It All Matters
It amazing me that I have managed to actually accomplish things in my life. I get side tracked so easily. I also can be so organized at times that I have been called anal on more than one occasional. I really do have good intentions. But when something "shiny" catches my eye, off I go. And that's just what I did. You've probably wondered what happened to Ziggy Tails. The last episode was number two, way back in January.
No worries, Ziggy is still alive and well. Something shiny lured me in a different direction and I apologize for not letting you know. I stopped going on adventures while the Maine winter dragged on. Small walks were all I could muster. I got tired of pulling on all the layers of clothing and footwear to keep warm. Romps in the fenced area playing with his ball and lots of indoor games and training to keep Prince Ziggy from going bananas was how we spent February, March and most of April. Instead of blogging, I worked on writing books, the Trail Journal mentioned in my last post and a devotional, plus some other items in the making. All titles I hope will be done by the end of November, just in time for Christmas.
The end of April we took a vacation. We headed to Georgia. The best thing in Georgia is the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. I had fairy tale dreams of starting a through hike for this year. But the reality of being 40 pounds overweight and learning to hike with a canine foiled those plans. Instead, we delighted in the fact that our son, Patrick started his thru-hike. I could't have been more excited watching him venture out on to the trail. He started at the approach trail in Amicalola State park with his older brother, Stephen and their dad, my awesome hubby, Bruce. Brittany, Patch's wife and I drove around to the easier way to access the southern terminus of the AT, Springer Mountain. We only had a one mile hike uphill. The guys had 9 miles.
Brittany camped with the boys while Bruce, Ziggy and I camped back at the car. The next morning, all the guys hiked north and Brittany and I headed to NC to my friend, Sharon's house. Brittany flew home and I went back to the trail to meet the guys 32 miles north at Neel Gap, the first stop where many wanna-be thru-hikers actually end their hikes. I collected Bruce and the boys continued on. Bruce and I hung out at Sharon's place. He worked and Ziggy and I hiked while we visited our friend. Several days later we extracted Stephen from the trail after he hiked all of Georgia with Patch. Stephen had to go back to work, unlike Patch, who quit his job to go on this adventure, gutsy move.
I had always questioned Bruce's excitement about chasing me from trailhead to trailhead when I hiked. Was he really enjoying it or just doing it to be nice? But after doing just that for a couple weeks assisting Patch and Stephen, I no longer wonder about Bruce's sincerity. It was amazingly fun to scope out the next trail crossing and meet up for a burger or meal. We didn't do it much. We wanted Patch to have his own hike unhindered by my past influences, but we sure did have a great time what little we did show up.
Bruce, Ziggy and I left home April 24th and returned May 17th, just a few days ago. The beginning of the trip was a whirlwind of trail stuff as mentioned above. Then we ended at Trail Days, a mega hiker festival in Damascus, Virginia May 13, 14, and 15. The Appalachian Trail goes right through the town park where the festival is held and continues right through town before it goes back into the woods. I had heard about Trail Days but had yet to attend. Neither of my two hikes did I take the time off from hiking to go. Many hikers do and many are lucky enough to actually arrive into Damascus as they are thru hiking.
Trail Days was AMAZING. I never wanted to go before, because I don't really like large crowds. And I was told it was just a big drunk fest and weed smokers. Sure, it is a party atmosphere, but it was so much more than that. There were vendors of all sorts, food trucks, retailers promoting the newest and greatest trail gear, the author's tent that I was a part of, but the best thing of all was, the crowd who I thought I would be afraid of. There were young families, singles, more mature folks, past-present-future hikers, dogs galore, and even pet goats on leashes. And the bands, they were awesome. The hiker talent show was cool as well as great deals at the auction.
I networked with several of the very talented authors who were in the author area with me. I either bought or book-swapped with them all. I have my summer reading all lined up and will be sharing their titles and links to their sites in my up coming posts. They all shared their tips and tricks. I have so much to learn.
Probably the most heart warming thing that happened at Trail Days for me was meeting two men who recognized me from the documentary Walking Home. The first young man whose trail name is Mind Well is hiking for mental health awareness. He lost a few friends to suicide and contemplated it himself, but instead decided to hike the trail. One of the first things he did after deciding to hike was he watched the documentary Walking Home. He said this movie solidified his decision to go on a hike instead of ending his life, so in fact, saved his life. He cried when he saw me and I cried when he shared his story.
Then there was the gentleman from Scotland. He too cried when he saw me. He also had seen Walking Home and loved it so much he watched it over and over again. He could't wait to hike the AT and then couldn't believe he met me at Trail Days. I hope to see both these gentlemen when they get to Maine. I gave them my contact information and I really do hope they reach out.
When I set out in 2015 on March 9th to hike the Appalachian Trail, I had no clue what was in store for my future. I thought I was just going on an extended vacation. So much has taken place, so much personal growth, and so many doors have been opened for me. But the best part is the community that I am now a part of. When I do talks or meet people who want to hear about my hikes, the most common question they have is, "What was your favorite part?" I always answer the same way, "That's a difficult question to answer. I can't compare one part of the trail to another because it is all wonderful in it's own way. The southern trails are soft and fairly easy. the middle states have rolling hills and fields, and the northern states are tough and majestic. Then there is all the wonderful wildflowers, neat insects, and animals. The yuck stuff taught me how to be tough. But if I had to choose my favorite part of the trail, it isn't actually part of the trail. It is the people and the community.
There have been people on the trial that have touched me in a way they will never know and just like these two men whom I never met until trail days, I touched their hearts in a way I will never fully understand. The lesson here is simple. We go on about our lives thinking "I go to work, whether it is outside the home or inside the home, eat, sleep, repeat. What do I matter?" But you do matter, you never know the influence you will have on another person, just by being you. While I struggle with the notion I could have saved someone's life just by appearing in a film that was all happen-stance, the tears in Mind Well's eyes were all to real.
When you are going through your daily grind and wondering why it matters, keep plugging away. Keep being you. Keep being kind. Offer up a smile or two to that person who looks angry or gave you poor customer service. We all matter and what you do may also save a weary soul one day.