Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Every silver lining's got a ... touch of grey. Life needs both, right? Silver. Grey. The mid-tones to a rare occurrence; black and white. I've been feeling kindred with a brisk /slow shuffled beat of urban grey landscapes where pedestrians' breath resembles car exhaust. A place with rosy cheeks, chapped lips, coffee, and scarves.
I'm wondering if it's part of my pendulum; if months of green, dirt, water pulsing is swinging me to the other side; fashion, people, pavement. There's a sign at Neel's Gap, the first hostel north of Georgia on the Appalachian Trail, that says "Wherever you are, be all there".
As beautiful and dear as Botetourt county will always be I am restless in a childhood bedroom with no definitive map for the next bit of my journey. I'm trying to conjure the strength and perspective to not settle in any area of my life. I'm trying to work hard enough to afford spreading my wings under a warm spring sun.
Christmas feels more grey than silver. I finished the Chronicles of Narnia in November. I've been thinking a lot about the last book, where the friends of Narnia walk through the stable, through a brightly lit door, only to find all this time they've been living in a pale reflection of the "true narnia". I'm working on that motion.
I have a vague memory of warm hearts, sparkling long nights, magic. Although it seems far away, it's worth fighting for, so slowly and surely I hope to make my way back.
I hope you have all those things through the holidays; warmth, a sense of belonging, tasty sweets, glittering hope and light in a dark time.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Nov 17 Snow Shower / Wind 33°/19° 50 %
Nov 18 AM Snow Showers / Wind 25°/13° 30 %
Nov 19 Mostly Sunny 35°/21° 10 %
Nov 20 Mostly Cloudy 39°/19° 10 %
Nov 21 Rain / Snow Showers 36°/16° 30 %
Nov 22 Few Snow Showers 40°/19° 30 %
Nov 23 Partly Cloudy 38°/29° 20 %
Nov 24 Rain / Snow Showers 47°/24° 60 %
Nov 25 Mostly Sunny 46°/27° 20 %
Nov 26 Partly Cloudy 44°/26° 10 %
10 days... then it's Keyser WV for Thanksgiving, no matter what I do the next ten days. I ran Camelot yesterday; the stretch of trail between 220-Rte 11; my first steps of this thru hike. I feel weird even calling my journey a thru hike anymore, but.. for all intensive purposes you know what I mean. I crossed paths with Homer Witcher, a man who thru hiked with his wife and 2 young children years ago. We hugged. "I thought I was the only one crazy enough to be out here right now" he said. "Nah, I'm pretty crazy too" we laughed. We briefly talked about the trail "I've seen a bunch of southbounders out there, mostly guys. I can tell they're lonely. I think they'd quit at the drop of a dime if they could. You know I think sometimes it takes more courage to quit than to keep hiking" he said.
Yeah. So I surprisingly ran the whole stretch mp3 jammin out with Norah Jones, Damien Rice and other mellow beautiful songwriters. Those hills that caused me so much trouble during cross country and beyond seemed shorter, smaller, more forgiving. I thought about how they led me to Shenandoah, to Smart mountain, to Franconia Ridge, to Bemis Mountain, to Katahdin. By the time I turned to run back my mp3 picked upbeat songs... baby please don't go down to New Orleans well I love you so baby please don't go.
I don't want to hike in the cold. I don't want to hike in the dark. I don't want to hike alone. You work with what you are given. I want to hike. I want to walk the trail more than anything else right now, so I'll have to deal with the elements.
I can't explain this to you. I can't explain this to me.
Insight from my friends:
Birdbath-Don't think, just hike.
Hot Cheese-Everyone has a hardest part of their journey, something meant for only them; something they must confront and overcome, maybe this is mine. Maybe for some reason there are deep seeded parts of me that need to get through a season like this.
Bones-the thru-hiker is a master of adaptation, fierce as campfire embers,malleable as earth in a stream, cold but emotional, vulnerable,impervious to the elements...breathing air, allowing sunshine to reveal, darkness to obscure...a ghost, a wraith, a living, breathingbeing....
Low-I've hesitated to just come out and say "C'mon Bound, it's time to walk", but you know - at this point I feel like I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't. THE TRAIL IS THERE FOR YOU - WAITING. And you are so clearly ready to go.
So go. And don't just go saying "I'm hoping to do some more VA miles". Go saying "I'm walking to Dville", or "I'm walking through the Smokies". Walk with conviction and destination. Walk so that the trail knows you are there.
New Hampshire is gone sister. Peace. Maine... gone... New England... history. What you have now is a life on the horizon - Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Almost Heaven, North to Montana. There is a trail that is leading you right up to all of those places, and it's just outside your door. "I don't think I leave the East until I finish this". Your words, not mine.
