Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Words and Voice

As a recent college graduate, I stumbled across Proverbs 6 "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man." Tinker creek gurgled, the mountains beckoned me, so I started saving pennies, acquiring gear, and laying the foundation of a 2175 mile traverse of the Appalachian Trail. Less than two years later Carrie and Al took me on a shake down trip to the Dolly Sods. Operation - explore wild and wonderful West Virginia, and tweak my pack before walking out of Daleville to Maine. Carrie and I lay in my tent, she asked me how I felt. I read her Joshua 1 "Be strong and very courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you ... 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." A couple weeks later, I was walking. I carried my Bible (the only book I deemed worth reading) and my journal. And I prayed, a lot. In the morning I would read Psalms - a thankful heart to arise and greet a new day of this beautiful, trying life. At lunch I would read the New Testament - hope and conviction as I trekked. And before bed I would read Old Testament - great stories of times long gone, and lessons to glean from these ancient ancestors. Usually - I would write my own stories at night... but any time of day was fair game for that. Structure within a very unstructured life. Generally, there were two songs in my head - "Be Thou My Vision" and "If You Could Read My Mind". Both a little sad and slow - but lovely. I dreamt of milkshakes, a beautiful frustrating boy I loved, Montana, and whatever those near and dear to me might be doing - in a world that felt very far away from mine. A few of the aforementioned - were available an unearthly amount to support more than they know. And one - Geronimo - was there for everything. Looking out for me, listening to me, eating with me, resting with me, singing with me. Until he couldn't hike beside me. So I carried on northward. Devastated and convicted. Somewhere in New England I forfeited myself to the hike. The rain, the bugs, the sweat, the tears, the laughter, and songs. I traded my structure for fluidity, a current to carry me through the boreal forests of the North Country, and spit me out in Georgia - sick, and alone. The only natural thing to do being - break down. It was there in the familiar, chilly, dark, solitary South that I found Jeremiah 31 "Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; for when Israel sought for rest, the Lord always appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." So gracefully, I moved forward again, until snow sent me inside for the winter. What a dark churning winter. With some sporadic side work, free lodging, many Emails from India, and time with my sister in Esther, a still small light calmed my heart and whispered to my dreams. And I thought about redeemers, and friendship, and wilderness roads. Come April - thankful for the funds and at least half the heart to return to my walkabout, I set out. To find snow, and my one Christian fellow. To talk of easter and creation. To learn tree names. Before I knew it, the circle was complete, rubber met the road, and I was back in Montana after weeks of sparse journaling and even sparser reading. Once settled into the Glacier Institute I reflected - on the movement, the story, the Word which pulled me through. It is a hard thing - living by the Word. In a world of trials and distractions - all so often I fall short of understanding what it is God wants to speak to my heart. Lately, I return to a much loved Psalm - 139. "I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." And with a nearly hushed prayer I long for a lamp unto my path, a way to move forward in this life honoring and glorifying this multifaceted creator. Often, I feel alone. Torn between the creation I love, and people I love who understand that. And a Creator I love, and those I love whom understand him. It is not an easy road we are called to walk. Yet no less full of blessing. John 5, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." These days, rising and sleeping, I pray to see that light. A light, a path, whatever thing this heart has been fearfully and wonderfully made to pursue. Looking to my side while I cover up with a hymn book I glimpse Luke, and nervously turn to a different page. "Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on... do not seek what you are to eat or drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead seek his kingdom, and these things will be added unto you." Allelu Allelu jah

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed." Which one is going hungry?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just Breathe

