I had a great connection with a fellow hiker last night over dinner here at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. I don’t know how it came up but we started talking about how much we have been crying over the last few days. The first week was all planning, worrying and adrenaline. Now I am accepting that everything is working just great and the anxiety is falling away. Chuck is having a blast, the pack feels good, it’s easy and fun to make new hiking friends and I am not injured or sick. On top of all that I get to hike all day in quiet beauty. It’s almost too much to take in.
This flood is all happy tears. The mornings are especially intense when we first set out and start planning another peaceful day. I just can’t believe that I get to be here right now and spend all of this time with Chuck on this amazing trail. I’m overwhelmed by the little things I notice like how soft and quiet the leaf covered trail was yesterday. Start the crying. The soft misty rain reflects back a bluish grey off the valleys. Tears. On top of the ridge coming into Nantahala Outdoor Center the fire damaged trees set against the overlook stopped me in my tracks. Uh oh, it’s welling up again! This trail is actually quite elegant and it puts on a thousand different shows a minute. You just have to be prepared for the emotional roller coaster. Screw it, I’m going to throw my hands up and enjoy this ride.
Just when I think I am pulling it together I come across some more trail magic and start the crying all over again. The trail angel we had yesterday had been sitting in his truck all morning and we were the first thru hikers he had seen. He promised himself that he would stay out there and give away goodies until they were gone before he would head off for some fishing. People are generous, patient and supportive. No, really!
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how lucky I am to be healthy and strong enough to be out here right now. Today, my friend Betty is staring the most intense part of her stem cell treatments for multiple myeloma and she has been on my mind constantly during this hike. She is an amazing friend in so many ways and someone that I truly admire. She is hardworking, funny, generous and has a positive force like I’ve never seen before. Betty literally can pull you though anything with her energy and vuvuzuela. This cancer doesn’t have a chance with Betty fighting back but I know the next stage of this battle is going to be tough. She will be back out on that racecourse in no time but for now she needs a little of that energy back from all of us that she has given so graciously. We love you Betty and just know that you are not alone for one second of the day. We are walking with you through this and will celebrate on the other side together.
Shit. Crying again!