When I was in Erwin - I looked myself in the mirror and said "Low - Man the Fuck Up". I got back on trail the next day - so proud that I was able to give myself the tough love I needed - and also that I called myself by my trail name for the first time out loud in private.
Bound - Man the Fuck Up. Do what we both know you're going to do - which is walk. Stop fighting the trail - the current. Let go. Let the river take you. Let the mountains lead you.
THE REWARD IS WORTH IT.
Hasty-Don't forget to look up.
So it's back to Atkins for me, against all logical reason. If I don't freeze and lose my digits to frostbite I'll update again prob around thanksgiving.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I went to Emory with Geronimo via Heather a couple weeks ago. After an eventful election night at my old home Hasty dropped me under the sign in the Damascus town park and I walked north. It was a beautiful solitary 5 day 80 some mile walk. The woods are grey, mostly cloudy, cold wind whips through them. A few topaz colored leaves straggle on bare tree limbs. When the sun breaks through the clouds in rare moments it is epic. I heard it would rain 4+ days and my best childhood friend passionately wanted me to celebrate her 25th birthday with her. SO I took a ride from Atkins back to Daleville.
I've been tossing around ideas, feelings, desires, options, etc around in my head since being in Daleville. I know I want the trail. I know I'm weary of walking it in the current conditions. I may return to see if I can overcome that feeling and reconnect with my original desire to hike. If that doesn't go well I'll probably postpone things until spring shifts circumstances. I do not plan to leave this area (or cut my hair =) until the miles are walked. I'll keep ya posted as best I can. Thanks for your continued care and support. ~B
Monday, November 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I haven't done too much since being in Virginia other than cook and hang out with my family. It's strange and disorienting. I have hopes to hike s'more before Christmas but right now things are very fluid. I am beginning to feel a little better physically. My camera was sent off for 2-4 weeks to be assessed and hopefully repaired. "I guess you use this a lot" the Best Buy Geek Squad said... "yeah, I smiled sheepishly... I hike a lot... that's my adventure camera." "You got this in May," he continued "the serial number is worn off".
Geronimo has been the best to bum around with, always ready for trips, rest, or ridiculousness I have a strong feeling I won't return to the AT without him.
A song I first heard from a guy who's become one of my closest fellows on this AT adventure; a happy song
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Where are you? How are you doing? folks ask me. Generally I like to give people the report they want to hear; I'm happy. I love it here. Weather's great. Company amazing. Heart's alive.
The past few weeks since coming to Georgia have unraveled in an unforeseen manner. I unloaded tired in Gainsville GA from the bus and approached Springer thru Amacoloa. Spent the first night alone in the Springer Mtn Shelter. Awoke to rain, fog, cold, hiked 13ish miles anyway. Since then, honestly, things have been rough.
Anxious/ excited/ confident I went to GA looking to hike strong, fast, happy. By the third morning I was throwing up with a cold and jaded about a sketchy run in with an armed local. I hiked on.
There is an indescribable, ego, culture, occasional confinement that the AT conjures. Mostly it is strength; the desire and drive to try harder when all is lost, the passion to dig deeper when your body aches, the miles are long, nights are cold, smiles sparse, and the echoes of your absent friends whisper in your soul wakeful hours. There is strength in the hardship you know you've come thru, and a courage rising out of the mountains and heavens around you, urging you to move another step, journey on.
That being said, there comes a time, for me anyway, all the strength, grandeur, beauty of the trail is not enough. After many slow long days of being humbled between Springer and Fontana Dam I have retreated to Virginia for some rest and refocusing. I do not plan to "quit" the trail. I do not necessarily plan to continue in the "traditional" form (aka a straight line north Fontana-Daleville). I am not in a place right now to plan period.
I have decided I want to walk Southern Appalachia with my heart. The remaining quarter of the trail I have not traversed I have been saving for years, months, to experience, enjoy, in an all encompassing wholesome way.
I can't do that when I'm sick, so I hope to return to the TC (trail corridor) when I am not sick. I'm also hoping to walk many of those miles with friends who can do a week here and there and possibly Mr.Geronimo himself =)
How am I? Beat up and searching. Where am I? Somewhere safe and warm I want to be. How's the south? Painfully Beautiful.
Despite the nights being 20-30 degrees and days windy and sunny most of the leaves thru the mountains are still green, save an overall tawnyness of a draught-ridden summer (yellows and browns). The light is lovely; a rich, gold-pink saturation of the landscape. I spent a night last week on a bald mountain top Cherokees went to to talk their gods. There were meteor showers, face melting sunset and sunrise, wind, light, fierce frigid beauty.
I have not been totally alone. I have met many groups of men hiking together who know one another from church. I even had the opportunity to participate in campfire bible study one of my first nights in NC; an enriching, comfortable, inspiring experience (some of the first christian camaraderie I've had since moving out of Allendale in April).