We had a lot to talk about. I knew that... kind of ... but as I headed up a little known path after a prayer and a peach in my favorite sanctuary... my heart broke. The soft detritus ground beneath my nearly bare feet, that spongy bounce. The drizzle and damp leaves glistening the woods. The quiet babble of a brook I've shared so many secrets with. Brought my hard walls crashing down - and with more transparency and honesty than I understood, my mouth said - I'm sorry, I've always loved you, and never meant to leave you, I just don't know how to be in each others lives right now. After a long rainy walk, and a very long conversation I knew who I was talking to - but it felt so interlaced with a place I know backwards and forwards, the love of my life. And it got me thinking... about earthly and... not so earthly loves. Or love in general. We used to read campers "The Giving Tree". What a fantastic story. From the time I was a 2nd grade camper, to my last year on staff... that bittersweet selfless love story moves my heart. I replayed all the stages between the tree and the boy, and how and when to help in each, and when you really really think about it - the type of love that took everything from the tree, was always what the boy needed. I wish my heart could give like that. It will never cease to amaze me what life's twists and turns do to love. And I think about my savior, who taught me to love, and that tree. What beautiful examples. This weekend I roamed the wilds of North Carolina's tallest mountains. Balsam Firs trigger my heart stings, and I walk, and sort. Tonight, I broke, and I'm not really sure where my heart is... in this earth... only that it's tearful hopeful pieces are in the hands of a savior who knows what to do with them. And one thing keeps quietly repeating inside me - just breathe. Be it blurry - I look forward. Eyes open at the sunset, eager for a fresh day tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Life is a wild ride of elation and tears. Maybe I ask for it to be, in a sense. Regardless of whether it's sought on not - last week ran the gamut of emotional range. Everything happens and changes - so fast sometimes. Or not quick enough. Which leaves me thankful... God's timing is perfect. Because history has proven - my idea of perfect timing is pretty screwed up. Anyway- the point is, I've been needing nature. So I bust my butt at the coffee shop, and gear shop... run to 24 hours of reboot in the Grayson Highlands... bust it again for a couple days... and flow into one of the most beautiful river trips of the summer. Meanwhile, life is happening. I'm leaving the full time job I've had for the past year, returning to an old love of a job - and still very much sorting through where to live and for how long. This crazy beautiful thing happened the past few days. I started slip sliding down into a sad, dark, lonely place... reevaluating relationship, etc. And with steadfast quiet strength so much love came out of the woodwork. A long Fincastle walk with Dacia and Maya. A slumber party with Hillary. A starry eyed porch-sitting dawn with Bones. Scheming adventures with Elaine. A day recap with Sarah. And I'm starting to realize... maybe these days, and these years aren't so much spinning my wheels or restarting... maybe they're just a long eddy out to read what comes next. Maybe I'm not in the place right now to dig in and paddle hard into unknown rapids. Perhaps with the years and scars I've learned - when to plunge in, and when to scout it out. Crossing eddy lines, staying in the calm, and deliberate finessed strokes when the time is right... now that is something to be proud of.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Really into this right now.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gotta Have More Grayson!

My knees can't decide if they're in pain, locked in a double back position, or just entirely overused. Either way - I have hiker hobbles like I nearly forgot existed. It's kind of like... I crushed the miles between Glencliff to Gorham, crashed on the northern and and am now trying to climb the stairs of The Barn hostel... if things aren't looser by tomorrow I may have to sit and scooch around on stairs. Yeip. All that to say - I just spent 24 face melt, heart grappling hours in the Grayson Highlands. Geronimo is sacked out in bed too. I just kept thinking - over and over - "Virginia, you never get old" to which I had to shake because... well... The Old Dominion is... O L D. But seriously - seas of blue ridges unfurling as far as the eye can see, wildflowers, windswept evergreens and lush mossy primeval summits, how could you get enough? Ironic... my ten year high school reunion is quickly approaching. And I find myself replaying so many moments down in Southwestern Virginia. The rock climbing trips with E&H outdoor club, the photo excursion with that guy who... maybe thought it was a date? I found this nook of the state needing to be near the AT, wanting to be near my love. And ten years later - after a through hike of the entire Appalachian Trail Geronimo is my sole steadfast hiking partner, and my once love is engaged to a beautiful dental hygienist, living in Calgary Alberta. C'est la vie. So my mind wanders to other Highland times- Carrie running across Whitetop Mountain. Luke sorting out our map. And Hasty, with the blueberries on Pine Mountain. So rich. Dappled with joy and bittersweet heartstrings much like the Highlands themselves. Yet somehow - in the elation and trials I am so enamored and thankful for this landscape. To have a wild space to perch on a rock, overlooking Virginia, North Carolina, (Tennessee?) wind blowing my hair into it's best pony mane imitation. Birds. Sunrise pink clouds. It's a little disturbing... the happy familiarity a long distance hiker has with the stench of sweaty synthetic clothes. Three hours in I am overwhelmed by all the scents of my old world - saturated dirt, cool rocks, evergreens, stinky hiker. "Wish I could bottle that," before I reconsidered.... would I REALLY burn it as a candle... yeah. I probably would. Unfortunately dreams have their waking, and busting my butt to churn out miles and get to work on time overtook my body. The hiking was quick, but not unpained. I am not too proud to admit I fell... (only once though!) And despite heavy reliance on my poles and arms... my knees are currently on strike. So tonight I lay me down to sleep. Visions of Grayson swirling 'round my head. I hope that baby mohawked pony makes an appearance in my dreams. I hope one day - you can be lucky enough, to know exactly where I'm at, riiiight now. God Bless the Grayson Highlands.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Light strikes a deal with each coming night"

