Trying to fill a void – locally

Yesterday was a tough day for me and i haven’t had one of those in over two weeks – since I got off the AT. I had charge of my 5 year old grandson who I love spending one designated day a week with – but yesterday I was in a funk and playing Legos or reading just became hard and frustrating. Fortunately he does amuse himself while he believes he’s the center of my attention – he was not, my mind was far away on the trail.

I don’t know what it was – probably a combination of things, that put me in the mood to, again, run away. I know logically that my knees can’t handle supporting a backpack and hiking up and down mountains but I was desperately trying to figure a way back anyway. It doesn’t help that a new friend, a relationship established on the trail, has been feeling lonely, isolated and a little miserable with her own physical issues – I wanted to be out there with her. We texted each other and commiserated and hoped for the best for each other while, not so secretly, being selfish because we both want to hike and we both want an agreeable companion.

I’m in a place similar to when I left; I am home and lonely but not working and, for the time being, without a vehicle. I had hoped that after a ‘rest’ period at home, I’d go out and tackle the Whites because they are local – see how my knees take it, stay in shape (after all that work on the trail) and use my ‘free’ time to still hike but ‘slackpack’ it. That hasn’t been possible yet and that’s some of my problem right now – not having a car is restricting. I don’t know if it would lessen the nostalgia for the trail – I imagine it would, I’d hope it would.

This morning I feel a little better, more realistic. I know I need to DO something with my time that makes me feel productive, constructive and not an AT drop-off. I’m not ready for work – I think I’d break. Having to give up on my 2017 goal is bad enough – having to go back to a job I just hate before I am stronger would be devistating.


Daily Prompt: Local

Illusions are best maintained when they are closer to home.

Hiking a portion of the AT for 5 weeks taught/reminded me of a few things and I try to continue to reflect on these even as I am back in ‘society’ and attempting to minimize the negative and accentuate the positive: it’s a fine line between open to what’s out there and trying to be optimistic about ‘reality’.

I really don’t like going political but that is hard to evade in our world where almost everything uttered – in person or via media – isn’t somehow twisted into “politically correct”,  “fake news” or “alternate facts” – or just blatent HATE. The cliche “you make your own reality” stings when what we see and what we (like) to believe or experience resides in polar opposition.

Reality is paying hundreds of dollars a month for ‘health insurance’ and then, when you need it, you have to then pay another few thousand BEFORE the insurance will pay any money toward a bill – and then it’s a matter of fine print and legal lingo as to whether or not the insurance companies even pay then. There is a difference in what we want to believe about our healthcare system (aka federal government) and what stares us in the face in black & white on a medical statement.

The belief that our federal and state government (otherwise known as elected ‘people’, for lack of better options) has our best interests in mind/heart when creating laws and policies is an illusion and it’s one in which most of us must surrender common sense and intelligence to keep from slipping into hopelessness and despair. Thankfully there are those with conviction, strength, resources, money, time and that special character that makes them not only persevere to make the world a better place but they spearhead the movement to do so.

I have been abstaining from ‘news’ since before I started my hike and some may say that’s irresponsible but I don’t care; I feel better not “consuming” the daily poison. Some might claim that if you don’t pay attention then you don’t know what’s going on – and, what will you do if ‘SOMETHING HAPPENS’ and you need to react? Well, most people are more than happy to pass along information: “Hey, did you hear about___?” so there’s no chance of not knowing what’s going on. And, there’s not much anyone can do about what IS going on anyway. I’m on the same ship as the rest of the 99% and will do what I have to do at the time. There’s no reason for me to be burdened EVERYDAY by the chaos of government: it’s confusing, it’s disheartening, it’s concerning and no amount of attention from me is going to change that. What does help me is going about my life with the belief that ‘things will work out’ & hope for the best. I am not delusional: I’ve never believed that elected officials strive for anymore than keeping or moving up in their positions of power – we’re not even on their radar except in time for elections.