So I decided after a day of river walking and mentally wrestling I would meet my Dad in a few days with the intention of putting myself back together before figuring out how the journey goes from here. The day I met him, to top it all off, my camera quit working. I felt like Artex was sinking in the swamp of sadness, NES style. Pretty much on the brink of complete breakdown my dad and I weaved our way back north thru Tennessee country roads.
So that's what's up. Thanks for your love, understanding and support. I'll let ya know what's next when I know, for now however... I'm reaching a peace of existence.
Two more thoughts:
On my shakedown hike in the Dolly Sods with Carrie & Big Al I stumbled upon this verse
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
A lonely sad uncomfortable night between the NOC and Fontana I stumbled upon this verse
"Thus says the Lord: 'The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built..." Jeremiah 31:2-4
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Hard to believe I've been living AT life for 152 days now. Sometimes as I hike I do calculations.... how many days in a year... how long have I been doing ths... how many more miles to 220... how many days... how many miles each day. Um. I'm an artist- generally... I don't do math. Sigh. Just another thing life on the AT has made me adapt to.
I was pretty amped to get to Georgia. My summit of Katahdin proved to be nothing less than epic. Hot Cheese, Birdbath and I ended up hiking 21 miles that day, from 6am to 1am, I was on the summit of Baxter at 6pm, we descended the 5 miles back to Katahdin Stream Campground in complete darkness, in the rain, with only each other and our headlamps for comfort. It was exhausting, beautiful, it was other-wordly.
My travels after that turned to a whirlwind. Their friends got us to Millinocket, then the Bangor ME bus station. I switched between the stations on my bus seat armrest bob dylan, damien rice, will ferrell movie. The scenery melded from blazing foilage and rain to the metallic tungsten glow of Boston. We poured out of the bus into the subway station. Classical guitar amped twanged thru the tunnels... passengers buried their noses from stinky hikers... Hot Cheese and I laughed till we cried.
After a lovely visit and delicious Indian food I was flying Boston->Atlanta->Richmond. Ben and Dad picked me up and with a great sigh of relief and comfort there I was, back in my beautiful Virginia. Virginia was mostly the same. Still green, busy traffic around RIC, tasty Olive Garden.
The next week I tried to squeeze as much friend/ family catch up time into my trail chores of getting ready for the south. It was restful, ridiculous and busy all at the same time. I went out for drinks, played frisbee with the dogs, was reunited with Martin, worked demo day at ODT and ofter various madness.
Before I knew it I was kicking around downtown Roanoke with Sarah feeling a lot like Angie waiting for a Greyhound. After many hours and stops in Wytheville, Johnson City, and Atlanta I met Josh form the Hiker Hostel at the Gainsville bus station.
Despite some pouting I went to Amacolola State Park and hiked the 9ish miles on the approach trail to Springer Mtn summit... and then... there I was. Alone on the southern terminus a little more than a week after being on Special K.
It rained all the next day. I walked anyway, cruising the beautiful Georgian trail. I have walked every day until today. It was cloudy and windy until yesterday afternoon.
Georgia, like the rest of the trail, is not unfolding like I would've imagined. My left foot is bothering me and my medically attuned friends think I may be developing tendinitis. A lot of the hostels buddies have recommended I stay at are closed for the season until the spring rush of thru hikers. My third morning out I woke up feeling terrible, with a cold, and throwing up. After debating and wondering about my health and the foot, I thought... I'll be damned if I don't get out of Georgia... slowly but surely I will... if Low can hike with Lyme's Disease and Bones can puke all over the Presidential range I can hike Georgia right now. So- I did. A lot of days, miles, thoughts, feelings later I'm here in Hiawassee, the last town in Georgia, 9 trail miles from NC. I am taking a day off.
The sickness is probably just a cold but hiking all day and sleeping outside isn't helping so I'm holed up in a Motel for a second night. It's sunny and beautiful, but I'm wrapping my head around the fact that if I'm not well I will start to break down, and now, just as much as ever, I am committed to continuing this journey, on foot, to Daleville.
It's a hard part of the AT Journey; balancing between mental prowess and physical breakdown. I have dug deep the past few days to sift thru my last three weeks- what a whirlwind: Maine wilderness, snackpackers, Special K summits, cities, mass transit, friends, family, beautiful VA, hiking again- a flip that has been a little harder than I anticipated. Before I left Virginia I was sure to do a few things; love Geronimo, wash my sleeping bag and pack, fix up my MP3 player Carrie helped me out with, and watch the Neverending story. Those have proved to be strengthening in hard times.
I think a lot about my life, my heart, my physical place while the past 152 days. A few things dawned on me.
