Although 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!
Rushing 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!
Boone 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!!
It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and I’ve got Eminem lyrics on repeat in my head.
If you had
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture
Or just let it slip?
We leave in 4 short hours to drive to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia for the beginning of our Appalachian Trail Flip Flop hike. I’m struggling to sleep because this has been a dream of mine since my middle teens and to finally be about to step out on that trail is a bit overwhelming. It kind of feels like that one shot or one opportunity. Certainly a self made condition. Plus my pack is heavier than I would like!
One of the common videos and/blogs most thru hikers do Is a pre trip gear rundown but I just didn’t have the time or inclination. Did I mention finished our move and had our last kid graduate in the last 7 days? Ok..yes…only obsessively!!
What I’m carrying is really same things as most. The lightest tent I could afford, a Big Agnes Cooper Spur UL2 – but a two man because ….. claustrophobic slightly and my husband plans to visit. Across the board from my self inflating sleeping pad to my darn tough socks I took advice and managed some good sales. At the half way mark I plan on doing a video on what was really useful and what was not! I do have a feeling some stuff will go home. Simply because I just don’t want to carry the weight.
As Boone and I take our first steps on the AT on the 11th we also begin the first official day of our fundraiser for Shatterproof. Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation that addiction causes families. It began as a fathers promise after he lost his son to the disease. This could have been our family, with myself and one of our children in recovery. Boone and I would like to raise $1 for each mile walked for a total of $2190 in the course of our adventure. We are walking to promote Prevention, that Treatment is effective and should be available and Long Term Recovery is possible.
If you wish to donate a link appears here on my blog. It can also be found on my Instagram page and on my Facebook page. Don’t forget to check and see if your employer matches donations!
Ok! Enough begging. It’s now time to rest my mind. I’m thrilled to take you all along for the ride. Just can’t wait to get going!
A year go I began this blog with every intention of sharing my thoughts on my real life experiences in longterm recovery. However my intentions and my follow through can be very different things. It’s very easy for me generate reasons to procrastinate: daily life is busy, I’m not sure there is really the audience that others for my blather and it’s just plain scary to share personal thoughts. However the reality is that it this point in my life I have lost touch with being mindful and living a truly intention life and change is a must.
Many people have asked why hike the Appalachian Trail? I’m 52, have had a shoulder replacement and a couple of spinal injuries. Am I being sensible? Maybe not but I have a drive. A very strong drive to work on making a journey back to living an intentional life. To integrating mindfulness back into who I am as a person, as I was in the very beginning of my recovery. For a long time now I have been living my life without being actively present. Seeking meaning in trivial aspects of life and being left wanting more….but more of what exactly? That is the million dollar question and what I have determined is that what I’m seeking is meaning. This beccame glaring obvious when at my mothers bedside having the honor of helping her ease out of this life. The least trival thing I have done in my lifetime. While there is much meaning from my family I need more from the rest of my life and it is my responsibly to find it.
Mindfullness is the practice of focussing on the present moment and accepting it without any judgement. Harder than it sounds! Do I accept assignments and quit at the halfway point? Go to the gym and decide enough is enough? Am I going head home because I have blisters, its raining and I’m cold or hike on to achieve my 2190 mile goal? Will I give it my all? Focusing my attention on my intentional decisions will make an eye opening experience and hopefully bring me back to where I need to be.
Hiking is obviously great physically but also mentally. Being in nature is where I began my mindfulness practice, watering horses at Wonderland farm. Using that opportunity to tune into both my own experience and the world around me. Being on the AT will give me a chance to do that in a much larger way. Drawing much closer to the natural world. So much closer….and probably longing for a shower like never before!