A silvery mist descends on rolling hills. Enveloped by steady drizzle, clouds, and dusk - there is little to do besides light a candle, listen to strings, and dream. So many of these days spent on the other side of glass- by profession or pleasure, draws a strange stirring in my heart for life in the woods. Humidity of climate, rain drops on my lips, the warmth of wool and down. We used to do this evening meeting with campers, going around in a circle sharing an answer to one question before bed. My favorite was "if you were any type of weather, what would you be?". As the light drains from the Blue Ridge, and layers of landscape deepen in matted finish, I can tell you, tonight, I would be this.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Colossians 2

Obama recently told a city street full of my hometown that if you were successful - you didn't make it to where you are today by yourself. I've seen / heard more than I would like to about campaigning and who's delivering the most deceiving campaign platform this presidential go-round. Four years ago, when all of this was happening, I was traversing the New England woods. And as Obama's votes came in, and cracked walnuts sat on the stoop of an Emory & Henry porch, we rejoiced in hope, and change, and the bright sunrise of a new season. Tonight Geronimo and I are in a cozy bedroom as crickets buzz and thunder rumbles through damp Appalachian night. We breathe deep, and Iron and Wine starts picking and pulsing. When I was in Maine I felt so far from this place. Preparing for the southern leg of my Appalachian Trail traverse, I anticipated lonely days and quiet woods. Insert - a little help from my friends. I ordered a cheap, light, sansa MP3 player, had it shipped to one of my very best friends - Carrie - and asked her to load it full of music and forward it south. The responsibility of DJ ing some of my toughest times on the AT was no small task - which Carrie took to heart greatly. (Carrie is remarkably / unhumanly thoughtful) So as the sun shone in Georgia, Ben Lee sang me forward. When I was sick and internally wrestling the future of my traverse, Damien Rice plucked my heart strings beside the Nantahala River. And as the cold,late-fall winds swept far southwestern Virginia, Iron & Wine whispered through bare branches and snowflakes. So it's August, four years later, and Southern Anthem soothes a tired mind. The thunder is a distant quiet one. And I think of Carrie, and the kind of love and thoughtfulness that binds a fellowship together. A love to make warm on cold windy walks, and shed light in blurry dark moments. "When that southern anthem rings It will lay her burdens down" The opportunity to be truly known and loved by another creature feels rare and raw most times. I am extremely blessed to have a handful for such long-term, deeply intimate fellowships. Jeremiah Johnson texts me begging for a hitch from an Oregon roadside near the PCT, and Michelle teases me about birthing babies from her nursing program in Washington, and Hillary vents from a lake cabin in northwest Montana, and Sarah counsels from her new home in California, and I think about my favorite Batman, Spencer. And Geronimo snores. My eyes are heavy, and I am not alone. So we sleep to another night of destination unknown, wilderness road - not walked alone. With bright eyes and sunshine towards the hope and change of a season to come. Oh thank God for that thunder, these guitars, and fellowship to dance in darkness. Lord knows I can't get anywhere by myself, nor would I want to.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Night Run

Moon shine and night dew soak my tired skin Geronimo prances along the creek Knotted hair from river swims, sleeping in, and coffee grinding Bon Iver droning into the night Feet pound, quicken, with distant headlights To the woods, in and out of shadows Alert, alive, intoxicated

