Dirt. Dirty. Filthy dirty.
I hadn’t been without a shower for 4 days since maybe…ever. Now it’s a regular occurrence.
I loved getting dirty. I felt young again. I didn’t care what anyone thought. I didn’t care who saw me. I just plain didn’t care about anything but hiking. Hiking the Appalachian Trail.
I was told to hike the 40 miles of the trail in Maryland and then decide whether I wanted to be a serious backpacker. I took my then hiker friend Linda’s advice. It was the best thing I had done for myself in decades. I loved it.
I loved the sweat. I loved the alone time. I loved the planning. I loved pushing myself. I loved eating whatever I wanted to. I loved being in my tent at night. I loved cooking my meals. I loved treating my water. I loved reaching the top of a mountain. Mostly, I loved the people.
Couples out for day hikes. Young people on the trail from Washington DC. Families. Infants in backpacks. Seniors with carved walking sticks. Everyone happy.
We are all our best selves up there. I truly believe that. If the rest of the world behaved like AT hikers, well, that would really be something. Maybe I like things just like they are. It makes my time on the AT even more special.
I could go on. I could tell you stories. All kinds of stories. Laughing hysterically stories. Crying as I hike stories. Frightening stories. Bears. Rattle snakes. Water fall stories. Just plain falling down stories. On my face twice! Singing Christmas carols to try and get cool on 98 degree days. Cooking soup every two hours during the night to stay warm stories.
They would mostly be stories about people. New friends from all over the world stories. Stories told over dinner at a shelter with a group of strangers who have become my brothers and sisters seamlessly. Hiking with my daughter, Jennie, stories.
Hiking with my trail daughter, Kelly stories.
Camping with my old friends.
Hiking with my new friends!
Stories. Got a little, a lot carried away there. I’m feeling good.
Monday, I’m going back to the trail after 3 months off. It will be my first time out with my new hip. That’s why I’m so excited tonight. That’s why I got carried away with all that “story” stuff. (I love when thoughts are just flying from my head to my phone keyboard like that.)
I will hike about .6 of a mile, from Fox Gap to the Kirkridge Shelter, and camp. I will carry everything in and everything out. I will leave no trace. I will love every step. Steps I’ve done 4 or 5 times before. It doesn’t matter where this time. I just need to be there.
It will be really cold. So what?
I have 965 miles of the Appalachian Trail finished. This .6 will not add to my total. That’s not the point. The point is I will be on my way. On my way back to finishing the rest of Appalachian Trail.
I have finished this epic path from Southern Virginia to Massachusetts.
I will now finish the rest of the 2,185 miles.