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