Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I ask myself, why is life so complicated sometimes? Then if I am sincerely asking the question and am really going to be honest with myself, most times if I feel my life is complicated it is me who does it...ie...too many activities or feeling pressure from others about what they think I should be doing with my time.
I have said this before but I think the reason that in the beginning trying out things that were intimidating to me or a little scary was fathomable to me and I pushed through the discomfort is because stepping outside of my comfort zone allowed me to look at my life in a raw way so I could take out the trash so to speak in my life, reorganize my life into a way to make much more sense, focus on a plan for my life and strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father. For instance, when I was going on my mission, I had petition Heavenly Father for strength, I had to get my life in order both physically and figuratively. I got my finances in order and worked to save money and re-assess my priorities. The list could go on and on. The end result of me doing what I knew was right for me but what was scary and hard was that I had a new beginning when I got back. An uncluttered start. The same went for when I wend backpacking in Europe, started college again, when hiking the Appalachian Trail, and started grad school.
Conclusion: On a small scale I am going to have to do a review so that I can do what is in my reach to change. I know that this will relive some of the clutter in my schedule and brain:) I am super happy in my life and per the last entry have a lot I want to accomplish but not at the expense of being able to appreciate my life and the people in it.
I have excellent people in my life who love me and make me laugh. SO thank you again to my loved ones.
I am open to suggestions about a new adventure in my life:) Let me know what your ideas are:)
Monday, January 25, 2010
I have started my new semester and am trying to adjust my life so can be as successful in what I am doing as possible while not forgetting my priorities...work in progress. I have 2 midterm exams next week which is nice because then I know that I only have half of this semester left!!!
I have some things that I want to learn and am trying to decide on the most important instead of trying to do them all. See the list below.
- Pick up the guitar again. I can play but I want to be able to pick more music instead of all strumming.
- Paint in watercolor
- Ballroom dancing
- Improve volleyball skills
- Increase vocabulary and make sure I actually know the definitions of the words I use already:)
- Memorize some information I have compiled about authors, countries, culture, science etc...
My sister Sarah is pregnant, 3 month along I think. She and Jordan are going to do a great job. This is them to the left. I am so excited for them:)
Also my friends and I are starting to play volleyball again. It has been like 6 months I think since we did it regularly. We started last week and it was great to be with all my old friends again. I really know some of the best people. Well, love you guys.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Why is the trip home always feel so much longer than the trip going? I felt like the drive from GA was twice as long...I did get to finish the Hobbit by J. R. Tolkien on my rest stops:) On to the next book. I am going to try to make some time to read even though school started.
In the first picture on the left you will see Brenda and Tom. They are a 60 year old couple who just retired as professors at a university in Alabama and started their thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail Jan.1st. They we so interesting. Everyone in their lives thought they were crazy but they prepared as best they could and then moved forward as it was what they wanted to do. They are taking it one day at a time and enjoying the journey. I am excited for them and will keep an eye on their Trail Journal (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=288300).
Just being on the trail a couple of days reminded me of what a challenge it is to climb the GA mountains especially and how much love and support I send to those starting. I am different these 9 month later and I wonder what it would be like to start my hike again and pending any disasters make it to Khatadin. That thought is for another day:)
It was a peaceful Sunday which is always a great Sunday to have. I did not go hiking yesterday as it was the Sabbath. I headed home in the late afternoon with the intent to stop at the brown historical signs I saw as I headed home. I found this state park off the interstate just south of Atlanta. It was a dammed river that had a falls which you see behind me. Outside the visitors center/registration office I sat on an Adirondack style swinging bench and read and listened to the water. It was calming and nice to get out of the car into the breeze even though it was a little chilly.
It is good to be home, I feel happy to be home. This is where I am supposed to be. It is a great experience to step out and do something that although is difficult, the experience trumps all. The quote in the title of this entry is a old Eastern proverb and it is so true. To go hiking makes me simplify my life. All I need is on my back. I am walking where I need to go. There are few distractions so my mind is free to think about those things I have gotten to busy to ponder. That is why I like the quote. I am open to learning when I go, these time on trails Heavenly Father comes to me in my heart and mind and opens up answers to questions I have had and shows me questions I did not know I had. Amazing!!!
Thanks for all your support you guys:)
Bridge (AKA) Brighty...my old trail name:)
Saturday, January 16, 2010
What a good day. As you can see in the pictures it is a little gray out but it was still beautiful. I left the hostel this morning and headed to Neel's Gap, which is a old store and hostel that has been there for 120 year I think. All the people that work there have hiked the trail and have all the know-how that a hiker would need as they were starting their hike. I went into the outfitters and chatted with some ole friends from the summer and then headed for a 4 hour hike to blood mountain and beyond...it was so peacful and lovely.
