Progress not Perfection

IMG_5683Although I know for sure I had to come off the trail to fix my spinal strength and balance issue, it’s still a bit heart wrenching. Watching Boone grab his back and head back out there made me proud but also a bit jealous. Until he texted later that his stomach was upset and he had run out of TP! Then I was OK back in civilization!

Martin didn’t love the idea of me trying to get home from PA injured so he came and got me. My Mom and Grandmother always said I married well – because he is so kind and supportive! Never fails! A ride much appreciated because even in very comfortable seats there was no good way to sit – I might have broken my ass.

Now for some healing, working on that balance, hiking the Foothills and prepping for spring. As much as I want to be perfect at everything I have to remember that today in my life it has to be progress not perfection. It’s so hard for me to remember I have it tattooed on the top of my foot.

Its exciting hearing from Boone/Trivia. He’s planning on 17.3 miles tomorrow! He’s a machine! I’m excited to be his cheerleader!

Pause

IMG_5664.JPGRushing through anything is never good for me. I miss details, stop having fun, lose my focus and make mistakes. When I first got sober people with a lot more experience than me kept telling me to pause. Pause before making decisions. Pause before speaking – in meetings,  to friends or just people in general! I was grumpy. Just pause in life and get it together.

This is one of those life skills I wanted to recapture out on the trail and boy did I get forced to learn it! Part of that lesson was trying to capture what I was seeing for later. Butterfly’s wouldn’t stop flitting away. Deer just pop out of the woods and I’m not camera ready. I am not able to pause time and have to simply soak in the moment,  and then be frustrated when words don’t really capture the scene either.

Another part of the pausing lesson hasn’t been as pleasant. The section of the AT from Harpers Ferry to Southern PA isn’t hugely taxing but it does test a good range of skills. There good elevation changes both up and down and a variety of trail surfaces to ease you into the notorious rocks of PA. This includes a few small rock hopping sections that require balance. On a couple of occasions I didn’t stop to do simple things like put my phone in my pocket, enjoy the view or check how far behind I had gotten from a faster group – and fell. Dumb mistakes. Pause. Take time. It’s not a race. It’s a walk in a beautiful place.

On the final occasion I was crossing rocks and missed my balance. It was a very bad fall. I did manage to protect myself somewhat but I hit my head – hard – and my lower back below my pack.

Boone and I had spent the night in seperate places. He was with friends at a Hiker Feed 3 miles ahead and I had camped in a shelter on my own (well a nice young hiker joined me later) and my need to dust myself off and hike to meet him was greater than my desire to sit and cry. While I made my way to the meet up point and thought through my options – continue hiking, risk greater injury, work on improved balance as we go, force Boone to slow his pace for me or the dreaded head home  – I came to a change in the forest. All around me were tall slender pines making a sort of open space and the floor was carpeted with ferns. On my head phones I could hear the beginning of The Crossing Chior’s Ivy and Holly. My late cousin Jeffery Dinsmore was a cofounder of this amazing group and I certainly did pause to take in this moment in this catheral like setting.

Jeff was very pragmatic. A no nonsense person he wouldn’t have had a whole lot of patience for messing about with stupid details. Have a problem with a solution? Fix it. Is your problem going to unconvience another person and spoil thier experience? No brainer. Do you have the luxury to regroup and attempt this again? Then what’s your problem? The song ended and I hiked on.

Taking a moment to stop a re-evaluate I what needed  correct to reach my goal is essential. When I broke my L3 my rehab was great but without continued supervision my body got off line and I’m using other muscles to compensate. Better to learn that before the Whites and serious injury. I will be pausing to correct that and restarting from Springer in late March or early April – with the trail name I earned out on the trail this year. (Haven’t decided if I will tell yet)

Boone is hiking on – as Trivia!

 

 

 

Strong Independant Woman

IMG_5679Boone has long legs! This is hardly surprising since he is 6’2″ and would really have a hard time of it otherwise. As our trail legs have developed it has become clear that mine are never going to keep pace with his. This is kind of worrying because I hate it when he waits for me.

After an amazing thunderstorm in which we had to quickly make the – rain gear or no rain gear call – we rolled into Deer Lick Shelter.  If I had known  all the water from everywhere was going to fall from the sky maybe I would have opted for rain gear – but my clothes got rinsed out.

Into dry clothes, and a nap later, we woke to find that in the matching shelter we had company in the form of the coolest NOBO’s we had met thus far. That’s saying a lot. Maybe what makes them so cool is that we got our trail names from them – although I think I’m going to keep mine under wraps for a bit!

Panther and Overdrive shared stories, knowledge and tons of laughs. Boone was particularly impressed by Panter’s well above average fire building skills. He wants to learn at the foot of the master. I can’t believe I didn’t get pictures! I’m going to have to get better photo taking skills – because the people we are meeting are beyond interesting and I don’t want to forget them.

Morning comes early on the AT – especially for slower hikers. Boone and I  planned an almost 11 mile day to the next shelter so off we went. Along the way meeting hikers going in either direction is always fun – even just a simple hello – but the most fun is running into people you know. Panther and Overdrive came with news of a hiker feed at a park three miles beyond our goal and Boone was stoked. People his age and food!! Off they went – I told them I would catch up. Dangerous words – hurrying isn’t good for me. I trip. Of course I face planted. Nothing serious but it’s getting old.

