In mid November of last year, I was on an overnight hike on the Appalachian Trail, with my high school friend John. We were on our way to meet another old friend, Gates, later that day.
I had just made the decision to Section Hike the entire Trail. My 4 day walk of the state of Maryland had left me in a state of “hiker high.”
We came upon a young woman in need of water. It had been a very dry Fall. John gave her half of his water bottle, I kept mine, not knowing how much I would need in the next two days. Looking back, I’m really glad I was so stingy. Not because I needed the water, but because it resulted in my friendship with Sleeping Beauty.
I felt so bad for not sharing my water with her or one of the Snickers Bars I had, that I searched the Internet and found her to apologize.
It’s a long story from there. If you’re interested, see my November 23rd blog entry.
Suffice it to say, she has been a huge reason that I have purpose again in my life.
I was a teacher and coach for 33 years. Since my retirement, 10 years ago, I have loved not working, but had no real goal ahead of me, except just trying to stay healthy.
Now I hike. I’ve completed 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Tomorrow, I will be meeting my friend Kelly, aka., Sleeping Beauty in Greenwood Lake, New York. She is finishing her thru -hike there! She will have walked the entire 2,192 miles! A tremendous accomplishment. Less than 1/4 of the hikers that start a thru-hike, actually finish. She did. I’m invited to the celebration. 😊
I had hoped to walk some of NY with her, but an injury and the jet lag from my recent return from Cape Town, has me unable.
I have spent part of each of my last 20 years in South Africa, after meeting my best friend Yolande there, and marrying her two years later. 😊 (What a life I have!)
Kelly is also from SA. Pietermaritzburg actually. I recognized her accent that first meeting on the Trail.
It’s now 4:07 AM. 10:07 in South Africa which is why I’m awake.
Tomorrow sometime, I will be driving up to Greenwood Lake to treat Sleeping Beauty to some real food and to give her a ride, either to meet a cousin in New York, or to another city to catch a bus home.
She thinks I’m being kind. Kindness has a little to do with it, but it’s the Trail Magic high that is propelling me. I get to help a fellow hiker! She gets some food and a ride, and I get a charge of gratitude for all that she and others like her, have done for me. For all that the Appalachian Trail has done for me.
On my 66th Birthday, Kelly sent me a video from the Trail if her singing Happy Birthday, both in English and Afrikaans! Through a big smile I told her that I would learn the Afrikaans version before her next Birthday, and sing it to her.
Yolande wrote it out for me and I practiced. And practiced. And practiced. And sent Kelly a birthday video, with me singing both versions, too. It’s the most Afrikaans I’ve learned in 20 years!
On this visit to Cape Town, I sang it to my father in law, Uwe. You should have seen his face! 😀 I ended up singing it to 3 other family members! Now whenever there’s a Birthday down there, they point at me!
I love it.
That’s just one of the gifts my friend Sleeping Beauty and the Appalachian Trail has given to me. There have been so many. There will be more. The supply of Magic that the AT is carrying is endless.
This year, during my 3 month stay in Cape Town, I fell into the first depression of my 21 years of sobriety. I couldn’t get out of bed. I thought my Thyroid meds were off. Nope. It was the loss I experienced after leaving the Trail. All that beautiful scenery, beautiful experiences, and heavy exercise was bathing my brain in endorphins. The dip had me not feeling right, for about 2 weeks.
I bought a new pack, and began hiking up and down the San Francisco like streets of Cape Town, finishing with a healthy smoothie reward. Fixed me.
Tomorrow I will get another blast. I’ll be back at the White Blazes. I’ll be listening to my friend’s AT stories. AT stories are the best. I will be better than Ok again.
I have never done anything like this after two days of returning from SA. Usually, I just sleep!
No time for sleep. I have to go to Greenwood Lake! Sleeping Beauty needs a ride. 😀😀😀
I’ll let you know how it goes…
(Sleeping Beauty crossing the Hudson River, 2 days from finishing her thru hike in Greenwood Lake, NY.)