2017 Journey along the Appalachian Trail

My Shadow on the Appalachian Trail. http://www.usathroughoureyes.com

The blend of the quiet moments, the physical challenges, the mental exhaustion and the connections with God through nature are what remain with me a couple of weeks after coming off the Appalachian Trail and are what keep me going back each year with my sister and brother on our annual trek.

This year, the physical challenges began almost immediately. The first two days of the journey were grueling with incredibly steep mountains to climb. But I knew that no matter how bad my lungs were screaming or muscles I never knew I had were burning, I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other because there was only one way off this trail and it was on my own two feet.

The quiet moments make the challenges bearable. One evening after getting to camp, we relaxed by the stream, cooling our feet and washing the dirt and sweat from our faces. After a little while, I was left alone listening to the water trickle over the stones and was tenderly surprised when a tiny white moth rested on me for a little while before flitting off again. Another evening we made a fire that was beautiful but was surprisingly much more work than I remember from my years as a Girl Scout. On yet another evening we were graced with a beautiful view from a rocky outcropping over a valley below and mountains beyond to enjoy the sunset.

The mental exhaustion comes through the day along with the physical exertion. It rears its ugly head when I haven’t fueled my body with enough food or water. Luckily, we watch out for each other along the way and remind each other to take a moment to have a snack or a drink to recharge our mental batteries. Through it all, I remember that no matter what the difficulties are, we always make it to the end of the trail.  

For a little while on this hike I was alone on the trail ~ just me ~ walking in silence ~ I was able to listen to God beneath my breathing and feel His Presence in the connection of entwined roots beneath my feet. I pray that I may I carry this memory and feeling of being so rooted and grounded in God’s Love and the connection of everything through His Love with me along all our journeys.

It was so nice knowing that so many of you were interested in my journey on the Appalachian Trail. I hope you enjoyed hearing a bit about it. ~ Audrey

 

usathroughoureyes
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  1. coolxkid89

    What a great read! Very descriptive 🙂 we are hoping to get onto this trail one day soon 🙂 any tips? Check out the trails we done so far to if your interested, appreciate your advice and support.

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  2. Near-o 3

    Thanks for sharing your reflections of our trip. You have a such wonderful way of capturing the beauty of the moments in your words and photos. Glimpses like these, when we are taken from above by divine union with God, others, and the nature that supports us, break us free from our typical mode of thinking, and provide a hint to what is true. Your art reinforces this in me in the way that Thomas Merton said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

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    • usathroughoureyes

      Thank you “Near-o 3” for taking the time to share with us. It was such a moment for me. I guess when you come to the end of self is when you see beyond and with greater vision. That is such a beautiful quote and we need to post it for all to see.

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    • usathroughoureyes

      You would love the outdoor experience Deborah. The challenging moments always open my eyes to my limitations and efforts to overcome them. I just do a section at a time but its all worth it. Maybe someday I’ll conquer the whole trail, lol. I may be using my walker but hey it’ll be fun trying, lol.

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      • usathroughoureyes

        Our heart feels for you Deborah Ann. It must be hard!!! You have a priceless attitude and are an inspiration for us for that moment when such a trial strikes us. The storms of life are always coming, going or upon us. Our commitment to each other is regardless of what happens we’ll make the best of it because we know God is in total control. You are an inspiration.

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  3. Gabe Burkhardt

    Yay! So glad you got to enjoy another section on the AT. Your description of soaking sore tired feet after a tough day in a stream was so vivid, I felt that sense of relief and peace right along with you.

    And makes me REALLY excited to be back in the states and preparing to hike a section of the Trail myself in a few weeks.

    Cheers!

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    • usathroughoureyes

      Awesome hearing you are okay Gabe. We hadn’t seen any post from you and were a little worried. I bet you could relate to the tired feet having hiked as many mile as you have on that trail. We are in awe of you doing the whole journey. And now to know you are readying yourself for another hike is great!!! We can’t wait to hear how it goes. My bug bites have just started disappearing, lol! No bear bites thought, I followed your advice from the post you did on attracting bears.

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  4. RhapsodyBoheme

    I relate on each and every level to your words and your post touched my heart. You are right and as we get older the challenges are no joke at times and I have to push myself with the chronic pains these days. Yet I have never reached the end of the trail thinking that it wasn’t worth it. It is in stillness that we recharge and find a deeper connection to ourselves and our surroundings. Loved this…and so happy you got to experience this. Xo

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    • usathroughoureyes

      We can only imagine how difficult it would be to wake up each day with the chronic pain. It is great to see your positive get up and go attitude. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other knowing I’d reach the end of the trail. Made me appreciate the comforts of home, lol. So glad you are along with us.

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  5. Heide

    I love the videos you include with your posts, Audrey — this one complemented your writing especially. And you’re so right to remind us that even when there are challenges we still make it to the end of the trail. If you’re anything like me, in hindsight you realize that sometimes those challenges make the trip even more rewarding. 🙂 Cheers to you and Tom as you continue your journey!

