Tuesday, October 14, 2008
You Gotsta What You Gotsta
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.