It’s been just about two weeks since I finished hiking the Long Trail. I reunited with my awesome and incredible partner who picked me up in Northampton at The Venture Out Project Headquarters where Bear Bait and I were hanging out after generously being picked up by Perry in North Adams.
Talk about a sight for sore eyes! I’ve never been away from my partner for this long in the 8 years we’ve been together. In the 4 years we’ve lived together I’ve never been away from home for more than 10 days. Infact the last time I left Jamaica Plain for this long was 15 years ago when I spent a month at Haystack in Maine and then drove with my friend from Boston to Santa Cruz, CA via the Deep South following a map I saved from a skateboard magazine detailing every skatepark in the US and trying to skate as many as possible along the way. (This was before internet) Before mountains inspired me to adventure, outdoor skateparks with concrete bowls led me to almost every state and up and down both coasts on many road trips.
Even after two weeks of being home I am still enamored by running water, flush toilets, the kitchen and the stove with its endless-seeming gas flow, chairs, vegetables with their water still in them. I enjoy the little things like the opportunity to wash my hands and I love making toast and real coffee.
I was extremely tired when I got home and was mostly grounded but there was definitely a crash. I drove to Vermont with my pal Seven and picked up a Long Trail hiker on the side of the road in Johnson and drove them back to the trail which soothed some of my post trail grief. We also drove thru smugglers notch and saw rocky craggy caves on this notch road. Then we went to the Green Mountain Club Welcome Center where I ritualistically handed in my journal and Long Trail End-To-Enders Certification Application which will formally put me in the archives with others who have hiked the trail and also award me a patch! I also bought myself a hat.
After a week I feel like I finally recovered from a month of unrestful sleep and adjusted back to my urban environment. It’s very loud where I live. I’m on a Main Street directly on a major city bus route and a block from a fire station. Lots of sirens and squeaky breaks and engines of large vehicles. It’s overwhelming sometimes.
I finally went back to work this week as I have spent all my money. I am happily self employed. I was reminded of hiking down the forehead of Mansfield today at work as I have my ladder set up on top of some sketchy scaffolding of wood planks over a stairwell. I actually think I was more comfortable and less afraid as a result of some of the sketchy steep spots I climbed in Vermont. It feels good to work again but it’s emotionally challenging being out in the world surrounded by the chaotic energy of stressed out people rushing around chasing shiny things. I’m booked solid for work for the next 3 weeks which feels both oppressive and relieving and I’m grateful for the work.
While I did wash my backpack and aired out some gear, my stuff is still exploded in my room. I think part of me is in denial that the hike is over and I don’t want to put anything away. I’m looking forward to some fall hiking in the White Mountains in October after I catch back up on my finances this month. I hope to hike more and do less and make my life simpler thus stay more connected and present to the stuff that matters most like the sky and love.
I do feel that I released something while walking n the woods for a month. I had a self esteem boost that has enabled me to be more free. I’m just shocked sometimes when I realize I’ve been internalizing negative messages reflected back to me by a mainstream culture where bodies like mine aren’t enough. I am just that much more committed to this lifelong practice of self love and self acceptance as a hairy female bodied, pot bellied, masculine mannered, male presenting (while not intending to pass and ridden with a lifetime of bathroom anxiety), sometimes slightly scruffy bearded, short, queer, butch, soft core, breastless 38 year old woman person human!
I met marathon runners who couldn’t handle the trail. I met conditioned athletes who have done all kinds of remarkable physical things but they could barely hike in the Northeast. I saw people with fancy expensive ultralight gear and fit looking bodies who complained and wanted to quit. The Long Trail of Vermont is rugged. The White Mountains of New Hamshire are rugged. I hike these ridge lines with great joy and sheer determination and I often give my mind all the credit. But I must give my body some credit too. I am strong. I may not look it but I am. And I am tough as nails.
Coming soon: A gear review and how my $35 New Balance trail runners faired the 272+ miles and how I missed my boots thus my overall footwear dilemma.