Extremities….yes, for it’s been a scorcher. Mostly, however, I want to talk about old friends and new family. The last week we’ve had heat index in the 100s and we are low in elevation since the Northern boundary of the Shenandoah ridge. In fact yesterday I walked through the Cumberland Farms area. I struggle with heat, so I’ve developed a strategy for the mid-Atlantic. Keep your head down and hike! I’m in a hurry to get to higher ground. Yet, I’m already questioning that theory with the memories of my beautiful trail family that I am now 5 days lonesome for.
It’s good to hike alone, and I’ve been meeting up with a lot of beautiful people on this journey, so this is my first big chunk setting out with the intention of keeping it solo. I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with the plan. I appreciated the company and I appreciate the freedom of doing things my own way. I camped alone each night and stopped when I felt like stopping. I thought instead of talked. Valuable things to do, I suppose, but I do like the question I find myself asking, “Freedom from what?”
Sara-Tide is such a fierce friend. A high level, that I have rarely seen, despite the frequent and overwhelming love I’ve received from the boisterous life I’ve had, and the incredible women that raised me. She is one of my favorite living people to walk with and I count myself deeply lucky for her company on this journey. It feels so appropriate that, if I’m going to have a family on this thru-hike, she would be part of it. She is now working as a ridge runner in the Shenandoah stretch. Getting her perspective and meeting her people was insightful and straight-up luxurious. Ridge runners are such a valued part of how this trail is so well-cared for. Sara-Tide also happens to be an adventure-saurus. I know that we will keep getting after it together, for years to come, and I know no other woman more experienced with the great, wide out-there. She has a brilliant website and you tube channel. Look up Sara Tide Walker for all kinds of journeys.
Bard and Seeker and I aren’t done walking together, I know that. In fact, we’re meeting up in a few days to take a zero. It’s been wonderful talking to them and making music. I don’t think I could have asked for two more thoughtful, kind men. It’s amazing how all the same themes seem to be on our minds. I feel like we’re taking the same master class in life and formed a study group. It’s like we’re comparing notes. We talk about relationships, family, spirituality, death, and what we’re learning about ourselves and every conversation is real. We don’t hide or edit, we share. I’m so glad to call them friends.