As I was hiking up the trail I was thinking about a lot of things, talking to myself really:) I am sure if someone passed by that I did not see they would be thinking "that girl is talking to hereself...she looks normal enough but obviously is not all there..." Too funny:) Anyways, as I continued to hike I was feeling a little lonely, wanting someone I loved to be hiking with me, the feeling came on me all of a sudden. I think it is okay when that happens because it made me think of all of you that I love that I would love to have with me in the great experience I was having. I have learned a great many things doing these "adventures" as you all would call them both alone and with friends, but the times I have been with people I cared about brought the most joy. So to all of you that I have spent time with somewhere in nature...thank you:) Also as I was hiking and passed a Appalachian Trail shelter i closed my eyes and could almost here that laughter and rumblings of old trail friends and memories from 9 months ago. I stood in the same place where I camped and laughed with a melting pot of people less than a year ago. A wave of nostalgia washed over me like a ocean wave. Such good memories, bitter sweet.
When I got back to Neel's Gap I headed out to hike another trail...this was my adventure of the trip. I have my mother GPS with me and typed in where I needed to go, everything was fine, I was traveling down nice country roads and then I went down this little road and then it ended...a dirt road. I looked at the GPS and it said that I would be on the road for 2 miles and it was graded so on I went. I should have backed up right when I saw that dirt road but I didn't and so the fearful trip began for me. I was on this road for about 2 miles and then the road got worse...much worse. Great rocks in my path, muddy holes, sheer cliff edges. I kept looking at m GPS and taking turn after turn with each the road got more nightmarish worse. I heard rocks scraping the bottom of my car, I smelt the rubber from my tires through mud holes trying not to get stuck, I heard my car bottoming out as I went over bumps. Keep in mind that I was not going 20 miles and hour, I was going 2mph...it took me an hour to go 5 miles. I had gone 6 miles of terrane I am blessed to have made it through and the GPS said that I was 5 miles from a proper road. I had two choices, go back the way I came and I was sure my car would give up the fight or move forward. I do not know how many of you have seen my truly terrified and completely freaking out because of it? I hope none of you, not because I would have been embarrassed that I was hysterically crying as I am in the forest road, mountain, obstacle course but because you would see in my face complete helplessness and fear mixed with terror. I can chuckle a little about this now as I am writing you.
I kept my head as much as I could knowing that my car was going to get stuck on this God forsaken road and I would have to hike my way out and probably bump into Bubba and Buffort the brothers who live in the mountains. This prospect made me pray to Our Heavenly Father for the ability to keep my head and help me off this mountain and if I got stuck that he would help keep me safe. In the spaces of me singing church hymns to quell my crying I thought only of calling my sweat mother. Not because she would be able to help me get out of my predicament but because she was the first and only person I thought of to bring me peace at this time. I called that good woman and after she understood through my sobs that I was okay physically, stayed on the phone with me the whole rest of the hour it took me to make it to the road...and I did make it to the road, thanks to my mother and Heavenly Father hearing my prayer. Now any of you who make fun of my car...and I do understand that its many idiosyncrasy make it easy to find fodder but after today's ordeal the Honda has earned some new respect from me:)
Anyways. That was my day. I am not sure where I am headed tomorrow. I met a couple that are 60 years old, Brenda and Tom from Alabama who started their through hike this month. I am so excited for them. The just retired from being professors at Auburn I think in Applied Chemistry and Biochemistry. I will post the link to their trial journal if you guys are interested. Well I am bushed. Love you guys.
Friday, January 15, 2010
The pictures above from left to right are me on route to Georgia Thursday, Amacalola Falls, the trail, and me at The Hiker Hostel tonight.
I had such a great day...did you all pray that I would have the best possible weather while I am in GA? Thank you if you did:) It worked.
I left Tampa in the late morning and headed to Georgia. I stopped by the Hildoer's (Anthony Hildoer's parents) house just outside of Atlanta. I spent the night there and laughed all night with Lourdes, Anthony's mom. I left there this morning and headed to Amacalola Falls with is north of Atlanta, it is where the approach trail is for the Appalachian trail. It is a beautiful place. When you start the 8 mile all uphill hike you are confronted with a 700 stair steep climb to the top of Amacalola Falls, when you get tot the top you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After that I headed towards Springer Mountain. I feel like with was so long ago that I started the Appalachian Trail but I remembered how hard it was at the beginning and was happy to see that hiking farther that I had my first day on the trail today with a significant change in effort. It made the hike so much more enjoyable.