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    • usathroughoureyes

      Thank you so much Heide. Your kind words are very encouraging to me. You are right in that overcoming the challenges does mean so much more when one reaches the goal. Character building moments for sure, lol.

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    • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

      You took my comment Heide – lol. I, too, noted how well the video was introduced by the words. Great post Audrey – well worth waiting for. Any chance we’ll get more about the trip?
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

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      • usathroughoureyes

        Hi Madelyn and Margaret. Yes, I’m wanting to do a story on some of the folks encountered on the trail. There was one cute story where our electronic gadgets didn’t work and low and behold the Boy Scouts of America were there to the rescue. They are ALWAYS prepared. So glad you liked the post and made time to talk with me.

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      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        The BSA to the rescue! I’ll bet it made them feel like a million bucks to help out the “old” folks – lol.

        I had a slightly different (still positive) experience from a troop in West Va. during my early theatre days when I was “paying my dues” all over the country. The theatre manager was their leader.

        One kid who looked about 12 to ME, probably trying to be funny, said, “See, we can do more for little old ladies than help them cross the street!” (I wasn’t even 30 at the time – lol). Same troupe, one of the “older” ones tried to ask me out, explaining “It’s okay, I like older women.”

        Somewhere I have a cute photo with all of us. They were doing some kind of powwow campfire thing, and were all dressed like Indians. They loved “hanging out” with the cast – and we enjoyed them thoroughly.
        xx,
        mgh

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      • usathroughoureyes

        It sure did Madelyn. My sister in brother looked at me with a huge grin. Here we had the electronics but they had the compass and hard copy topo maps. I just love the BSA!!!! That is a hoot what the scout said about helping little ole ladies across the street. I guess its true about you never know what comes out of the mouth of babes, lol. Isn’t it great though how they respected you and what you did in the performing arts. I wish you had videos of some of your performances. That would be neat to watch. Then again maybe its not good. I look back on some of my dads video when I was young and cringe!!!!

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      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        lol – stage shows don’t translate well to video. I’m sure if you could go back in time to see them live you wouldn’t find them cringe-worthy.

        It’s a whole other way of acting and directing – and can seem artificial or “over the top” when you film it. Films and TV use more than one camera, and the blocking accommodates that way of working. PLUS, they usually get “takes” and edit in the best.

        Good stage actors learn to respond to the audience – holding for laughs and more. It rarely translates unless it is restaged especially for film or video.
        xx,
        mgh

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      • usathroughoureyes

        Acting surely is a gift and know how much we enjoy attending performances. There is something special about live performances. It would have been great to see you perform. Who knows maybe there may be a time when the opportunity presents itself for you to step back on stage.

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      • usathroughoureyes

        One never knows how dreams can play out. Never give up on the thought and when you least expect it a moment may come. Your experience in life would add to your gifts that young folks have let to learn.

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      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        THAT would be a dream come true for sure. Remember the old commercial for Wendy’s where a little old lady was looking at her hamburger complaining, “Where’s the beef?” When I left the biz I used to joke that I would make my big come-back when they remade that commercial starring ME – lol.

        At the time it seemed eons into a future that seems to be rushing waaaaay too rapidly in my direction. 🙂
        xx,
        mgh

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      • usathroughoureyes

        Loved that commercial. I bet you could bring a whole new level to your acting at this point in life! You would put some real beef in the act. We know what you mean about the future rushing toward us a warp speed.

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      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        Sweet of you to say. Life brings depth to most things. It’s much easier to play younger than you are than the opposite – at least convincingly or with any range of emotion.

        But Hollywood (and men!) like fresh faced females, so you will see them in roles they really cannot play (or in May/December pairings that are silly, if you really think about it.) Women “age out” of the biz much sooner than men for that reason — and that much fewer of the fewer roles for women are written for women over 35 anyway.

        Even stars complain that finding work is hard! ::sigh:: Note the credits – many who keep working produce their own vehicles.
        xx,
        mgh

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      • usathroughoureyes

        We have been noticing how quickly the Actors and Actresses are being traded in for the young ones. Its sad because the older ones have the depth that young ones haven’t developed yet. Hollywood is sad.

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      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        Follow the money. Not only are younger actors usually willing to work for smaller paychecks, younger audiences flock to the shows with Gen-X names.

        Meanwhile, the quality films and little gems with more complex plots generally experience lower grosses – even many of the award winners. 😦
        xx,
        mgh

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      • usathroughoureyes

        So true about “follow the money”. If they can get somebody cheaper they do but its sad. We sadly see a degeneration of good movies coming out. There is less and less real acting because everything is in front of the “blue” screen and computer generated. When looking for movies we go back to the oldies for quality.

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      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        LOVE the oldies – especially the black and whites that have not been colorized (which makes me crazy!)

        I tend to watch only the new films with more women, regardless of age. Not so crazy about fight scenes and car chases myself. 🙂
        xx,
        mgh

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      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        Cartoons, comedies, whatever! Part of why I never cared for the Stooges – always hitting each other for a cheap laugh.

