I Think It May Be Spring!

Thank goodness, right? If your winter was anything like my winter…ugh.

Father Winter was a big tease with lots of potential, but no big exciting events. In Maryland, we would get icy mix, a little snow, then it would melt and we were left with a few damp, chilly days in the mid-40s. Brrr…rrr

Thank you Goddess of Spring for finally taking control!

Last weekend, I led a “newbie backpacker” trip. We had 4 new and 5 experienced backpackers. The newbies had completed two shakedown hikes prior and felt somewhat prepared.

We began our adventure at Shippensburg Road trailhead on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. Saturday started as winter…very cold and windy! We got moving!

As we hiked the seasons turned. A lovely day indeed!

In general, we took this stretch slower, and with more breaks than I would take if I were going alone. Which makes perfect sense for new backpackers. They had plenty of time for adjusting the pack, stretching, resting, and enjoying the woods!

We rolled into Tom’s Run Shelter mid-afternoon, plenty of time for the newbies to set up.

It was a cold night and one newbie had not brought the recommended 20 degree bag. She learned and will pack accordingly next time. Sometimes, we have to learn the hard way. ๐Ÿ™‚

Spring rebounded on Sunday! The trail was a slight disaster with tons of water flowing down it and many blowdowns that had to be climbed over, under, or around! Our newbie, who hadn’t slept much due to being cold the night before, just about petered out on the last hill of the day. We got some extra food in her and took it slow…she was determined to finish! She dug deep and conquered the last hill!

Everyone finished sucessfully at Pine Grove Furnace State Park with smiles (and a few emotional tears). I am so proud of these women! We stick together, push through our fears, learn from our miscalculations, and always Hike On!

Snowy Silence at Greenbrier State Park

I haven’t hiked alone in a very long time. I had forgotten how it felt.

We had a “weather event” last night that left a fresh coat of snow on the trees and ground. This, of course, made this trip into the forest quite magical!

I pulled in to the trail head parking lot at 8:30 am…not a soul around. Threw my microspikes, extra layer, and lunch into my backpack and entered a snowy wonderland.

Stream crossing first thing. I stopped and stood beside the creek after crossing. It had started to snow again. It was so quiet… the gurgling water, a few birds chattering in the brambles…the wind as it came over the ridge…but nothing else.

I closed my eyes and tilted my head up to the steel gray sky. Snowflakes landed on my cheeks and I thought how perfect this moment.

I whispered, to the woods … to myself, “It’s been too long.”

I walked through the falling snow, up the hill, towards the lake at Greenbrier State Park. Looking back at my foot prints, I wondered if they would be covered when I headed back.

I did not see anyone on the trail until I got to the lake.

Even then, only two guys fishing on the banks. We exchanged cheerful greetings, then silence enveloped the mountain once more. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hike on!

New Year, New Goals, Day 1 x 10^5 of Sciatica!

Hey all!ย  A new year, a new beginning! Sciatica is getting better and I keep heading out to the woods to test out my back and left quad (which still feels all tingly, like it’s asleep).ย  So far, very positive!ย  It has been a long haul since November 24, when the most unfortunate day occurred, which left me cursing my life!ย  However, I am thankful for all these new stretches and exercises that I am learning in physical therapy, as they are helping enormously.

So with all the down time, I was frustrated, no doubt…especially when the semester ended and I headed into Winter Break.ย  I wanted to get to the woods and hike. And let me just stop here and … full disclosure … I was in a dark place.ย  I felt like the pain was not going to go away.ย  I tried to not share my darkness with anyone, and instead moved that dark energy into little projects to move me forward.ย  I lit a lot of candles…

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…and I reconnected with my crafty self creating a little Winter Solstice scene with embroidery to celebrate the longest night and the return of the Sun.ย  While working on this, I was able to visualize myself well and back on the trail! It was a fun week of doodling with thread and needle! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Then, still kinda stuck in that liminal space between sort of hurting and sort of feeling good, I took a New Year’s Day hike with my sister and niece.ย  A short hike that stretched my legs and soothed my soul.ย  Afterwards, I made a merit badge for my niece (thinking all the while it could have been for me ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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OMG! and then, I could feel the Universe moving in my direction again!ย  I won an emergency first aid kit from Emergency Response, LLC! What a lift to my psyche! So surprising, and Saleena even dropped it off at my house.ย  yasssss! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Now in the New Year mood, I looked to my journal.ย  Last year I created a journal page to track my miles hiking.ย  About 350 miles in, the page layout started to tick me off because if I didn’t make a certain number of miles, then I couldn’t color in the next block (see pic below).ย  I stopped tracking with this layout and just started listing the miles in my planner.