My re-appreciation of my family and the small pleasures I have in my life is what I try to keep in mind and that’s easier to do if I stay away from the toxic environment of the world as much as I can. I can only try to be positive about the future and it’s much easier to maintain that illusion if I focus on my own small world.

Daily Prompt: illusion

Dirty Laundry

I was briefly listening to the radio this evening, what station or who – I have no idea but the duo/trio of “hosts” it seemed were discussing the situation of a inter-religious couple (just like inter-racial, a couple who share a different ‘belief system’ from each other) and they were deciding, in other words – judging, how one or the other should handle the differences and why one is right or wrong, etc.

I thought to myself: since when did what transpires between a couple become everyone else’s business? It seems there is no end to the meddling (almost) everyone does into other people’s personal affairs…and then it’s “aired” – literally, in the media. What’s that adage; don’t air your dirty laundry?

If one friend ‘confides’ in another about a personal issue: 1. It should stay there; 2. even if said friend is made aware, that doesn’t mean that now an ‘intervention’ by said friend is wanted or needed.

Shouldn’t we all pay more attention to our own dirty laundry and let others sort out theirs.

I turned the dial.

Daily Prompt: Meddle

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 1

I came across some blogs that had a title similar to mine except differing days and I hunted for the source of the challenge, I even elicited the ‘experts’ on WP (I won’t even discuss how dismally that went but I will say that I finally told ‘the expert’ that I thought (they) were deliberately being obtuse after giving me instructions on how to click on somene’s blog posts – really?!). I never did find ‘the source’ but I’m just going to mimic what I saw.

The name of my Blog is Karyn’s Domain. I’ve had other blogs with various names and none of them had any theme, mostly just online journaling – which is what I’m still doing. I have some anxiety about posting my thoughts or experiences online for reasons I think are obvious to everyone. Despite those concerns, many of us cannot resist the temptation to blog because we like to ‘write’, we like to share, we like making connections with other people, blogging has become a fringe form of expression or ‘art’ and because writing/journaling helps us figure ourselves out; sifting through thoughts and emotions to get to a core belief or value.

I’ve been more creative with my blog name prior but many times ‘it’s already taken’ and I finally just settled with my name and the ‘domain’ was because when setting up a blog site you need a ‘domain’ and because I’m tech-illiterate I just used “domain” in my name. It does make a good fit in the truest sense of the word: Karyn’s Domain is my area, my site, my place where my blog with thoughts and expressions live.

Creating a “name” is something that we do want to spend time thinking about – like parents do when expecting a baby. A name means something. A name is life-long. The name of a blog is what might attract readers or it conveys what the blog is about/theme.

I like writing so I got impatient with the name and just wanted to dive into my post. I’ve deleted prior blog sites because I wanted to go in a different direction or I had multiple blogs going and it was becoming a juggling act. I don’t know that sometime in the future when I finally decide on a theme instead of SoC writing, I might change it up again.

So, there it is: my blog’s ‘name’ and why.

BTW: now that I’ve noticed, I have no way to ‘tag’ or ‘catagorize’ my posts. I only have the “visual” and “HTML” tabs up under my title. Wierd.

The Trek, my blogs, the AT

I’ve neglected my domain here…I’ve been juggling a few things. As I’ve said before, I have  posts on the website and I will now provide hyperlinks to the last three:

The above was written while I was on a break from the trail.

I’m not sure why the above link is a number and not my title but it’s about getting back on the trail.

and finally this last one is why I got off…again.

I’m off-trail indefinitely but it still lingers in both my conscious and subconscious mind like flashes of a dream that I can’t quite grasp it in it’s entirety and bring to the forefront of my memory. I’m sifting through what it all means for me – which seems, even to me, a little bit like reaching, like making – as the adage goes – a mountain out of a mole-hill (no pun intended) but it has been a significant ‘event’ in my life and I am not ready (nor do I think I really can) to put it to bed. So, I am going to be writing a bit more, here, about my experiences and what they meant to me for awhile longer.


