In a few weeks, Penny and I will be out on the trail saying a slow goodbye to North Carolina and all it has meant to me these past few years. I couldn’t think of a better way to go than to spend my last month on the Mountain to Sea Trail, reflecting on and respecting the mountain region I’ve called home since 2015.
I’ve been toying with the idea since July, when we were poised to move out of Montford and into the van. A long distance hike settled easily in my mind because it filled a space in time that seemed so uncertain to me. A space between here and there.
Caleb and I are set to move back to California in late Fall. Because he’s been enjoying his work in wilderness therapy so much, we decided to stay on in the Blue Ridge for a little while longer. And longer still… It makes me smile to think that when I first moved him out here, his intentions were to stay through my graduation and then head back to the Golden State as soon as he could. I was the one dreaming of staying just a little while longer then. Funny how the tables turn.
Now, I keep saying “I feel like I’m waiting for my life to start.” It feels like being 17 again, with dreams and a direction, but a timeline that says I can’t get to it yet. I’m so ready to move out to Arcata and start growing some roots (maybe even a taproot this time) and building some dreams and settling into a place I can call ‘home.’ But right now I’m still in Asheville, just waiting for something that’s on the horizon but not in my hands yet. I’ve already separated my roots from this soil, and now I’m just sitting in a pot apart from it all, waiting to be planted again.
So a hike…
A lonnng hike…
The slow movement of it keeps pace with my waiting. And the time in my head fits well with my age of transition. It will be easier to move on to the next place if I can peacefully leave pieces of myself to rest in the soil here.
Penny and I went on a “trial hike” over labor day weekend– just 22 miles from Max Patch to Hot Springs along the Appalachian Trail. In just 22 miles I was reminding that hiking was therapy for me. I follow the ups and downs of the trail on feet and feelings. Highs and lows, always coming out alive and stronger than I was before.
I need this hike, I think. At first I wondered why I felt like this was something I had to do, and I thought I just wanted to prove that I could. That may be partially true, but I think this hike is really just a re-certification on overcoming depression and allowing myself to reflect. I need this hike so that I can really process what I’ve done the past few years and so that I can actually grow from it. I need this hike to keep from being stagnant. I need this hike to say goodbye. I need this hike so I can keep going.
So I’ve decided to hike along the moon’s path, from Harvest Moon to Hunter’s Moon. I made this declaration somewhat arbitrarily, but also because I know my self-awareness is greatest when I use the moon to mark passing time. Only 13 more days, until I begin my goodbye. The moon is waxing, and so is my anticipation.