1. Reaching Daleville is not just a completion of this journey, it is likely my last hoorah in the Eastern Time zone for awhile. Now that I am back in the south that is more sad and bittersweet than I thought it would be while dreaming of Western Montana the past few months hiking in New England
2. Sometimes I consider this trip in terms of what my heart has gone through. While in Monson Maine Burass, Powder River and I watched Charlie's Angels. Kinda silly and a stray from the usual socially active. conscience movies I watch... but there was a line I've been thinking a lot about. Charlie or that other guy tell the girls a heart is a muscle... and just like the rest of their muscles if they want to be strong and smart and able to endure things they must exercise, and sometimes that hurts for awhile, and sometimes it doesn't seem to be worth it, but if they keep at the work out- it will get strong. Well- let's just say this heart of mine goes thru a lot. Aside from the male mumbo jumbo I realized rolling through dusk south on 81 over the New River, Wytheville, Emory, into Tennessee- this journey is a love story. Not about a girl and a boy, not about a woman and a man, not about two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl (although that's all there too) nope, this is a love story about me and Virginia. Virginia always being there, always waiting, always beautiful welcoming strengthening. Stirs my soul. I love Virginia.
So... after a day of rest I plan to walk on... though the weather be fowl and hakken Kraks crowl... because Atrayu from the NES wouldn't give up... and Virginia is just a little further north.
Oh yeah- and a thought on the ever present question EVERYONE asks me-
To wonder. To breathe. To move.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Big thank you to the Reeds, Amtowers, Vangilders, Mom, and Outdoor Trails crew for sending mail to Monson. I was surprised when I went to retrieve shoes to leave with about 5 pieces of mail. All of your thoughts, prayers and encouragement are very touching. I don't say it enough, but thank you and I love you.
I plan to hike out of town tommorow morning; entering "the one hundred mile wilderness". That will lead me right to the foot of Katahdin I suppose. My tenative plan is to climb the mountain Saturday September 27. Plans after that get a little more complicated and open, but somehow I'll make my way south (not on foot) to either and Virginia, NOLA, Georgia. If any of you would be interested in taking me from Daleville VA to Springer mountain in GA the first weekish of October let me know.
The trail has mellowed out drastically from the rocky steep craggy mountains of New Hampshire and southern Maine. The past week has been rolling through pond sides, pine forests, and snowmobile trails with an occasional welcomed mountain in between. I hear, I hope, the wilderness is similar to that, with Special K rising about 4,000 in elevation at the end.
I am excited to have come so far. I am excited to spend time with such amazing people. I am SO excited to head back down south =) where perhaps more of my heart is than I realized.
Carrie is working on loading a small MP3 player with music to carry me through the lonely chillly southern part of my journey. Feelin good about that, feelin good about what's to come. As always, I'll keep you guys posted ;)
Now go enjoy the fall!
If the chill, sun, color, etc are anything where you are like they are here the only place to be is outside marinating in the awe some season =D
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.
It's opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.
THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.
You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...
...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.
I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
School starts, and suddenly you're workouts are after school instead of the morning. Suddenly you have academics on top of outdoor revelry. Every day at lunch you watch what you eat, so as not to puke it up during a ladder or running up Tinker Mountain.
Races start, the affair of frolicking through the woods becomes more serious and you are pounding tired, well tuned muscle through leaves and sun beams.
Somewhere in all of this, things change. One day, mid September you notice the trail has red and yellow leaves on it, leaves on Camelot and Tinker are bursting, and falling, with better views. Eight am race starts are cold, and you are huddled around your now best friends, holding pinkies, praying for the miles to come. There are tears, there are cramps, there is growth, there is love.
My lifelong best friends know what I'm talking about. It is hard to experience the full spectrum of summer revelry to fall splendor during college or a full time job. Unless you have the rare opportunity to be outside every day you may not be cognisant of what is going on around you.
I awoke this morning in a bed in a hayloft, upper story of a New Hampshire barn. The morning light flooding in the window I thought, why not stay, watch the day move over this town, I'll go to the woods later.
Leaves have been changing since New Hampshire. Last week, hitch hiking 100 some miles with Hasty gave me a glorious opportunity to spend time in the valleys, out of rocky summits or green tunnels. I saw patches, clumps of orange, yellow, red. As we made our way north back to my trail take off listening to Old Crow Medicine Show and other bluegrass jams, I thought I couldn't be happier.
Transition to fall is vivid on the Appalachian Trail. Although I'm now carrying heavier clothes and working with less daylight hours I'm excited to walk through and with my favorite season.