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As a result, this year, I have created a different layout and I am already loving it! This layout is so much more affirming than last year’s as I can reward every hike I take, instead of miles hiked.ย  SMILES not MILES…hahaha, I just remembered I posed in front of a banner that said something like that at Neel’s Gap in Georgia!ย  In addition, this layout will help me keep track of all the Maryland Trail Dame hikes I lead.ย  I am confident this is going to work better this year!

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I just realized, they all look like little merit badges ๐Ÿ˜€ I like this muchly!

Do any of you track miles or hikes you have taken?ย  I would love to see your layouts or hear what works for you! Much merriment in 2019, Hike on!

Got 30 Minutes To Spare?

Bolivar Heights is a wonderful short trail to stretch your legs. Especially, if you are waiting for Harper’s Ferry only Vegan restaurant, Kelley Farm Kitchen, to open!

We took the loop starting on the ridge, then circling down to the battlefield, then back up. About a mile, perfect to while away a half hour.

The trail is gentle with the bonus of great views! We spooked a herd of deer on our way across the ridge.

And a spectacular sunrise greeted us as we climbed back up to the ridge.

Now at the top, my stomach reminded me that I had not eaten breakfast…time for lunch!

A BBQ Jackfruit sandwich with a side of mac & cheese, yassss! Hike on!

Beavers Been Busy at Seneca Creek State Park!

Today’s hike at Seneca Creek State Park convinced me that I have just about fully recovered from a sciatica injury. An injury that resulted from too many hours in the car driving back from Hoosierland at Thanksgiving.

Since then I have been in physical rehab land…not much hiking there!

I was a little concerned that a hike of six miles might be too much. I did some extra stretches and went anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

Glorious day out with my good hiking pal, Lola. The weather was chilly to start. Frost made meadows glitter seductively. I stopped several times to snap photos…and to consciously check in with my body. All good! Down the trail we go!

The sky was bright blue and birds chirped happily. It warmed up enough to shed a layer. I also ditched the gloves and the hat!

Walking around the lake, Lola pointed out the handiwork of the local beaver population. They have been BUSY!!

We looked everywhere for a dam,but never found one. We never saw a beaver either, which I found quite curious with the abundant quantity of felled trees!

I stopped to sit and stretch once we had rounded the lake. Those beavers. All that work, all that sheer tenacity to try to fell trees way too big, and from the looks of it…not even one decent dam on the lake. Could be my spirit animal ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy New Year and Hike On!

Morn of Thanksgiving

Thank you farm for welcoming me back.

Thank you sun, I see you peaking through the trees.

Thank you trees, with your long, morning shadows that cut across my path.

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Thank you frost for giving me diamonds.

Thank you birds for singing me home.

Thank you sky for holding me so gently in your space.

Thank you air, so crisp as I take you in and warm you.

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Thank you rocks for sparkling and meadow grasses, with long icy tendrils, reaching out to caress me as I pass.

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Thank you brown hard ground waiting for sun’s magic touch that will turn you to squishy mud once more.

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Thank you deer for greeting me at what will be the sacred resting spot for my Dad’s ashes.

Thank you Daddy for showing me how to appreciate Mother Earth with all her gifts.

I know you can now go anywhere, but this is a nice spot to rest awhile.

See you on my next walk. Hike on.

First Snow

The first snow is magical. We were only forecasted for rain and ice primarily…so when the soft, white flakes started to slowly drift lazily from sky to earth I felt my spirits soar.

The snow steadily filled my yard. Covering up mounds of mulch needing to be spread, the dry, dormant rose bushes, and gravel pathway. All was quiet. I lit a few candles and settled into winter.

Overnight, the skies, now empty, cleared to dark blue broken by long silvery gray-white clouds that moved with haste from west to east.

Morning is now. I greet this day, my day, my 51st anniversary with Mother Earth, with wonder.

Let the light in. Say a prayer of gratitude. Hike on.