, aaaah!”
- Lean out into the spacious tarp and cook breakfast. “Sure is great to be inside! We can even cook in here!” Breakfast includes a thermos of hot and sweet tea before hot porridge and a second thermos of tea for the trail.
- Now, with our bellies warm, stuff the sleeping bags and wrap them in trash compactor bags. The bag on top is slightly damp from condensation, but the inside bag is dry. This two-bag system works well for always having at least one completely dry bag.
- Deflate, roll up, and pack the Thermarest air mattresses. Sit on the foam Z-Rest mats, our second layer of insulation on the ground.
- With gratitude for dry, inside clothes, remove the dry socks, puffy jacket, and long johns. Still on is the thin wool sweater worn as a base layer. Add the wicking shirt, and the second wool sweater. “MMM. Great to have dry clothes on my core.”
- “OK! Now! Grab the wet stuff. It’s gotta be done! Just take it all outside and get this overwith!”
- Stand on the foam pad.
- On goes the rain jacket.
- On go the wet socks.
- On go the wet underpants to “aaaaooo and eeee” sounds. Then the shorts. “Hmm almost dry.”
- On go the insulated Powershield rain pants. “Wow! They’re actually dry inside.!”
- On go the shoes. “Great! They’re pliable and not frozen. Must not be so cold!”
- “Now! Strike the tarp, gather up the sopping fabric, stuff it into its big, loose bag, and strap it on the outside of the pack well away from those preciously dry sleeping bags and inside clothes.”
- “Done! All dressed and packed.” In about 10 minutes. Fingers and feet are just starting to get cold.
- “Let’s walk! We’ll be warm in a few minutes.”
Before turning away, though, we take notice of the first streaks of color in the morning sky. Deep gray clouds tease the orange light, playing hide-n-seek with the morning.
Separating ourselves from the cold, damp air with Gore-tex and wool, we head down the slope. Since we had camped on the ridge, our first mile is a gradual descent of about 700 feet. Although we walk briskly in the struggling daylight, descending doesn’t warm us up to the core. We keep our wool scarves and four layers on, happy to have mastered the art of layered dressing.
“Look!” I remark. “Hikers! We’re not alone.” Indeed, two hikers, draped with ponchos, walk toward us. “We feel like we failed,” they moan. “It’s our first hiking trip, and our tent leaked and got our stuff wet. So, we’re cutting our trip short.”
“Wow!” I sympathize. “Last night was a challenging night. This is the hardest kind of weather for camping. Wet and cold is the worst! Really, you could be congratulating yourselves for even coming out here.” We talk about shelter options, me praising the virtues of my Ray-Way Products tarp. Our meeting is brief, as stopping even for a few minutes quickens the loss of precious body heat. We share emails and head off in the opposite direction, brightened by their beginner’s determination.
Regina Reiter in Winter Walk on the Benton MacKaye Trail, January 1, 2013
Reflections on Radical Forgiveness on the Trail
The 13 Steps to Radical Forgiveness, a simple verbal process for shifting energy fast, comes in handy often on the trail – or anywhere! Later that day, with the cold, damp air persisting, we feel stressed and a little worried about our well-being. In the past, before I knew about Radical Forgiveness, I would have kept these feelings to myself, ignoring them and pushing on silently through my discomfort. Back then, I believed that I had to tough out the hardships and prove that I was strong.
Now, however, I review Step 3 – “Are you willing to allow the feelings to be just the way they are and to flow in your body where they want to flow?”
“Yes.” I say, “I’m willing to love myself just as I am and acknowledge my feelings just as they are.”
We share our concerns and keep checking in with each other throughout the day to monitor our stamina and comfort. We support each other with frequent drinks of hot tea and encouragement, turning this hazardous chilly, wet day into a safe, fulfilling, and wonder-full day.
Notice when you push down your true feelings and “to
tough it out.” Do you hear admonitions like, “you shouldn’t feel that way,” or “stop complaining,” or “just buck up and smile?” What’s your chiding voice saying?
Please share your comments below!
Now it’s your turn!
Do you want to learn how to
- Love yourself just as you are?
- Express your true feelings authentically and safely?
- Create fulfilling relationships even with difficult people?
You can quickly, with gentleness, support, and noticeable results.
Check out Regina’s 30-day program, Radiant Self Love – Forgiveness Walks Lifestyle.
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