So today I've traipsed around town enjoying story time at the library, coffee and Edward Abbey from my bed, and phone catch up from a rocking chair. Tomorrow perhaps, tomorrow I will be wild again.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Photos have been posted of the past two states. I have been blessed and fortunate to travel with a beautiful fellowship of companions in Vermont and NH. Time at Anna's Vermont home was delicious, soulful, and restful. My new dear friend Low kept me smiling and laughing through hail storms, rain, mud, and many many miles of Vermont and NH up until the first shelter in the Whites. Bones has also risen to be a source of joy and relief. As it turns out the past two states and the weeks to traverse them have become a whirlwind of fellowship, miles, and wildness, so much so that I only realized a couple days ago, standing on top of the Wildcats North of Pinkham Notch, alone, for the first time in nearly a month, how far I had come. Hiking is a funny business when your mind becomes absolved in the greenery and rocks. I am nearly in Maine. I can't really tell you how that happened.
I've been thinking too much time in the woods is a lot like deep sea diving. They say once you're deep enough under water your world fades into an existence of blue, above, around, below, you no longer know which way is where. I listened to a lot of Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild, soundtrack before leaving VA. There's a song on that album that says "gonna rise up, find my direction magnetically, gonna rise up, turn mistakes into gold" I used to feel magnetized north. I don't know which way is what anymore; in a strange foreign place.
There are glimpses of this landscape that seem a strange mix of Montanan grandeur and Virginian greenery. Sometimes it is comforting; always surprising.
The White Mountains were in a word- epic. Traversing them with someone so near and dear to my heart was definitely a highlight of this trip. We had nearly perfect weather for the whole stretch- a feat unheard of in this area. Even the day we summited Mt Washington and hiked the Presidential range was sunny, warm, clear, with little to no wind. Although Hasty, Bones, and I pushed nearly 15 miles that day and didn't set up camp til 9pm, and although I had to sing myself through the last 3 miles of exposed ridge at sunset and with a headlamp not to cry from fatigue and frustration, it was in fact, one of the most glorious days on the trail yet.
It seems I'm always online with someone breathing over me to get off the computer, so , as always, I'll wrap up before I would like to. But first- a few shout outs.
Homer, Theresa, Taylor, Bennet Witcher: I think of you nearly every day. You have my utmost admiration and respect for having walked this path as a family.
Amtower Clan: Thank you so much for gifts of presence and support. I miss you and love you very much
Botetourt County School Employees (who are prob reading this bc of my Mom): Encourage your students to dream huge, beyond huge. Tell them youthful dream chasing gives you confidence and life to dream more, chase more.
Anyone who can give me a full time job with health benefits starting at the first of this year give me a shout =) Particularly one near Missoula Montana =D
Love and peace to you all.
May you find graceful wonder as you wander.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
Mark, It's so wild the time we spent together and it's been so long. I miss you, S bean, and stories of your family.
Doug, SOOOO happy you and Geronimo had a great time together! Thanks so much for keeping him.
Fischa, Thanks for keepin Moes with your boys, hope we can drink a PBR together for your birthday!
Everyone else: I love you and miss you and will write more soon, right now a Dartmouth student is P.O. ed and waiting for this computer.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Geronimo is in Virginia at my parents house. After Maggie gets moved into her new WV place near the Dolly Sods he will probably stay with her until I can have him again. That will likely be before I go to Georgia, after the Smokies, or after I finish the trail. I'm not quite sure yet. He is fattening up and his feet are healed. I miss him terribly, but he's happier there than he would be here.
Love to you all =*
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
As it turns out this trip and my life becomes wilder by the minute. I told Hasty the other day I've finally reached the point of throwing up my arms and hands and surrendering myself to the will of the universe. It feels good, but dizzying. After my first evening in Unionville with about 18 other hikers at the mayor's place I slackpacked 18 miles south to Uville and spent a second night. After talking to Angie, Butch, Dick, and Bill it seemed like the best thing for me to do was get on a train to NYC. Cap'n Jack Sparrow had missed his NJ Transit from Middletown while I slackpacked, so Friday he held my hand and showed me the ropes on our way to the city. "Is there any place I should avoid?" I asked him "Harlem" he answered with no hesitation. Upon reaching Penn Station and sifting through the subway system I emerged from underground to reggae/ latin music and not a single Caucasian person around. I studied the subway map harder... Harlem... I studied harder... W 126th St 5th Ave for the Spot Hostel.... Harlem. Sketchy I thought, and went back down to Central Park. I wandered around in the green island, transitioning from AT to NYC, and finally got brave realizing I HAD to find my bed for the night. Taxi ed for the first time. The whole trip was a madness of subways, street, central park, friends etc. Some highlights were my new friends and dorm mates from the NJ camp (gave me drinks and swiss rolls!), running into Bones and Mud Bug Sat morning in the hospital, Genevieve! an amazing photo arty bad ass that lives in Brooklyn because of her I ate Indian food and was able to stash my pack while I cruised the city, seeing Sex and the City in theatres!!!!!, Tiffany's, Alice in Wonderland Statue, A N G I E, late night Bryant Park picnic, etc etc. After a lot of wandering and little sleep I cabbed back to Penn Station to head to Middletown. I messed up the trains and found myself kickin it in Ridgewood New York for 3ish hours. I caught up on phone calls, ate more Indian food, resupplied groceries, and ate a doughnut! Eventually I made it back to my station, back to Butch, back to the mayors. I hadn't intended on taking so much time off the trail, and I'm quite a few days behind my friends, but it's nice to urban adventure and crash a little bit before getting back to the business of the trail. My burn is getting better, my hair is growing pretty quick, my legs and feet are nearly always stiff. Maine and the fall are coming... and I am forever lured North.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I've been peeing standing up since my first week on the trail.
