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