Daily Prompt: Revelations

37 days, magic and realization

It’s the last day of May. I came home on the 29th around midnight. I’d been on the AT for 37 days and I’d finally had a meltdown.

37 Day Summary:

I’d done well with what I packed and what I thought I would and wouldn’t need. I brought some stuff that I sent home before I even started – and then needed to have mailed back to me. I brought some stuff that I thought I wouldn’t really need/want – and subsequently also sent home.

I spent the first two weeks with bleeding, weeping toes/feet from the skin having blistered and rubbed raw. Other thru-hikers thought I was done, finished but I persevered and hiked 12-16 mile days with those throbbing feet until I finally got a pair of boots. I thought, “this is the beginning of a new kind of hike”.

I had a good week or two after that but then the monotony set in and the questions: why am I doing this? who really cares but me and do I really care?

I was so lonely hiking alone for hours of the day. All I could think about was my family back home. At the end of the day I was relieved to reach camp/shelter and find my ‘tribe’ (or some of them – the trail dictates when and where you arrive, not you) – we talked about what we saw, who we talked to and what we discovered, what we liked or disliked about that day.

The running ‘joke’ about the trail was the constant damp or rain: 32 of the 37 days I was on the trail is either rained or rained intermittently. We had two above-average hot days and two partly sunny days that were perfect for hiking. Otherwise, we were constantly wet from both sweat and rain. And, it was cold. You reach camp, try to dry off and get your one pair of dry clothes on, hunker down in your bag. In the morning you get your wet clothes and boots and put them back on..pack up and head out for another day.

My feet were my first problem then it was my legs/knees. They constantly ached with stabbing pains. My toes and the balls of my feet were numb constantly. My nights were sleep deprived due to either the cold & wet but mostly due to my painful leg cramps.

Many of my tribe were due to get off the trail (planned, arranged or not) and spend some zero time with their family. It was the 37th day and I was spent, cooked, done. My legs ached, I was tired and inconsolable. I just wanted to go home. I just wanted my family.

NY, rain and departure:

I can tell you that many days had their ‘trail magic’ and had their highlights. I thoroughly enjoyed all that I met on the trail. The days that were hardest and I thought, ‘there’s no way trail magic is going to fix this’, I was wrong.

Three of us had humped our asses over NY ascents, rock climbing, descents, bogs, etc. for 11 (eleven) hours to reach a shower we were informed was available. By 5:30 we were met with disappointment and we were told we had to back track to a shelter for thru-hikers (where we knew there was a rogue bear that was not afraid of people entering the campsite and stealing not only food bags but back packs) – we refused.

I met a man at the fountain who was exercising his dog. We talked. I eventually asked if he had a truck to which he replied “no, why?”. I said it wasn’t far but I wanted a lift back to the trail. I returned to the public bathroom to finish my ‘bird-bath’ (washing from the sink) and when I came back out my tribe called me to the picnic table. The man had returned with his car and offered to take us to his home for the night. (Heavy rain was in the forecast for the next 24 + hours). We accepted. We went to his home, showered, did our laundry and slept in beds. The next morning he’d gone out to buy breakfast food and made us a meal better than any restaurant (he’s a chef). We drank coffee and packed and made it back to the trail by mid-morning.

There was something profoundly emotional about the whole scene. I just wanted to stay warm in a comfortable home and drink tea. I wanted rest. What I realized I wanted was my family, my home. Comfort. I cried for the next three miles to the next shelter where various members of the hiking community were huddled down under a dank roof from the rain and cold. We all talked about how miserable it’s been. Two members knew they were getting off in a few days and were motivated to move on the the destination. Someone else said, “I’ve thought all morning off getting off. I’ve done over 300 miles of the AT and that’s more than anyone I know has done”. I blubbered that I just wanted to go home. I made up my mind. The next road or opportunity I was off.

