08 June 2012

A.T. O/B

Appalachian Trail -- somewhere in the Pennsylvania woods.
It's a rare occasion when Richard and I have the same day off, let alone two in a row. So when the schedule eclipse formed over Memorial Day weekend, we took to the woods.

Richard hiking south.
I have a history with the Appalachian Trail. In 2009, I hiked from Georgia to Maine on the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and not in the ways I imagined it would be challenging. On a trail that is frequented with hikers just out for the day or following the path to its terminus at either end I never felt more alone. And Richard was the person I missed the most. He was finishing his fourth year of medical school while I hiked alone in the woods.

So hiking with Richard on the Appalachian Trail, even if only for a 10-mile stretch, felt wonderful.

Getting ready to sleep on the floor of the woods.
We got a late start, per usual. Heading south on the A.T. from Pine Grove Furnace State Park, we hiked for about 10 miles. The last mile or so was under a precipitous and thundering sky.

But we arrived at the Birch Run shelter to a happy group of future-friends. After drying off and finally getting the alcohol stove lit, we boiled some water and cooked some homemade Mexican rice concoction I made for my thru-hike three years prior. Hiking food, like most prepared meals, is capable of lasting decades if left undisturbed. It tasted just like I remember: salty, cheesy and filling. Yum!
New friends!

A small group of us kept the other hikers awake long past dark chatting and getting to know each other better. I have made lasting friends thanks to the A.T. Like I said, it is full of people for being an unassuming trail through the woods. And now I have three more.

I love the A.T. because it rejuvenates me. Never a fan of cities -- all the more now that I live in one -- I forget how much they drain from me. I love slipping under the cover of the woods where all things green hide me from the world of combustion engines, television sets and my to-do list.
The pack I took on my 2009 thru-hike packed for a weekend trip.

As we head back to our own combustion engine-powered car to transport us back to the city, my head is full of  wonderful weekend wandering memories of our Appalachian Trail out-and-back that provide a vehicle for escape no matter where I am.

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