Five hundred miles have now been traveled on these feet of mine. They have suffered numerous stubbed toes on trail-covering tree roots resembling gnarled arthritic hands. Early blisters have evolved into protective callouses. Mosquitoes have apparently organized mass attacks on exhausted hikers, even biting through clothes! You hide out in your tent, kill the four that follow you in, and listen to the hum of the hundreds swarming your tent and landing on the screen, itching to get inside. The days can be steamy, and water is growing scarce with the lack of rain, both a blessing and a curse to a hiker. Bugs, heat, exhaustion, and a scratch or two are the daily norm.
So why is it worth it? A lifetime is nothing but a series of moments, and every single moment out here, the good and the bad, has a purpose. The rainy and sweltering days teach a deeper appreciation for the sunny days when the afternoon high is 78 degrees in mid-July and the evenings are the kind of pleasantly chilly night that has always enticed me to leave my windows open at home. My “trail legs” have developed strength and abilities to carry me farther than ever before and make a 20-mile day feel easy. I have come face to face with a juvenile bear five feet away from me, watched a flock of mama turkeys herd their poults across the trail, chirping their displeasure at my interruption, and stepped over hundreds of cool little orange salamanders who are often out and active after a good rain. I have met people from all walks of life with unique stories to tell. I have learned something from each of them, learned some things from my own experience, but learned mostly from mistakes made along the way. Kind of a metaphor for life.
Peaceful walks have included miles on the trail along rivers with swimming holes on a hot day and streams that end with a postcard worthy waterfall. Walks paused by the luxury of serene hours spent on the bank of a glassy clear mountain lake watching the sunset paint the sky behind the mountains and regular foot soakings in cold mountain springs…nature’s pedicure! Miles of constant ridgeline walks have provided stunning views of our world as never really seen before. So many times it’s a reminder of how small we really are in this universe. The largest lakes and fields look infinitesimal when viewing such an expansive canvas from the ledge of a mountain.
One of the top ten days of my life was the recent perfect day walking across Mt. Race and tackling the most difficult terrain I’ve experienced to find golden silence and quiet peace on top of the world. The physical challenge involved in this journey is incredible and rewarding. After a brutal climb, it’s awesome to realize just what these bodies of ours are capable of achieving! Sometimes the trail even offers rewards of fresh, ripe raspberries or blueberries dotted along its ridge or an unbelievable view that will take one’s breath away!
Not every moment out here is sunshine and butterflies, though both are plentiful. The trail can be harsh. The moments gaining understanding of happiness, perseverance, and that less really can be more are growing deeper within me everyday.
Note: I recorded a couple of videos so that I could take some of you along with me and share the beauty of that moment
Follow my journey on youtube!