I've lost 13 pounds.
When you hike alone you have no one to complain to.
Hanging your hammock in a shelter is not a bad idea.
Drink at least one beer nearly every chance you get.
Smile at strangers and friends often.
Being a southerner with a western flair is a glorious thing.
Hikers appreciate Opera and many other finer things in life; we are simple, but constantly seeking beauty.
When it rains the newts come out =D
I love Camp Alta Mons fiercer than words could ever tell.
Botetourt Commons folks: I think about my old life and your smiling faces and hope you're all doing incredibly well!
Alta Mons: You KNOW you are in my heart and prayers. I am sorry our lives in the woods keep us from talking more but I know soulfully we are together.
VA friends: Thanks so much for Geronimo shuffling, trail pep talks, stashing my stuff at your places, running errands for me, etc.
MT and western friends: I WANT TO SEE YOU AND THE WEST SO BAD =) We'll see how life goes after this adventure.
International and rambling nomadic buddies: I often day dream about where my travels and your travels are taking/ will take us. I am amazed at what this world puts before our feet, I hope sometime very soon to see you again with a warm embrace. (veg, you little stalker, you're gorgeous and I want to meet Anthony, and I still have my matching thigh scar from my river kisses and your bear attack... just so you know I'm not holding out pictures on you ;)
Muchos amour =*
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
The point of this post... I'm looking to see if anyone would be interested/ excited to love and live with Geronimo for awhile. I don't know if he goes south when I'll be able to get him again, it may not be until after I finish Maine between mid-sept mid-oct. I know it's summer and a lot of folks are traveling. Give me a call if you'd like to foster my best friend. 540 798 7069 He's a wonderful dog but is sensitive and needs to be in a place with soft seating and affection.
I personally and physically am doing well. It's emotionally draining, this whole PA thing, but better times lay... just around the river bend =)
Give me a ring if you're interested =)
I prob won't be able to call back right away, looks like Geronimo for this week will be a trucker with my cousin Ron while I hike.
Friday, June 20, 2008
A lot of people ask what I do all day. Seriously, I eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, sleep, repeat. I think a lot in between, sometimes sing. I try to read a chapter of Old Testament at night and New Testament in the morning, I've read a lot of books in the bible in a month and a half. I'll be honest though, I have to force myself to do it, most of the time I'd rather just be asleep.
My friends from Pen-Mar put me on the spot asking what I've learned my month in the woods- I drew a blank. I've had many miles to think about it now, so here's my answer; trail philosophy if you will
~The unknown is really not so scary if you're willing to learn it (this goes for bears, snakes, relationships, summer camp programs, etc)
~I would like a partner
~"A quarter mile" is a standard distance people tell you when they don't know how far away something is, if that's their answer, it's usually much further
~Don't add alcohol to a lit stove
~Barrington Bunny was really onto something, and I have never understood that fully until a rainy gray gypsy moth 17 mile day in PA
~Gypsy moths are probably a sign of the apocalypse, I call them gypsy hell
~My family is incredible and we don't know each other nearly well enough
~Pines really do whisper, usually they say "....montana...."
~Anyone walking on the trail for more than two nights who tells you they are not a person of faith is lying to themselves. Reading a book associating "w"s to blue blazes, mileage to white markers in unfamiliar territory down some narrow corridor believes it will get them somewhere, trusts it is true, hopes in the foretold unseen, that my friends is faith. Call God what you will, but if you'll walk this, you have faith.
~As a soul seeking strength in spirit and nature I am much more water bound than earth
~Missing folks is an understood given, I wish I would hear each loved ones voice everyday, friends I wish I could hug and laugh with, but the more I think about it, and replay people/ events/ places in my head and heart, the more I realize you've all given me exactly what I need already, I just have to search and fight to keep it near me even though you are not
~Geronimo is the best dog in the universe
~Eucatastrophe- it's worth looking up, or just ask Shakedown
~I think my phone is messed up, please try to send me lovin anyway, on gloomy days I need that smile.
