Appalachian Trail thoughts both negative and positive and one special bit

 

I remember from the first, we had a Skype meeting and it was roughly two weeks from my leaving.  I was excited and impressed with what I’d done but no one on chat or on that call, even though I pointed out I’d timed a hostel stay for the ability to be there, understood or Yayed! for me over my being out there doing it.  I cried a little during it silently and dryly as possible as other hostelers would come and go, then I went and cried in bed.

You see, for them I’d been seen on a chat or email, they’d had their normal life timing going on, their normal life type going on.  It’d been two weeks for them, I’d been gone for months.

In a culture where you see the same people two shelters in a row and they’re suddenly your close friend

where food was bought by weight and calories and you would and others would lay out their supplies and count and weigh and swap

where with the occasional town stop or crossing you were traveling through the woods with no normal pacing around you; it was just “it’s daylight” and “oh good, there’s water”

where wiping with leaves is for real

where it’s accepted that many places you can’t go off-trail to go to the bathroom due to cliffs or such and both sexes have reached a point of “fuck it” and stand as far to the edge of the trail 2, 2.5 foot wide trail as possible  and just drop drawers and pee or poo… and sometimes they see you or have to walk by… and sometimes you see them or have to walk by.

where time is measured in miles and getting to somewhere allowed or at least somewhat flat before dark

where you look up or are told tomorrow is some number less than 15 miles and it feels pretty normal, hey just tell me how up and down is it, do you know?

where you look up or are told tomorrow is less than 9 miles and you’re chipper because it’s a short day, those are the ups and downs? ehn, that’s fine, it’s a short day.

one pair of pants

i peed my one pair of pants a little and have 3 more days until a hostel… good thing I have handsoap and a plastic baggy to shake…  and thank GOD it’s sunny out and they might dry today/overnight…

damn, they didn’t.  one pair of pants…

we’ve sorta all seen each other at three shelters and hostels now, so we’re a family and the fastest of us is staying at the top of that peak until the last one of us gets there, by god!!!

no one saw my Sour Patch Kids fall on the ground, right?  Right, We’ll help you eat them.  great!

but… i want dinner but… the bearbag cable system has made it impossible to get my bag down…  well, i wanted dinner…

Fuck bear bag hanging…           …wait, did that sound like a bear?

I found out the next day would be my birthday because I bothered to open and sign one of the social hiker’s logs along the trail and saw someone noted it was the 17th.  Had no idea.

It’s becoming daylight, time to tear this shit down as fast as I can.

It’s becoming dark, time to throw this shit up as fast as I can.

There’s WHAT virus?  Shelters are being cordoned off???

Hey!  I’ve managed to get a sedentary day’s expected calorie amount if you total the last 8 days of eating!  And no, I feel fine!

Shit, we ALL lost 10-15lbs this first week?

I’m in a town with a store with food??  Coke and Apple Sauce, STAT!  I get to catch up on calories!  What?  Why nothing hardier or more solid like you’re eating, you calorie-laden friend?  Because you can just keep drinking these basically with only about the occasional 5 minute breather.  We’re not in the same food world, man.

Fuck, I have to find a limb that’ll work for a bear bag.  Ooo!  Yay!  Fuck, I have to throw this over that limb…  thank god no one is here to see me.   Oh, look, actually from that angle there’re some guys getting water laughing watching me.

Smiles and laughter with others about bear bag hanging endeavors when you gather.

Sleeping inside TWO sleeping bags and waking up in the early morning repeatedly because it iced that night and your ass is FREEZING YOU AWAKE because you keep sliding against that side of the tent.

Strapped into everything and falling and landing on your back, unable to roll onto your knees, totally turtled, trying to find some way to unsnap or move somehow, laying there thinking and struggling so you can get up purely and only with the reason of someone else is eventually going to see you.

Oh my GOD, guys, guys, look up at the stars!!

 

Israel is a beautiful country… don’t go there.

Israeli Jews can tell the best Holocaust jokes you’ve ever heard.

The smell of the dirt.

The smell of the mud.

Sloshing through a trail of only mud puddles.

Seeing green begin.

Going Oh Christ not over that one up there…  Oh yep, I’m going over that one there.  Hm.  Meh, I’ve gone over higher by now.

I am like a mountain goat going downhill.  Became so as growing up, lost use for it, found it never left me.  And trekking poles make it even easier.   I’m fucking amazing on a downhill.  I’m very nimble and used to controlled slides.

Also, that gully climbing that I’ve not used in years still is with me, both up and down.  Granite climbs along that route aren’t a joke.  Especially if you’re 5’3″ with an inseam of 24-26″.    Read back a little to the tree-assist during one day.  Not mentioned are things like surprise in self and others that you can do an uneven-handed pool-exit lift into a space above you with 30ish lbs on your back.  Or just helping out another get down a wet granite slant by showing them the simple fact that you walk down with your feet sideways.

Granite.  Shale.  Dry or wet.  God, when partly wet from small trickles leaking through.

 

Chunks of quartz at a size I’d never known existed.

Not getting pictures of the quartz the size I’d never known existed.

“Trail-named” by Delta Family who are at home because I can’t get myself trail-named on the actual trail.

Laughing over two sides of me that have always existed and will continue to…

Civilization Rumpus:  bleach scrub the bathtub before and after each bath.  Camping/Field Rumpus:  there’s not THAT much dirt in my tea.

Learning you only need cheap conditioner to wash hair and body.

Making it two month and half of even that split into at home healing, not actually out hiking… but still understanding and now being part of the subculture of through-hikers.

Said I’d no real interest in ever trying again afterwards as I’d other plans to explore and it had been a one time desired goal and unhappy with myself over it… Past month been thinking about doing it again.  Not a when or want date or anything, just about doing it again.  Knowing a lot more already that will help.

I’d remembered but forgotten my connection to nature.  Every day out there was a miracle and part of the coming home failure that hit me later after the first disappointment started fading was getting hit with not being out there.  I grew up in the trees and bushes and rocks and gullies.  My every day outside the house was in the woods by default.  I was filled with the rustle of leaves and branches, bothered to pleasure with sticking thick bushes to get through, sitting on moss banks with sunshine on the water, going out to dance in the rain and feel it fall over me, sloshing, laying in streams, hiding in fields, fucking on dead leaves and sticks, wondering always at the ice storms shaping the trees to bows and the sun shining blue and sparkle off them, snowangels!, watching the leaves change color and fall bits around you til bare, gathering the strawberries and blackberries and raspberries that grew wild, dodging and playing grape fights in vineyards that you’d no right to, standing naked in the night time with no one or a special someone able to see you, feeling the wind and learning to control it, smelling dark green, tasting the maple sap’s watery sweetness, just sitting and hearing it all, feeling it all, feeling my self and core’s connection with the woods and sky and wind and rain and birds and dirt and all of it.  I’d remembered but forgotten.

 

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