Time to talk out my future options and plans. What comes next? Another long distance hike?
In the past twelve years, since I got my first GPS unit, I've recorded 20,000 hiking miles and counting. I've hiked from Katahdin in Maine to Key West, Florida, the Appalachians to the Outer Banks via NC's 1100-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail where I pioneered and was the first to hike a new 300-mile route called the Coastal Crescent. I've hiked from the AT at Harpers Ferry, WV west and north via PA's Standing Stone and Mid-State Trails to New York's Finger Lakes Trail then west via the North Country National Scenic Trail, Ohio's Buckeye Trail, and Michigan's Iron Belle Trail across all of Michigan's Upper Peninsula to northern Wisconsin, then south along Wisconsin's Ice Age trail to Illinois, then west across the Great Plains to the Colorado Rockies.
In those 20,000 miles I completed the goal of walking to the front door of every home that I've ever lived—almost two dozen of them.
But my wandering feet are not satisfied. They long to continue west from Colorado and stick my toes in the Pacific Ocean, and then to wander up toward Alaska and Canada's Northwest Territories to touch the Arctic Ocean too.
Big dreams. Along the way I would hope to continue to raise awareness of my nationwide ‘Fifty Trail’ route and advocate for building and establishing a network of connected trails in the US that could start to rival the amazing national trail network in Switzerland, which includes no less than seven different continuous cross-country trails.
I'd also hope to promote my AT-hike memoir, which I'm finally, ten years after the fact, finished writing and ready to publish.
Yet I'll be turning 74 this year. One of the things I'm usually good at is 'listening to my body' and understanding its needs and limits. At this age the art of 'resting' becomes as significant as the goal of staying fit and active. The scales find a different balance than they did ten years ago when I hiked the whole AT twice in one year. It takes longer to recover from a long hard hike. I hike slower, and when I do I find that I'm appreciating what I'm passing more than ever—stopping to 'smell the roses' in ways that I had not done before. But that means fewer miles per day—longer time needed to accomplish any goal.
So ... what should the next goal be? Or should I continue my hermit-at-the-Cloister lifestyle of retirement from cross-country hiking and just focus on full immersion in this amazing place?
In today's video I use the camera as my 'easy listener' - my sounding board to air out my thoughts while rambling through the woods on a gorgeous spring day.
At the end there's a report on the half-dozen or so new first blooms seen today, April 26th.
Below, as a bonus for those who come to this blog, here are the new blooms spotted the last two days. Enjoy.
|"Fall Color" on the Cutleaf Toothwart. They, along with the Spring Beauty, have gone to seed and are now going dormant.|
|First Jack-in-the-pulpit, April 25th.|
|Early Saxifrage, Micranthes virginiensis|
|Pussy Toes, Antennaria plantaginifolia|
|Ohio Spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis|
|Blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium|
|Artsy shot of a Blackhaw bloom from the underside|
|Baby Blue Eyes, Nemophila manziesii, native to California but abundantly self-seeded in the east now after escaping from people's gardens.|
|True wild strawberry (as opposed to the mock wild strawberry with yellow flowers), Fragaria Virginiana|