Saturday, June 19, 2010

Where's my muse?

Written by: Emily "Lightning" Ginger

I will never forget the day that I was dropped off on top of a mountain in Georgia- it was a foreign place that I would call "home." I was stripped of my familiar comforts, terrified, and unable to fathom the experiences, emotions, and feelings that would come. It was scary being totally out of my element and at the disposal of the 2,000 miles of wilderness that lay ahead of me. Fortunately, I adjusted quickly to my new environment. The first two months that I was out here were exciting and new; I had an awakening to my senses, as well as a rejuvenated appreciation for the beauty and serenity of nature. However, now that I've spent three months out here, my perceptions, emotions, and feelings have changed. As of late the scenery and hiking has become monotonous and mundane- I've hit the point of knowing what to expect out of each day (how long it will take me to hike and what I'll see along the way). Also, now that I've had three months of meditation I'm finding it harder and harder to keep myself entertained while alone with my thoughts; it's more challenging than I anticipated to simply think for 8 or more hours each day. I've been struggling for the past week, feeling as though I've hit a lull in my trip.

When I was living in San Francisco I missed the smell of summer in Chicago when all the street festivals, block parties, free concerts, etc. are in full swing, drawing all sorts of folks outside, and causing the streets to be crawling with people (It's prime entertainment). While being out here on the Appalachian Trail I miss those stimulants and crave something more than just my own meandering thoughts or the constant green tunnel that surrounds me. Although I've come so far that it would be ridiculous to not see this through, it's really hard to convince myself to keep going when I think I know what to expect each day.

Fortunately, the real "beauty" of the trail is that it is full of surprises and resources which can provide you with a reason to keep going. Yesterday I found my "muse." We had intended to hike 20 miles yesterday but less than halfway through our hike we made a change in plans and decided to only do 9 miles (that right there was mixing it up). We stopped in a small town called Unionville, located on the NJ and NY border. We had gotten wind on the trail that in Unionville hikers are welcome to stay at "The Mayor's House." The man who owns this house is a 71 year old man who used to be the mayor of the town, he doesn't live here anymore, he just keeps the house as a haven for hikers; it's a place where we can come to feel at home. Immediately we were welcomed and made to feel at ease (like we would in the comfort of our own home). Through the presence of the people who run the house, other hikers who rolled in throughout the day, and the company of the Mayor and his wife (who came just to visit during the evening) I felt very much part like I was surrounded by family. Having that familial comfort come from strangers reminded me as to why I am out here. I was able to see again how remarkable and multi-faceted the Appalachian Trail is. I am again able to appreciate taking part in something so remarkable and of such great importance to so many different people. I feel equipped with the inspiration and motivation I need to keep me going through the last leg of our trip.


  1. was good to hear how you've been feeling this past week, the good and the 'not so good' as well. To see how you came around once you got to "The Mayor's House" was wonderful. What does that tell you? You are a people person through and through. You shine in the presence of others, bring out the best in them, and provide an atmosphere of joy and comfort that can't be beat. One day, down the road, you'll understand why you were put on the path of the AT. It may be work-related, personal, or other but it will clinch the purpose of this amazing trip you've taken. In the meantime, keep trying to enjoy the scenery and companionship...they are there for the taking, so take 'em! With love...the other mother

  2. Hey Em, I am excited to see you guys finish. Katahdin will be your ultimate triumph. You can think about all the different thing you might like to do when you get back and what you really want to keep the same because it is importnat to your life (such as eating healthy breakfast every day, getting exercise, or even making sure you brush your teeth...or bigger stuff like maintaining friendships or making sure to travel at least once a year). hang in there and keep posting stuff to the blog. I like reading about you guys. Keep going, keep going. even if the scenery is becoming a little old hat, think of somthing new to inspire you. Think of the muscle you are building and that you are pushing your body to new heights...which will last and you will ahve muscle memory from this hike for the rest of your life. We miss you. Christie

  3. "It's really hard to convince myself to keep going when I think I know what to expect each day," said Emily.

    Yes, you have begun accruing the benefits of the AT already. However, the really valuable benefits will begin to accrue after(perhaps long after) you physically leave the AT.

    The long green tunnel will only be just beginning after climbing down Ktaadn. I certainly agree with you that knowing what to expect each day, and achieving that is pointless. But what was started by Darby Field, is that pointless?

    When I was 17 and standing on top of Ktaadn in 1978, I thought I knew what to expect from each day (and not just the trail days), and maybe 20 years ago or so, I happily realized I couldn't have been more wrong!

  4. I have been catching up on your posts and enjoying your tales from the trail. When you read, or re-read the posts over time, you get a real appreciation of your life on the trail, the mood swings, the happiness of experiencing trail magic, the people you meet, and the determination to see it through. The comments are good to read as well. Everyone has a different "take away" from your blogs, but there is no doubt that everyone is rooting for you.

  5. This was a really interesting post to read, Emily! I've always wondered if the scenery and the routine of hiking each day ever becomes a job for thru-hikers. It sounds like you hit the "Mayor's House" at just the right time to give your spirit a boost.

  6. I've been behind you since Springer Mtn. I heard talk about the "traveling circus", especially "Lightening". I was pleased to find your blog on a day exactly as you describe. I planned on hiking into Vernon, but was stopped by the "mayor" as I walked out of town after consuming a sandwich, soda, and ice cream. So here I am at the same hostel, some three weeks later. (I think at one point I was only a week behind, but hey, I'm old) Best wishes for the remainder of your hike. Hope to meet you one of the reunions (Gathering or Traildays). Redhat