As I drive down the road during my lunch hour, heading home or back to work, the light is just right currently, and the pine trees and sandy soils around the area remind me a lot of Florida. It makes me think a lot about the pine sandhills and geocaching, though we haven’t geocached in ages. Of course then I think about the Florida Trail which results into the Appalachian Trail…and that is a vicious little cycle which leads to a rabbit hole of wishful thinking.
Our two year summit of Katahdin came and went (August 12th). I had planned on writing something before we left for WA but I sat at the computer several times unable to come up with words. As all of my fellow AT friends post their yearly summit anniversary photos on Facebook I get nostalgic and reminisce every time.
To be honest, I can’t believe it has been two years since we were out there hiking our way to Maine. It feels like yesterday and yet a lifetime ago. It doesn’t take much for me to think about one tiny instance on the trail—it could be the moment that we hit 500 miles, just north of the Grayson Highlands, a non-descript spot in the middle of the trail as we were descending a mountain mid-morning—or it could be evening at any one of the shelters, making meals, reading shelter-logs, and talking with the rest of our thru-hiker comrades.
One of the things that I loved about our trip to Washington was the eau de hiker that comes with a few days without a shower. Yes, I know, this is the weirdest thing ever, but it smelled of enjoyment and happiness if that makes any sense. A backpacking trip quickly brings back the appreciation for the smallest things during the hike and after when you are back in civilization—time to lounge and read a book (during), glorious sunsets (during), water you don’t have to treat (oh, public water treatment systems…!), hot water in the shower….
I’m envious of every single person out there hiking and being adventurous. And at the same time I’m thankful and happy that we’ve bought a house and I get to finally grow my own garden and call a place ‘mine’. Every month or so when the A.T. Journeys magazine comes I wish we lived somewhere within driving distance of the A.T. so we could hike on weekends or volunteer. I’m definitely envious of Deal and Steadee who get to walk less than a quarter of a mile, and could turn right or left and walk to Georgia or Maine if they wanted. (They run Bears Den hostel now.)
About a week ago someone posted a link to this photo gallery of A.T. hikers requesting anyone to identify themselves or others they knew. I thought I recognized one person from 2010 but wasn’t sure and the rest I didn’t think I knew. Not to say that I hadn’t run across them at one point, but what made me think a little bit more was that while we were in Maine, or whatever state, there was a group of people several days or a week, even weeks, behind or ahead of us that I didn’t know. I wondered about their trail experiences—did they have good days going over exciting mountains like we did or did they go through it in bad weather? How they experienced the trail in one part of Virginia might have been completely different for us—spring was just beginning there when we started through Virginia, maybe it was nearly summer when they walked through or perhaps it was fall if they were walking south.
Yes, strange thoughts, but it piques my interest—seeing the trail in many aspects and varying time frames. How different it all would be. Maybe that’s my problem…I know the A.T., but I don’t get to know it in ways that people who live near it get to know it if they wanted.
Right now I’m thinking…about the dreadfully long 24 mile day where we crossed from New Jersey to New York. The day started out rather pleasant but with twelve miles done by lunch and another twelve to go after, the afternoon tarried too long as we heard the sounds of boats on the lake below the ridge we were on. Instead of playing in the water, washing away the piles of sweat and grime, we were baking under the mid-day sun as it reflected off the rocks on the ridge. Thankfully we made it to a road crossing where we detoured to an ice cream shop for a pre-dinner snack before heading to the next shelter where we caught up with Merf, Snack Attack, Speaker, Spark and Caboose, and a group of AMC hikers. There was instant pudding for dessert thanks to the AMC group leaders…yeah the simple things that make you happy, things like instant pudding.
And so I will keep trying to remember the little bits of memories that fly into my brain in the middle of the day and be thankful that we had such an grand adventure.