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

Hey all!  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).  So far, very positive!  It has been a long haul since November 24, when the most unfortunate day occurred, which left me cursing my life!  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.  I wanted to get to the woods and hike. And let me just stop here and … full disclosure … I was in a dark place.  I felt like the pain was not going to go away.  I tried to not share my darkness with anyone, and instead moved that dark energy into little projects to move me forward.  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.  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! 🙂

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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.  A short hike that stretched my legs and soothed my soul.  Afterwards, I made a merit badge for my niece (thinking all the while it could have been for me 🙂 🙂 )

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OMG! and then, I could feel the Universe moving in my direction again!  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.  yasssss! 😀

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Now in the New Year mood, I looked to my journal.  Last year I created a journal page to track my miles hiking.  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).  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.  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!  In addition, this layout will help me keep track of all the Maryland Trail Dame hikes I lead.  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 😀 I like this muchly!

Do any of you track miles or hikes you have taken?  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. 🙂

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 🙂 🙂 🙂

Happy New Year and 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.

Oh, Hello Autumn, My Old Friend!

Yesterday morning. So good.

We, sweetie and I, started our day early at Cunningham Falls State Park. The woods was dark, the creek rushed past us on its way down the mountain, and the sun was just high enough in the sky to pierce the darkness with ribbons of morning light.

I couldn’t help but smile at the trees as they welcomed me! I said hello to all the small things…the rocks that lined the path, the acorns, the fallen leaves, the mushrooms, the birds,…even the flowers as they said their goodbyes for the season.

Cool mornings, frost on the pumpkin. This is my season. Hike on!

Kentuck Trail & The Promise of Fall

The promise of Fall! Crisp air with a chilly bite that leaves goose bumps running up your spine and down your arms.  A bright blue sky framing the yellows, reds, and oranges popping forth on the end of branches hanging with the weight of summer gone on too long. That cool, mulchy, smokey scent in the air.  The harvest season, the pies, the pumpkins, the magic! Oh, Fall, don’t make me wait much longer!

I am waiting, somewhat impatiently, for sweater weather.  Despite the humidity, the constant rain, low hanging gray clouds, Sidekick Pauli and I could take no more inside time broken up with quick strolls around the block.  Today, we were on our way west to Ohiopyle State Park to scout a trail for an upcoming Trail Dame camp out.

I questioned my decision to head out in the entrails of Hurricane Florence as I drove through heavy fog and pelting rain crossing the mountains near Frostburg, Maryland.  After coming down a couple hundred feet, though, my path was affirmed by a Bald Eagle swooping down to the shoulder of the highway! What a beauty! (and yes, I do believe in signs given to me by nature…so on I went)

Ohiopyle was crowded, of course, but I was headed up a bit to the Tharp Knob Picnic Area.  I found only one other car in the parking lot…and bathrooms… 🙂  See, it was meant to be! 😀 😀 😀

The plan was a short hike to the campground and back.  Long enough to stretch my legs, short enough for Sidekick Pauli, who has some limitations to consider…back issues, and so on.  This hike took us up to the overlook first, where we sat on a bench enjoying the breeze coming up from the gorge.  From the overlook, I could see the town of Ohiopyle hugging the Youghiogheny River (pronounced Yawkigainy…here is audio!).

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The whole scene…town, river, and even a train…made things feel right with the world. 🙂  After a few minutes, Sidekick Pauli wanted more, so we headed down the Kentuck Trail to the campground.  My shoes sunk into the soft, water-laden, trail as I requested Pauli to wait while I picked my way down the first hill.  There were three blow downs to cross over, around, or through…which meant three more on the way back! 😉

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Headed for a Blowdown

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Moss & Leaves…ahhhh! Breathe it in!

Sidekick Pauli did not have any trouble with her back today and she looked like a puppy as she clambered up and over one particular blow down!

Soggy August, and now September, left a lovely variety of fungi along the trail.  I took the time to look carefully and appreciate each small thing in the forest as I walked.  Being here, in the woods, with my dog, as the seasons change…this is a blessing! Hike on!

The Cormorant’s Advice

When Goldenrod makes her entrance Summer is surely put on notice. Add a clear, crisp morning in late August, woodland sunflowers, and a few stray leaves starting to show a tinge of orange and it seems Summer best hurry to finish her conversation before being thrust unceremoniously out the back door!

I haven’t said goodbye to her, yet. This is my last really carefree Friday for a while, so, let me visit with my friend, Summer, before she bids farewell.

Meandering about Harper’s Ferry I am engulfed in the transition between summer and fall…and lost in an oh, so blue, sky!

A kindred spirit, in form of a deer, stopped to bid me good morning.

A train barreled by pointing out there is no time to lose and I must keep pushing forward.

The Shenandoah, moving swiftly past, agreed with the train. “Make haste! Summer is packing up!”

Standing firm, between the north and south banks of the river, stood a cormorant, perched on a rock perusing his options. “No need to be bamboozled by that rackity clack train and this impatient river” he called out, “they are set in their path and cannot change course.”

I took the cormorant’s advice. I took the long way, the curvy way, the way I did not know. The un-set path.

Hike On!