For now I'm getting some sleep. I'll try and upload pics on my ZERO DAY tomorrow =D OH BABY Thank GOD for family and rest. Peace be with you, send me love, know that I send it right back atcha.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Love and miss you all! Bound and Geronimo
ps- weight count -10 pounds since Dville
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Sheri asked me the other day "Do you love it?" I had to think about it. This trip, this trail, is something I have been dreaming about since high school. It's pretty surreal to wake up everyday in the woods with strangers/ new friends and plug out somewhere between 8-13 miles. My hip bothers me, I developed some blisters on the feet, my back has irritated scars from my pack, and I burnt my rainpants/leg/foodbag etc with my stove (more on that later). It's hard to get Geronimo enough fat, seeing as he is naturally very lean and we are bother burning so many calories. Many of you have been curious "when I was expecting" and I can tell you, 134 miles of backpacking later the "baby" is G O N E. So don't ask me anymore!
Everyday I sleep in a different place. It's glorious to move through a landscape at a pace that allows you to absorb your surroundings. The views are stunning. In Montabello I found out from the Dutch Haus caretakers that the stretch of trail from Daleville to Waynesboro gives conditions NOBO ers a run for their money with Apple Orchard Mountain, The Priest, and Three Ridges all being over 4,000 feet and Jennings Creek, The James River, and the Tye River all being around 1,000 feet or lower. Poor Ben was with me for about all of that, carrying who knows how much weight in Scott's pack, his first experience backpacking. Ben is a backpacking champ, don't let anyone tell you differently.
There are so many stories to catch ya'll up on and not enough time on my library slot so for now we'll keep it concise, and fill in details later.
Do I love it? I'm starting to go a little crazy because as I walked from John Wolfe Shelter (which is awesome btw) to Waynesboro I came up with something in my head. There are about 5 places I would want/ choose to be right now. They are, in no particular order: The Appalachian Trail, Camp Alta Mons, Missoula, MT , anywhere with Dacia dizzle, or in the arms of another half hearted fanatic. All of these places I've been before, I feel certain that I will be at all of the them again. Before I left for the AT this March I read Ecclesiastes, for everything there is a time under heaven. I broke it down and prayed over each " a time to blank, a time to blank" one per day. And that's the way it goes, you know? There is a time for everything. For me, for now, I am pulled, magnetically to the AT north to Maine. It is my time for that. Do I think of being other places, sure. Do I love it, yes. And right now, right here, is right where I need to be =)
Love to everyone. I miss you all!!
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Some time later I received a letter (which rarely happened via snail mail at that time in my life). The envelope had my handwriting, and I was pretty confused about the whole thing. I opened it, and pulled out the seal paper. "Be inspiring to people" was staring back at me. It changed my life.
I find a lot of value in other's life insight/ philosophy/ and musings. At the end of every summer at Camp Alta Mons Bob Giesy would read the summer staff this poem:
Bits and Pieces
Bits and pieces, bits and pieces. People. People important to you, People unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and move on. There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why you ever came into contact with them. There are people who leave you, and you breathe a sigh of remorse and wonder why they had to go and leave such a gaping hole. Children leave parents, friends leave friends. Acquaintances move on. People change homes. People grow apart. Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on. You think of the many people who have moved in and out of your hazy memory. You look at those present and wonder. I believe in god's master plan in lives. He moves people in and out of each other's lives, and each leaves his mark on the other. You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who have ever touched your life. You are more because of them, and would be less if they had not touched you. Pray that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder, and never question and never regrets. Bit's and pieces, bits and pieces.-Anonymous
I believe that I am made up of bits and pieces of people, experiences, thoughts, that have crossed my path. SO in an attempt to shed light on the perpetual "why would you want to walk over two thousand miles and live in the woods for months?" here are musing, quotes, near and dear to my being. I hope you find them inspiring.
Found when working on a school project for 11th grade history/English class.
“You can’t count a river while it moves by you. The best thing to do is take off all your clothes and go swimming in it, then when you feel the water all around you you’re part of the total river. Where it’s been, where it is, where it’s going, Plunge In!”
Henry David Thoreau
Explained to me by Dietz in 11th grade, hung on my walls since. "Montani Semper Liberi" West Virginia State Motto, translation "A mountaineer is always free"
Found when researching what to put on girls XC team shirts, 12th grade.
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there's some mistake. The only other sound's the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost, Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening
Was introduced to Service by my 12th grade/freshman in college love who was very active in scouting and the OA.
