Inspiration and Just Because

I should be getting my dirty laundry downstairs to sort and start washing. I should be getting into the shower because we have a graduation party to attend today. I’m not doing any of those things so now I have to type fast because right now I need to write.

I’ve kind of pushed writing aside these past few months. Last year, I created an online account with 750 Words. It’s essentially a writer website that holds you accountable to write daily using the “Morning Pages” concept from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. I participated for a year. For a few months though I began to realize that writing everyday sometimes felt like a chore. I get up at 0415 to get to my 0600-1530 shift at the hospital so I physically can’t get up any earlier than that. Morning pages out the window. In the evening I’m not always at my best to write something. I wasn’t feeling inspired anymore and I often didn’t have anything pressing to say. I used it as a journal basically. My blog posts because infrequent as well. In April I decided to drop it all together. My daughter’s track season was in full force and both kids had a lot going on. It was also in April that I decided to share my love of essential oils with others and educate them into a more a healthy life style. Thus, I took a Business Academy course with Young Living and am trying to build a business. I don’t want writing to feel like a chore to me. Ever. I want something to trigger my inspiration and then I’ll push everything aside when I have a burning urge to write, as I am doing today, right now.

Ironically this morning the inspiration returned, hence the quote I have posted. I woke up, checked my phone and there was a notification from WordPress that a person that I follow on WordPress mentioned me in his post. I read his post and the post that I’d written a year ago when I’d met him. Below is the link to his post.

https://brothersontheat.com/2018/06/09/day-93/

To summarize, June 8, 2017, my husband and I drove 70 miles from our home in a suburb outside of Baltimore to Pen-Mar County Park. Our mission for the day was to provide food, “trail magic” for Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers as they hiked through this park to get into Pennsylvania. We met some really nice hikers. We fed them, we talked to them, we wished them well and left the park smiling. I’m fascinated by the idea of thru hiking so trail magic was something we chose to do “just because”. Because I’m Italian and I like to feed people. One hiker invited me to follow her on Instagram which I did but as the summer ended I grew curious to know if the hikers we’d fed that day reached Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. I follow various Appalachian Trail pages on Facebook and was eventually fortunate to see that more than half the thru hikers we’d met and fed that day had completed their thru hikes. Coincidentally on an Appalachian Trail facebook page, I ran across one hiker’s blog on  WordPress . He’s writing now about his 2017 thru hike. Yesterday marked a year that my husband and I met that group of hikers. So this morning I discovered that he’d written about his hiking day on June 8, 2017 and referred to the blog post I’d written that day entitled, “Just Because”.

So my point of all of this is that inspiration comes from different places when we least expect it. That’s how I like to write. That’s how I always wrote papers during my academic career, when inspiration strikes me. I think about those hikers from time to time and wonder what their post trail life is like now. I didn’t forget about that day with the thru hikers but I hadn’t given much thought to the blog post I’d written to share. Reading the hiker’s post and then my own from a year ago made me realize that I still have things to write about. So, thank you Straps for that.

Now I really need to shower and get on over to this graduation party. More to come.

 

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Just Because

On Thursday June 8, my husband and I did something that was so much fun. We provided trail magic for 2017 Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers.

We arrived at Pen-Mar County Park at approximately 1050 in the morning. Our drive was seventy miles and we’d left the house an hour later than I’d wanted to but we’d been going non stop that week and were up late the night before so I guess we needed the sleep. In anticipation of of wanting to relish each moment of this experience, I was worried we’d miss the hikers as they walked through the park.

Pen-Mar County Park has a charming appeal. There are multiple pavilions, grills, picnic tables, concessions (that were not open) a play ground, a scenic overlook, restrooms and plenty of tall trees that provided shade and a nice breeze. To be there for the day was peaceful in itself.

 After we parked the car, we decided to walk around the park to find a place to set up tables and get a grill started. My husband drove my Jeep in the grass so we didn’t have to carry our supplies so far and immediately got screamed at by a ratty old man who identified himself as the park ranger and threatened us by stating we are lucky the other park ranger wasn’t here because we’d have been thrown out. I decided immediately to ignore him and tune him out because his energy was negative. Once he realized what we were doing, he wanted to stand around and talk for what seemed like an eternity. I wanted him to leave so my husband I could focus on spending time with the thru hikers. Not to sound rude but I wasn’t about to offer him food either. It was for the hikers. He came around periodically and once the hikers realized he wasn’t with us, they ignored him.
We spotted a thru hiker immediately. I asked him if he was a thru hiker and told him we had food. He helped us unload the car and kept us company while we got the food going. Soon other hikers began to appear and before we knew it we had eight hikers joining us. We served hotdogs, chips, watermelon, oranges, brownie bites, honey buns, soda and coca cola and watched them chow. The hikers came in waves during our six hours at Pen-Mar County Park. We fed a total of 25 hikers that day.

The hikers that arrived as we were setting up were the hungriest and stayed the longest. It was lunchtime. The ones that arrived later were there to snack and stayed less time. They told us how many miles they had to hike to get to camp for the night. They told us their trail names and how they acquired them. They told us where they were from and what their plans were after they summit Mt Katahdin. The ones that came later in the day, knew the ones that had come earlier in the day. The ones that came earlier in the day told us who we could expect later on and sure enough they appeared. They knew each others eating habits, how many miles their “tramily” does in a day, what time they leave camp in the morning, what they eat, who hikes ultra light, who’s a loner, who’s a loud mouth know it all, etc. What I read about the culture of the AT was validated through my conversations with the hikers.

Through the course of the day I made a mental note of the different reasons they were thru hiking. Some were thru hiking for the adventure. There were three hikers from Germany and one from Israel and they all planned on returning to their countries after they summit Mt Katahdin. There were some that were using their thru hike to figure out their next steps in life. Some were retired. My nurse radar also zoned in on a few that seemed to be working through things in their lives by the way they carried themselves, didn’t offer much information and through the looks in their eyes, enjoyed the solitude of hiking alone. Whatever the reason for their thru hikes, I wish I could have talked to them all day. We had a little notebook and some of them signed it.

The picture that I have enclosed is the only one I took. The paper on the tree is a sign I made and put near the white blaze so they’d see it as they came out of the woods and into the park. I had planned on taking more but I decided I didn’t want to photograph the hikers and publish it on social media. I can picture them now in my mind, where they were sitting, when they arrived, what they looked like and what their stories were. The fact that they let me into their community if only for an afternoon is enough for me.

It is a known fact that I am fascinated with The Appalachian Trail. My fascination began last summer when I read “Hiking Through” by Paul V. Stutzman because it appeared as an advertisement on my Barnes and Noble Nook and continued with more books, blogs, websites, you tube videos and Instagrams. When I learned what trail magic was, I knew I wanted to provide some. Just because.

 

Trail magic is defined as, “an unexpected act of kindness” and according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, it is a quintessential part of the AT experience. The people that provide the trail magic are defined as “trail angels”.

This experience was definitely one that will keep my husband and I smiling for years to come and something we plan on doing more of, hopefully two or three times per year if time allows. In September we’d like return to provide trail magic for the SOBOs making their way to Springer Mountain Georgia.

One of the female hikers was open about what she and her boyfriend’s plans were for after their hike was complete and she was interesting to talk to. She even invited me to follow her on Instagram. She asked me what role we played in the hiking community and if we hadn’t thru hiked, why we were doing this. My answer was simple; pay it forward when you can, I love feeding people and most of all, because I wanted to.