My favorite time in high school was Cross Country season. Coach Wertz' practiced introduced me to the Appalachian Trail and much of Botetourt County that I have since become enamoured with while traversing the landscape via foot. I think the best part, for me, was the transition and camaraderie. Somehow a group of 20 some teenagers started running in late August. It is a season of sticky thick heat, sweat, sun, swelling storms, and groaning through "base miles". It is a season of learning your teammates, encouraging each other to not look over their shoulder, to attack the next hill, to get over their summer fling, to hurry up and read the cliff notes from all the books they didn't read over the summer.
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.