By the time I got to our original goal I was done. Tired, hot and hungry I texted I was staying at the shelter and to have a good time. Want to freak out your 18 year old? Tell him you are staying in the woods alone!

After talking him down – I’ve survived to 52! It’s ok! I headed down into Tumbling Run Shelter. The guides are’t joking that it’s steep and it’s a hike to the water source but it’s so pretty! I was so excited to be alone. A brand new bear box meant no bear bag to hang. A broom to sweep the shelter. The privy was tolerable. Nice. However I got joined by two guys, one that just stayed for dinner and hiked out and the other spent the night. They were super nice, smart, zero creep factor and had good stories. I wasn’t afraid, slept like a baby that actually sleeps and hiked out at a reasonable time! Success! I fell all adult and stuff!!

Nothing is an accident and real achievement isn’t easy

We’ve told our kids many times that nothing worth achieving comes easily. Work hard at what you want, you will see results and feel good about yourself. I learned that from my parents, so did Martin and it has certainly proved to be true in our lives.

This hike is once again proving this adage to be true. Each day Boone and I are getting stronger physically. Going a bit farther – like today pushing through the 11 mile mark. We’re getting used to the need to push through the ache and muscle fatigue to get to the top of the rocks. The sense of pride is so worth it! Knowing as well that we are surrounded by people who have been in the same position in the beginning of their hike is so reassuring. They pushed through and are so willing to share information and support. Plus stories of thier treks, reasons for hiking and past lives. Damn interesting people!

The other day I said this was the hardest thing I have ever done however I’ve have had time to reflect. Lots of time. This is probably the hardest physical endeavor attempted but not mental or emotional. Last year I was there to help my mom die, we had to help our middle child become well 18 months ago and in 2006 I got clean and sober. These things were by far harder. Most especially finally managing after to get into both substance and mental health recovery.

In day to day life I don’t think of that much but out here I am very aware of the gift I was given. I’ve had almost 11 years of bonus time and so many people just haven’t gotten that.

We checked into a hotel to rest and as we got there we noticed ( it was super obvious! ) police cars and an ambulance. They were in the parking lot

because a very drunk woman had to be removed from a room unconscious. Not the first time. Eleven years ago that could have been me – that last weekend I used.

The timing of seeing that wasn’t an accident. My reason for this hike is to reconnect with my serenity, support Shatterproof, appreciate my recovery and achieve something that doesn’t come easily.

Day 5

My traveling companion along the AT – he doesn’t complain and he never fails to tell the truth about what he experiences.

Trekking With Trivia

So, obviously I’m not writing everyday. Some evenings I just can’t find the energy to do so.

Quick sitrep:

I’ve luckily only had to dig a hole to shit in once. So that’s a plus. Thankfully most of the campsites we’ve stopped have a privy, basically a raised wooden box with a fake toilet over a mouldering pile of crap, which isn’t really that bad.

Some of the views we get more than make up for the blisters and pain. I’m currently writing this while sitting on the cliffs of a site called Annapolis Rocks, the sunset vieled behind a heavy curtain of rainclous covering the farms Bellow.

The only consistent pain I have is the stinging burn of sweat in my open blisters that have begun to bloom and deflate under my feet. Bit event that fades in the evenings.

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Do what you think you can’t do

Today on the way to Annapolis Rocks I looked at an up hill section a good 2 miles out and just wanted to sit down and cry. It was one of those elevation climbs that just goes on forever, divided up by logs you have to step up on. Frankly it sucked. It was the 3rd or 4th of those today and my feet are cooked. But there’s a blogger I watch on YouTube who has a very contagious upbeat attitude about life and her motto is “Do what you think you can’t do”. Mary’s words very much got me up that last hill today!

On the plus side – and there are of course many –  today has been a day of so much wild life! White tailed deer sprung out on me because I was a bit too quiet and startled them. I just about got run over! I saw two black snakes that cared nothing about me at all. There seem to be villages of chipmunks everywhere. They like to watch as we pass. As if we are a rather sad parade with no bands or floats. We hear woodpeckers in the morning and I’ve seen several cardinals today.

Trail legs wise we are getting stronger but blisters are a thing. Doing all the right things to prevent them but it is what it is. We soaked our feet in a spring this evening and it was bliss!

In other news I fell yesterday and took a rock to the knee. Carelessness on my part. Hint: stop to put your phone away. The injury caused my knee to give way today, so fall number two. I’m less than thrilled. Boone and I are going to rest our injuries tomorrow. We are tough but not stupid.

Do what you think you can’t do applies to sitting tight when you don’t really want to. At least the view here is stunning and I have my comfy shoes!

Let’s talk about real

IMG_5615Nothing could have prepared me for the AT. No amount of running stairs. Not walking – certainly not in very flat Houston. Squats helped. Stretching was good, and I don’t regret and of the preparation. What does prepare you for the trail? The trail!

This is only day two and there are some lessons I have learned. First be sure to ease in. Every NOBO thruhiker passing us so far has been so kind and generous with advice. Universally it has been go slow to avoid injury. People who don’t do this spiral down and drop out. Without fail.

Second the weight and fit of my pack is damn important. I have to take it seriously. Take what I need and coincider luxuries carefully.

Third – hydrate. Hydrate.  Hydrate. Powerade – yum.

Finally my feet are my best friend. Camp shoes are my favorite thing right now. More than food. Not more than water. That would be silly.

Oh…and hanging bear bags? Hysterical, hard and deeply satisfying when you hit your branch!!!