I know that this entry is completely boring but I am sleepy:) I will post more updates and pics tomorrow night if I am not camping.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I am excited to be going on the trail again. I have 6 days off starting tomorrow...YAY!!! As I am thinking about the drive tomorrow up to Georgia, looking through my old trail pictures and had a welling up of love like a lump in my throat and I say to my self still in awe of the strength of the experience, "that was one of the happiest and genuinely happy time in my life.
The picture is a picture of some friends from the trail at Fontana Dam right before the Smokies. I have more of these than I can say. Pictures of other thru-hikers from all over, different backgrounds and varying personalities all looking disheveled and tired but happy, at peace, thoughtful. hiking the Appalachian Trail is probably the most challenging I can think of doing. not just the physical part, hiking 2200 miles in 5months, but the mental and emotional part. Some days you are so tired that the idea of continuing the trek is inconceivable. Then you get to a shelter or camp with fellow hikers, who are just as tired, they hiked the same path you had and you sit and eat and laugh...sometime cry and help each other to make it the next day. The unity that I felt and saw formed was a unity I have never seen in my life. A love that transcends all boundaries is formed because all after a while have been humbled by the mountains.
I think when you start your 5-6 month hike you have already been humbled some by the preparations of travel, the doubt in yourself and the feedback from loved ones. You get to Springer your first day and have no idea of the profound change that is coming for you on that little path through the mountains, a change where you will never be the same.
To be able to challenge yourself in anything and achieve what you do not imagine possible is so beautiful experience and then to not make that journey alone like I though I would when I headed to GA on my own. I met guys that made me laugh until I could not breathe. I met people who's kindness and optimism made me hopeful. I met trail angels that convince you there is still so much service and humanity in this land. Most of all there was not one day that I did not feel the love of God with me. It took me a while to figure out why that was, it was like I was on my mission again accept there was no urgency and pressure that comes with such a weight call, just peace in looking around at the mountains and trees and animals and friends.
Like I said I am excited to go back for a couple days. I do not expect it to be the same as few people will be on the trail this early but I will have a smile on my face as I hike thinking about those memories last year.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Where to start. I love the outdoors. There is something that is freeing and comforting about doing activities outside, like hiking and camping. You carry everything you need with you, taking your day slow, listening to sounds that you normally are going to fast to appreciate. You have a chance to ponder what is going on in life right now. Really give yourself time to reflect. I love it. What makes that experience different but great is doing some outdoor activity with friends. This past weekend, some friends, Summer Anderson, Latoya Bell, Josh Peel, and Jeff Pope went camping in Ocala National Forest. What a funny and great time.
The Plan: (very rough estimate, we were all pretty flexible)
Meet at the church at 7am on January 1st, 2010
Head to Ocala and start hiking by 10ish
Hike 14 miles to camp site and camp
Leave camp site in the morning sometime and hike back to the car
Head back home by 5pm
All of us were late to varying degrees. Jeff at 7:15, me at 7:20, Summer and Latoya at 8ish, and Josh at 8:30ish.
Josh was snoozing for a half hour before he woke up to my knocking on his door...very funny.
Got on the road to Ocala at 9ish and then stopped for breakfast, so on the interstate at 9:30am.
Got to Ocala at 12 after many detours and adventures down back-country dirt roads we parked at a trail head that was different than the original planned
Stretched, unloaded gear and figured out new hiking goal and campsite.
Into the woods by 1:30pm
Hiked until 4:30pm
Stopped at Farles Lake Camp site which is a campsite 5ish miles from where we parked (Hunting campground)…men with guns
Left camp at 11 or noon the nest day
Got back to the car by 3
Drove and ate at a BBQ place that was great.
Got home at 8pm
You can look and see the vast difference in the two schedules which provided many very funny experiences along the way none of which are regreted. The four people I traveled with were each in their own way a breath of fresh air. Some quite, others introspective, others quick to laugh, and others extremely gentle.
Did I mention that it was raining all morning on Jan 1st…and it was cold. It was funny because spirits dropped as the weather got worse but we endured. After we roused Josh from his sleep and glowered at him for getting 2 hours more sleep than the rest of us…smile…we got on the road and had a funny but uneventful couple hours of driving. The funny things that happened on our way and during the whole weekend could not fairly be put up on the blog but there were more than 10 times where I was laughing for 10 minutes strait… Those of you who know me well know when something hits my funny bone I can laugh for a while and struggle to breathe the whole time. Truly a great time. We live on an amazing planet!!!
The camping trip with my friends is one that I will treasure in my memory for a long time. I am so thankful for the positivity and fun I had with my friends and feel a love that runs deep for them.