I woke up early and had a nice cup of coffee in my tent. It was kind of chilly up at Standing Indian and I loved snuggling up in my sleeping bag one more time. Neil, Ben and I went on a great run up to the Trail and along a beautiful ridge line looking over the Nantahala forest valley. The birds were out in force and so were the wasps! I kicked a wasp nest early in the run and they were not kind to my right leg. It stung but you can’t really avoid these guys that live in holes all along the Trail. Funny – I hiked over 2,000 miles without a wasp encounter and then wham!
It was Ben’s birthday today and he turned 43. Neil’s birthday was yesterday and he turned 44. I turn 50 on Saturday and feel more like 25. The hike was wonderful for my body and mind and I want to hang on to that feeling for sure. The birthday dudes stopped for pictures of the valley and I told them a million and one Trail stories. I hope they didn’t get sick of hearing about it because I can’t stop talking about it.
I had originally planned to wait until tomorrow to head home but I started thinking about how I was only two hours from Bryan and Chuck and wanted to be home. I felt ready. The slow drive down was what I needed but I miss my family and my home. It was a calm drive back into the city and I felt proud about what I have accomplished. Poor Chuck is confused. I think the reunion for him yesterday was hard. He was happy to see me but just stared at me for the longest time. We have a lot to catch up on.
The Trail will always be with me and I can use that experience as a positive force as I move forward. I got what I wanted out of it – to reset and feel stronger. It really was a life changing experience. I am looking forward to figuring out my next step for dive instructor training. I had originally planned, paid for and booked a trip to train in the Philippines in September but I’ve come back to a different world. It might still work out but I am looking at some more realistic alternatives in the meantime.
I’m also committed to keep blogging. It really helps to journal my thoughts and avoid slipping back to where I was before. I can feel the pull. My mind seems to want to fall back into the same slot it was before I left but I keep telling myself that I’m different now. The Trail created new positive paths and I am going to stick with them. Follow those white blazes. They never steered me wrong.