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Yesterday- I got extreme. Well... let's backtrack a little. This summer has been a major decompress / reevaluate time. (Yes, if you've been following this blog for awhile you'll nod your head thinking, yep, another one of THOSE. Unapologetically - I've become seasonal.) So I left the city, and found trail running and country road cycling again : insert heart happiness. I got my older sister married... no small or easy task considering her thoughtful evaluative nature. Living in our childhood home, helping each other, sharing life together for the first time in 5 years- was epic. Because our personalities and lives are so different she makes few appearances in this blog... but you can find her story here : . (Remarkable Woman) Anyway, sharing time with her, bouncing ideas around about nature, nurture, past, present, and future, was much needed in my decompress/ reevaluate process. Then, there's Outdoor Trails and my extended Botetourt - based friend family. Always uplifting and grounding. In the midst of all this is snippets of vacation - long walks along the water line of America, sun-dappled mornings through a yurt dome sky light, sipping coffee in the Confederate Capitol, and many, many hours in the middle of some great, moving, shifting waterway. Suffice to say, it's all helped me return to the basic fundamentals of being fearfully and wonderfully made. Which has made me reconsider the things I fill my life with, and the things I'd like to fill my life with. I've spent a lot of time thinking about long distance, self propelled travel - and what makes it revolutionarily great in this day and age. At it's heart (and these journeys abound in heart) is its genuineness. All my guide / planning books for the Continental Divide Trail say repeatedly - thru hiking will ruin your life. Which they mean ironically of course - because long-distance self-propelled travel not so much RUINS your life - but it distorts your values, morals, boundaries, and necessities. Probably for life. And these past few weeks, Im feeling less guilty about that than usual. I find myself unashamedly embracing the Vitamin D soaked, dynamic, joyful, adapt, improvise, and flow along lifestyle. Now - let's discuss social media. Bones and I had a charming conversation about the rigamarole bouncing around about the NECESSITY of social media. I've been toying around with having a more obscure online presence for awhile now. Wikipedia defines social media as including "web- and mobile-based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals." But what I started noticing on the two networking sites I was on was the amount of quality friend catch up time initiated and supported by these sites was a SMALL fraction of how these sites were actually affecting me. I felt superficially accessible to relationships which likely would peruse my life, with opinion and conversation, but no engagement. Beyond the social media phenomenon I'm realizing I have little desire for superficial skimming of my life facts without engaging conversation regarding the heart of matters. Maybe I've spent so much time in retail lately I've outtalked myself. But regardless - I'm after a certain sort of connection, and not inspired to maintain less than that. SO. After a moonlight soaked mountain drive from east central Virginia back to the mountains of the southwest nook of the Old Dominion, I deactivated both social networking accounts. Which leaves me a little curious what everyone is up to - but feeling free and unencumbered to live my life present and share it discretionally. If you've come to this blog as a friend (old or new), looking to keep up with my life, welcome! send me a message! I'm going to test out the old school forms of communication - you know, Emails, phone calls... anything more archaic than that is appreciated to. And one final moonlit inspiration. One of my greatest heros was a nomadic, unmarried, with no children, jobless, wilderness wandering, house free-loading kind of soul. Jesus Christ. I love that guy. AND it blows my mind why my priorities and necessities continue to perplex a community of believers I would like to be part of, but feel so alienated amidst. Oh well. Moving forward - honestly and with my thru hike ruined life. Gracefully, Bound

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Combat Rolls

Today is Low's birthday. So Geronimo and I sit on a dark Virginian wrap-around porch, the second day of summer, surrounded by lightening bugs and frog songs, listening to the entire Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac. Researching our next chapter. This spring, while in Colorado with Spencer, I had the pleasure of running into my best Environmental Studies buddy. Anna. Anna from Cambridge and Vermont, who daily shot pure maple syrup. Beautiful Anna was wrapping up her Public Policy and Health MS from Colorado State and beamed as she told of world travel plans. Different continents for each season in the upcoming year... I'll say she's mastering something... a different sort of health. And I've been SO excited for her adventures... to see what they will bring. But I found an insight of a different sort a few days ago from Anna, in the form of an F Scott Fitzgerald quote... "And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” So I go deeper down the rabbit hole. Perfectly content to find one open window to crawl through, into the next chapter. Reaching into the dark for the same vigor and strength that took a heartbroken 18 year old girl to Montana. Afterall,it doesn't much matter which way you go... you're sure to get somewhere if you only walk long enough. So says the Cheshire Cat to Alice. I've been overcome by water lately. Paddling. Fishing. Watching. Praying. Spencer tries to coax a roll out of me and in the midst of "getting over the doubt in my eyes" I remember finesse. That finely lucid grip of guiding and understanding. Where what I want, and what the river wants are the same. And we dance. Fluidity. In the meantime... I've vowed to spend this time, these days, as if they were the last. A last adventure, a last conversation, a last Virginian summer dusk to watch lightening bugs rise out of the grass. And love every beautiful, fluid, unknown moment of it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring. We are warming and warming here with temperate sunny days punctuated by chilled rains. Rivers are full enough, that vitamin D is rocking my world, and I may just be taking full advantage of the lack of work hours I've been scheduled for. Last week I snuck away to the Rockies for a whirlwind trip driving a best friend east to a Virginia return. Ahhhh the open road. Springer fever? New seasons? Wonder. Move. Breathe. It's almost like coming out of hibernation. And although this season is not void of its own challenges - as a whole the world feels warmer, brighter, and vibrant. Scheming and dreaming are inevitable and perhaps more epic stories - just around the river bend.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

