I have been home for one week now and am still realizing things from the trail. Reading a journey north may be assisting my realizations. Many have posted comments asking about whether I kept a journal of my excursion with more personal thoughts and feelings. The answer to that is yes! There are many things that occur on the trail which one needs to work through either on their own or through the assistance of their fellow thru-hikers. Those are the things I keep with me and they help me to grow and become a better person. As I move through life from here, I will continue to learn from my journey and grow as well.
Speaking of moving through life, I have been working on that upon my return. During my wanderings through the woods, I was suppose to be thinking about/considering a job taking care of my nephews again. Since thoughts of them fueled my 31mile day into Pearisburg, VA, I had decided on the trail I was going to come back and work for my sister again. Upon my return, I was introduced to the new Daycare where all 3 of the boys are currently enrolled, and decided they were in a better place than with my selfish desire to spend my days with them. So, I arranged with my sister to take care of the boys as an aunt versus a nanny!
Luckily, I was only put on inactive status from REI and am able to return to them. So, this past Monday, I went in and talked to them about returning to work. They have lost many of my old co-workers and I will be trained to work the sales floor in camping rather than cashiering. I am also going to sit down with our in-store public relations guy and try to set up a presentation about long distance hiking or just the Appalachian Trail. Just being in the store gave me a sense of connectedness to what I had just accomplished; whereas, earlier in my return I had felt the journey was null and void upon entering my old life. I am excited to begin working at REI again and assisting people with their adventures.
Mike and I are learning how to adjust to each other being around as well as trying to conserve $$$ by using only one automobile. Yesterday, I decided to walk to Washington Park in Denver, which is about a 10-12mile trek. It is funny how that distance does not seem that far when I think about it these days. To some I told of my walk yesterday, they thought I was crazy! I guess I am a little crazy! Life on the trail was all about walking, so it does not seem weird to just walk where I need to go these days. Although, yesterday did give me a little wake up call in that regard.
As I walked from my home to near downtown Denver, I followed a bike path most of the way. When I was walking on sidewalks along roads, I often got cat-called and whistled at. That was a new experience. One certainly doesn't get that on the trail. Ok, I did get whistled at on the trail, but it was usually a shrill sort of sound from a bird I had rustled or a chipmunk chuttering away at me for walking too close to its home. Anyway, the bike path passes through some shakey areas that on a bike aren't so bad because you know you can get away quickly if need be. On foot it is a whole other story. Now, don't worry, nothing bad happened on my walk it just woke me up to my surroundings and the difference in the woods. As I walked, I passed strange looking people or the kids hanging out outside school (not sure if they were skipping school or what). The strangers were nice enough people and returned my greetings when I offerred one. However, as I moved along, I began to realize civilization is rougher than the outdoors.
At dinner last night with some of my friends from the Rocky Mountain Road Runners, I talked about my experience of walking to the park. In the woods, I never worried about strangers I passed on the trail. There is a sense of community among thru-hikers where I always felt I was protected. Besides, seeing a woman carrying a 40lb pack would certainly change some people's minds about messing with me let alone the trekking poles I was carrying. The story of the "Burning Man" is a prime example of the "trail family." We take care of each other in the woods. In civilization, if something bad happens we watch in amazement as a house burns up or someone gets beaten on the streets, and we do nothing. On the trail, there is people full of humanity and caring for their fellow man. If something had happened to me during my walk yesterday, I feel pretty sure nobody would have helped me out. That is kind of a scarey thought and thus my bike will be uncovered from the gear hanging on it to air out, and I will enjoy its transportation versus the legs, feet, and body that carried me 2200miles.