The Appalachian Trail is only something that has recently entered my subconscious mind. I’d heard people mention it but never really gave it another thought because I was unaware of it’s significance. One day while we hiking our favorite trail, my husband told me about this couple he knew of when we were in our 20’s (friends of a friend) who were going to take several months off to hike the Appalachian Trail right after they got married. They’d spent months planning, preparing, buying gear and taking practice hikes. Four months before their wedding, the groom dumped the bride and the hike was cancelled.
Curious about the significance of the Appalachian Trail I decided to look for a book. I downloaded a book onto my nook entitled “Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on The Appalachian Trail” by Paul V. Stutzman. The author of this book tells the story of how he lost his wife to cancer. After his wife died he continued to work at the restaurant he’d spent his entire career at until he realized he couldn’t do it anymore. In just two months he planned his hike and headed to Georgia to do the Georgia to Maine 2176 mile 300 mountain hike on the Appalachian Trail. His reason for this hike was to work through his grief and find his purpose again.
The author openly discussed his wife’s illness, his childhood, past and his regrets. He’s a deeply religious man and his relationship with God was a strong influence throughout this experience. In the book he stated that hiking the AT “mirrored his spiritual journey” as he sought out the gift of hope and new life. His descriptions of nature, the people he encountered along the way, the culture of the AT, his struggles on the trail, what he learned and his conversations with God left me feeling fulfilled when he completed the AT hike. I read this book last week. I loved it and absolutely could.not.put.it.down. It made me feel good and gave me great admiration for those who have hiked through the AT.
Spiritual Journey? Physical Challenge? Long distance hike? Nature? Count me in! I’m putting this on my bucket list. I told my husband about this book and asked him if he’d be interested in hiking the AT. He quickly said yes. I don’t know how or when this will materialize for us but I do know the universe will present it to us at the appropriate time. Until then, it’s research and lots of practice hikes. I’ll be in the woods if anyone is looking for me.
This morning I entered the woods for a hike. Today’s trail is in a different location than the usual state park I hike. Today’s state park isn’t as big and the trail of wasn’t as strenuousbut I still left the woods with the same sense of calm I always do.
I gain something new every time I enter the woods. Sometimes it’s mental. Sometimes it’s physical. Sometimes it’s about nature. Sometimes it’s a cleansing. With each hike I go on my interest and appreciation for nature and the outdoors grows stronger and deeper. I wasn’t raised in a family that enjoyed being outdoors and I accept that. I can only be grateful that finally in my mid 40’s a synchronicity of events has led me into the woods and I can now focus on creating a lifestyle that is conducive to this. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I know that my new found interest only requires nurturing and my spare time. The woods are always there waiting for me.
I enjoy the physical challenge of hiking up an incline and feeling the sweat roll in, my heart beating faster, my gluteus muscles burning and my stiff knees cooperating with each step. Hiking is just as mental as it is physical. When I’m in the woods I often gain clarity on current situations of my life. One of my favorite things while hiking is to imagine pitching a tent, building a fire, cooking on that fire and spending the night in the woods. I’d read, I’d write, I’d reflect and as Depoche Mode says I’d, “Enjoy the Silence”. I’ve never been camping before. I’ve always enjoyed listening to my husband tell me stories of his childhood camping trips with his parents and sister. It’s something we never got around to when our kids were younger. I worked outrageous hours and even though camping was always in the back of my mind it wasn’t on my must do radar yet. It is now.
The trail this morning displayed a bounty of pine, birch, maple, oak, and hemlock trees. It’s a circular trail that leads hikers to three different waterfalls. I inhaled the smell of the falling water and observed the beauty of each waterfall I encountered. I also had a strong urge to strip off my clothes and enter the waterfall as naked as I was the day I was born to just sit there and let the water fall on me. I couldn’t do that though. It was mid morning and there were other hikers on the trail, including my two teenagers. My teenagers would end up traumatized for life and I’d get arrested for public nudity.
What I did do was take off my hiking boots and socks to dip my feet into the cool water. A few years ago I watched some Carol Tuttle videos on clearing chakras and learned how to clear each one. I remembered that one way to clear the root chakra was to rub your bare feet on the earth. I did that. I’m grounded now.