the birds are quiet

when the sky is dark
creaks and strains float through my window
of heavy metal grinding steel rails
a muffled whistle of man made transportation
quietened by ever growing spring leaves

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Although this winter has been mild and mostly snowless, I found myself hibernating in a sense. Digging in those heels to hunker down into a survivor mentality of a "what must be done" focus.
I find investment levels to be high, with small daily triumphs but little over-arching payback.
And ready or not, the trees wake up.
The past two weeks have afforded me multiple epic walks - on mountain ridges, through city alleyways - with family and dear friends.
Somewhere in the steady pace of genuine fellowship while new petal blossoms rain around us I feel a new season approaching - around me and in me.
So much anxiety from this fall as winter approached is melting away while my little nook of the planet warms.
And I am grateful - for a dynamic life, the blessing of landing on my feet, and fresh opportunities.
Spring always surprises me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

even ing

In a busy life of work, class, and chasing much coveted sleep I find rare moments to recharge. The past week I've squeaked out quite a few saunters in quiet non-societal pastures and woodlands.
The day-night transition is vibrant, the moon nearly full, and I surrender worry - stress - questions. With the simple free exhale of a day's close.
In these moments I feel at home -hands in anatomical position brushing tall grass or pines - fully present - heart happy.
In this space my thoughts sometimes linger to past chapters - companions who shared freedom and landscapes with me - who know me in this way.
Fearfully and wonderfully made to rejoice in the quiet grandeur of the wild. In the stillness of a calm home.

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 26, 2011 6pm I81 S

light melts into the horizon
silhouettes stand stark against dusky hues

we find sharper truth with poignant illumination

middle ground swirls around rooted steadfastness
a symbiotic existence - against the odds

we find deeper beauty with coexisting conflict

pierced in the dusk
a dynamic transience of light and shifting shadow

I am happily at home

a crepuscular creature
curious with sensory and motion and stillness

left only to thankfulness

Saturday, February 11, 2012

North Country Girl

Hiking through the rugged White Mountains of New Hampshire afforded me many life lessons / experiences. Dense coniferous forests, mosses, carnivorous plants, rugged rocky ridges - defying treeline, cloud mist, and many other weather phenomenon. They had been highly touted amongst my friends who marinated in their enchantment previously - but it wasn't until being engulfed - and perhaps looking back - that I wrap my head around them.
At street crossing you'll find interpretive signs - explanations of plant and animal species of these great northern forests. Somewhat reminiscent for me of Montana. Strange eerie not exactly silence to walk through - a boreal forest. Wind is tangible, palpable whisping needles sil nylon. I came to listen to it - allow the enchantment to pull me deeper and further north.
Not that I enjoyed every moment of my time with Boreas - he was at times too loud, too forceful, too unrelenting - but for the most part he allowed myself and travel companions safe and euphoric traveling through these enchanting forests.
There are few times I've been with him since. Occasionally on a no so quiet night in Montana, or a treed summit in Virginia, or tonight.
Tonight for nearly the first time this winter I find my life and nature aligning. I walk outside with a down blanket wrapped around me, stars gleaming.
And I exhale.
Brushing my lips, caressing my hair, drawing my heart forward in my chest.
Alluring. Cleansing. Strange and wild comfort.
Tell me soft secrets on your silent roaring winds. That you and I, remember each other as fair and lovely.
Boreassssss I whisper back.
And return indoors to the fire.