        That was Peckinpah’s point – that “cheapening” the effects of violence would only lead to more in the world. Looks like he was prescient!
        xx,
        mgh

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      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        Sad how that works, huh? The Production Code paved the way as well – people always seem to fight against restrictive policies and then run wild in the streets once they wrestle their “freedom” – lol. Humans as a whole don’t seem to quite get “the middle ground.”
        xx,
        mgh

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      • usathroughoureyes

        Its funny you note that phrase. We were just talking about that a minute ago about the “thin slippery line”. This seems to fit a lot of what is occurring in the world. You must see it in your business.

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      • usathroughoureyes

        Thank you Madelyn. This is kind of you to say. Balance is so important to us. It is a difficult point to find and maintain especially given the medias efforts to sway our thoughts.

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  6. Dippy-Dotty Girl

    How long were you on the Appalachian Trail? I might have missed out some posts, because I am a bit behind on the posts on my reader, so if you will excuse it if you have mentioned it already.

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  7. anne leueen

    Thanks for sharing this. And another lovely video! About 30 years ago I trekked the Inca Trail. It was an amazing experience and also very tough with the altitude. But I had some experiences on that trail, similar to what you describe, where I knew God was a presence close by. Amazing.

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    • usathroughoureyes

      Thank you Anne. Wow, you hiked the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu!!!! What a trek that must have been….Wow! Tom has friends that have a home there and are always speaking of it. Isn’t amazing how at the point of exhaustion He seems to speak, lol. We love your passion for life.

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      • anne leueen

        Whenn I did the Inca Trail is was in the early 1980s and you had to carry your own tent and food etc. I think now they have people or donkeys to help with that. However when I did it I was with a group of friends and we did not see anyone else for the entire four days of the trek until we got to Machu Picchu. Now I believe there are more trekkers. However if you get a chance do go for it. If not the trek then at least take the train to see the ruins.

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      • usathroughoureyes

        This is awesome that you made the trek Anne. I struggled with this one so I’ll have to get in better shape for that one. Isn’t it great fun though when we accomplish these ventures.

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    • usathroughoureyes

      Thank you Miriam for your encouraging words. It was such a wonderful experience as are all our encounters traveling. Each adventure seems to open new awareness of who we are and we just love the folks we are meeting along the way. Folks like you that we would never have met.

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  8. KathrinS

    This sounds like an incredible trip. I’m enjoying hiking in Italy with my mother this week – trips like this are a really special thing to share with family. We walked on ancient Roman trails today!

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  9. Bel

    The appalachian trail is beautiful. I enjoyed the video. It is also a tough terrain and I’m glad you were able to hike through it. I may not have been as successful 😊

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  10. robbiesinspiration

    This is such a wonderful post, Audrey. We have some amazing mountain trails in South Africa which are also tough walks like this. An amazing way to get in touch with your soul and God.

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    • usathroughoureyes

      Thank you Robbie. Your encouragement is so refreshing. Oh what a dream come true to hike some of those peaks in South Africa. I know these were some real challenges for me. One never knows their strength until its put to the test. You are so right though how its great communion time walking in His garden.

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  11. Camie

    Beautifully written post! Enjoyed the video. I’d say you were up to the challenge and how sweet to feel the wonder of this spectacular world created for us.

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    • usathroughoureyes

      Thank you so much Camie for taking time to share with me. Like you know from your travels and hikes the challenges can get a bit daunting. And yes it is so great seeing the spectacular world He created for us. Stay safe on your travels.

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  12. houstonphotojourney

    How nice to also be able to do this with your siblings!! I had to giggle too at seeing someone’s Croc shoes in the video 🙂 …I still love my Crocs! They are really great as quick shoes and love you can just hose them down! I’m with you…out in nature is when I feel closest to God and clear mindset. Thanks for such an awesome post!

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    • usathroughoureyes

      Thank you so much for making time to share with me your thoughts. Like you said, crocs are the best and I use them on the trails and our van travels. Isn’t it great when you are hiking and you feel that peace and are open to that still quiet voice of His.

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      • houstonphotojourney

        You should see the trunk of my car…crocs,water boots, flip flops and enough random items that you’d thing I was going on a cross country trip! 🙂 Yes, I even tried explaining that feeling recently to a friend and finally kind of came up with that for me, when I am out in nature with my camera, that is my “worship” time with God!

        Liked by 3 people

      • usathroughoureyes

        Love it. We’ve always got to be prepared and it sounds like you are too. Isn’t it wonderfully awesome to have that worship time with Him and knowing He’s smiling knowing you are appreciating the garden He designed for you to discover and share with us and the world!!!!!

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      • usathroughoureyes

        That’s okay. We didn’t know if you were thinking you were responding to another post. Sometimes we have done this. We’ll be reading someone’s post and the wordpress template might be the same as someone else’s and mistakenly call them by some other name. One of those “oh poop” moments, lol. Ain’t it great we are human and aren’t perfect and that God is still at work in us and we can make mistakes and laugh. Gosh we love to laugh especially at ourselves.

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