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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 eight 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.

In 2010, Emily “Lightning” Ginger, pictured right, thru-hiked the A.T. with her good buddies Brandon “Monkey” Imp and Kate “Ringleader” Imp. Together the members of the “Traveling Circus” captured the peaks and valleys of trail life in a documentary called Beauty Beneath the Dirt. You can check out the film (as well as their blog) at www.beautybeneaththedirt.com/.

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