Have you suffered, starved and triumphed,groveled down, yet grasped at glory,Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?"Done things" just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?Have you seen God in His splendors,heard the text that nature renders?(You'll never hear it in the family pew).The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things --Then listen to the Wild -- it’s calling you.
They have cradled you in custom,they have primed you with their preaching,They have soaked you in convention through and through;They have put you in a showcase; you're a credit to their teaching --But can't you hear the Wild? -- it’s calling you.Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us; Let us journey to a lonely land I know.There’s a whisper on the night-wind,there’s a star agleam to guide us,And the Wild is calling, calling. . .let us go.
Letter with High School Graduation gift.
"On the bottom of the box is a compass. This is so you will be able to find your way home. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you'll always have friends and family who will love you no matter what, and the compass will help you to find your friends and family should you ever lose them. Or if you're going hiking one day and you just really really need a compass, you can take it off of the bottom."
Found sophomore year of college in course text, reinforced by Dr.Scott. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul."
Found online, reinforced by Hasty. Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.Edward Abbey, from a speech first gave to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana in 1978, and in Colorado which was published in High Country News in the 1970s or early 1980s under the title "Joy, Shipmates, Joy."
Found during college course work, read at my Environmental Studies Graduation Ceremony.
"Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you --- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Part of a letter I received on my 23 birthday. "I think you have that gift of being able to see into people's souls, and I always worried you might see the twenty-two year old Ralph in there and the things he was all about...... All the Ralphs are still alive and well: The 12-year-old Ralph who loved hearing that new song or buying a new record; the 15-year-old Ralph who loved sitting by a lake and listening to the water; the twenty-year old Ralph who discovered that so many unique and beautiful things exist out there beyond the camera lens and how much he wanted to capture them all so they would never be lost; the twenty-two year old Ralph that (well--he was the wild one); and on and on they go....... little pieces of the whole that build a whole life. The ups and downs, the loves and lost loves, the laughter and tears they all go together to make days that make weeks that make months that make years that are like bricks that build our lives.Keep building -- you never know what it might look like in the end, but I think it will be something beautiful." Ralph Bratton
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
So I've been thinking about all the little bits that make a whole, and how surprising it all is. I spent a lot of mental and emotional energy senior year of college trying to figure out what to do with my life. My decision to leave Montana for Virginia was rooted in a fulfilling job at Alta Mons for the summer, and supported with dreams of reconnecting with old loves; friends, family that hadn't been part of my daily life for three years. I wanted to cheer for my little brother at Cross Country meets, eat dinner with Cindy, run with Carrie and Susanna.
What I anticipated would be 6 months, a year, has turned into two. I have transitioned from summer staff to board of directors at Alta Mons. I have been to Brazil and back. I have rented and paid bills on my own, without a college loan refund check. I have watched a heart-bound genuine community rise out of loneliness and isolation. I have pulled 40 hour weeks and helped countless people in the store.
Every time I take more of life in Raleigh Court apart in preparation for the trail I think about memories from these years. Shooting for the Fincastle Herald, paddling with camp buddies, moving couches with Susanna, painting by headlamp, screwing orange and yellow wire caps to my dining room fan outlet, Erwin TN, road trip to Kristin's wedding, eating chocolate with Mark.
So here we are, gettin ready to uproot again and journey off, back in the saddle, and I'm singing a little
Monday, March 31, 2008
Annual Bad Ass Mama Jama Bike across Botetourt
Christmas Break 2006 rolled around and we both had full time jobs; Carrie on the peds floor of UVA hospital, me the Assistant Manager of Outdoor Trails Daleville. The bike ride was pushed back some, it ended up being some random day in January, but once again we hopped on our bikes and headed out. That year we rambled around Old Breckenridge Mill Road, Springwood Road (right about the time James River High School dismissed), Lithia "Lithuania" Road and back Blacksburg towards home. It was about 10 miles further than the year before and created a serious ache between our legs.
2007- A year into "being adults" we found it very hard to sync our schedules to go on our day long adventure. With my thru hike looming and spring pouncing upon us we finally pulled it together in March.
The route: Rie's parents-Fincaslte. 220-Eagle Rock. ER to Buchanan via Rte 43.
PAUSE THERE. Somewhere on 43 we found inspiration to veer on a dirt road through mountains, vineyards, and "Farm Use" vehicles to the Blue Ridge Vineyard. A wine tasting, feast, bottle of Pinot Noir, and life stories with former high school teachers later, we re-mounted.
James River H.S. to Springwood put in. River, donkey, Hasty house, my fav fields, we had HAD IT. The sun was sinking, just in time for Big Al to pull up in the red truck and bring us on home for Ginny's amazing tortellini, spinach, and Adam's fighta girlfriend's chocolate cake.
Deemed- best BAMJBAB YET =)