Up the AT 2.5 miles was a throughway with a visitors center 0.5 miles from where we would be crossing. I would hike to the center and just ‘punt’ from there as to how I’d get home.

Through a taxi (called by the woman at the center) to a town where I could get on Amtrak and then get to Boston for Concord Trailways (bus) home – I arrived about 11:30 pm. It was a long ride but I was so satisfied that I’d made the decision to get home.

Expectations vs. Reality:

It’s been two days. I keep thinking about the trail, about my tribe. They’re scattered now. I think I will get back to the point where I departed but I am not feeling really sure about that. I am not disappointed in myself. I feel like I’m in limbo…not sure what I will do, not sure about what I want.

I hoped for magic. I hoped for some answers. I hope for a change in my life.

I got all three but not in the way I had expected. The reality is that you make changes in your life, try something new and then learn something new. My life is full with my family. They are the most important thing to me – more important than a dream. I can have both and maybe I still will. It’s a wide open future and I can do what I want but I’m glad I took a break from the trail, from the unrealistic push to keep going when my body and mind were telling me to stop.

If I get back on, I’ll need to make some more adjustments to make my life on the AT a little more tolerable. That’s a decision to be made another day. Right now I’m going to spend some time with my kids and grandson. We are going to have a hot meal and socialize, catch-up. That will carry me forward.


Addendum: June 1st. I found out today that my daughter is pregnant with my second grandchild – perhaps getting off the trail was ‘destiny’ or Trail Magic at it’s best!



Thoughts from two months ago:

The “start date” is closing in and I’m feeling pretty good about my pack and contents. Sure, I might need a thing or two once I start or find out I hate the underwear I’ve chosen but all of that will shake out over several days or even weeks when I get into the trail-lifestyle.

Daily “life”

Now that the essentials are purchased, played with and packed I have the leisure time to contemplate how my days will most likely be spent. We all know that each day – except for the zeros – are spent putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, month after month. When I think about this, really think on it…I start to feel a little like…what in the hell is going to keep me motivated to keep going for months just walking through the woods? 

The “draw”

I, like probably everyone else, have on an emotional or spiritual level glamorized the trail. We all know that leaving our relatively comfortable world to sleep in the woods and carry a loaded backpack everyday in all kinds of weather is not easy or glamorous. But those of us that enjoy being in the woods, hiking, might think we have escaped our life’s drudgery and entered a hiker-heaven. I know I do. At least on the surface. But when I consider doing this every day not just getting away on my ‘day off’, I feel that the bliss will soon wear away faster than the tread on my shoes.

Some “reprieve”

I’ve been giving some thought to how I might give my days some form, some structure that might make me more comfortable (being a creature of habit) and also give me something, when the monotony starts to take it’s toll, to look forward to, some ideas with how to do things I enjoy throughout the day.

Part of the lure of thru-hiking is the freedom: unstructured, unscheduled, timeless freedom. But freedom, after days of seemingly limitless hours stretched between sunrise and sunset and nothing to do but keep on walking might start to feel a little like, well, drudgery ~ especially solo hiking and if I’m outside of a bubble for hours or days.

Considering things I enjoy doing or that I would like to get in the habit of enjoying again include some reading  – time to escape into another time or world and characters with whom I want to spend some time. I can get lost in a well written story or sometimes finding out about the trials and accomplishments of historical or contemporary people is intriguing and encouraging.

Sometimes I need to write, usually just to get thoughts or ideas out of my head an on paper (or computer) but on the trail I do want to keep a journal. I have the blog/posts that I do want to write but that won’t be everyday. I’m thinking of keeping a paper journal – bound or maybe just pages mailed home intermittently so I’m not carrying the extra weight of a notebook. This, for me, is an easier form to jot down thoughts while walking or write more lengthy entries at lunchtime or at the end of the day. While I’m in town, recharging on multiple levels, I can enter my posts on The Trek or my blog, Karyn’s Domain.