This has been a tough week. Nothing really in particular has gone wrong and I haven’t had some sudden change of heart, but it has been the first time on the trail that I’ve had the thought of actually wanting to go home. I hate to admit that.
I wish that my posts every week could be filled with positivity and life changing events, and there is some of that. But, I also want to be honest about the hard times.
We started this week by going into NYC for the second time. We had slept literally ten feet from the train tracks the night before and had been kept up all night by loud steam engines whizzing right past our heads. We groggily took the train in the morning into the city, but quickly realized that nowhere would let us in with our hiking packs. This led us to running around all day from museum to museum like chickens with our heads cut off, only to be told that we couldn’t enter.
The highlight of the trip was the night when we went to dinner with several of my theatre friends from college and Shakespeare and Company. It was great to see all of them. It really rejuvenated my spirit. I told them stories from the trail and they told me about all of the exciting projects they are working on. I wish I had more time to spend with each of them. As my acting professor, Dr. Pender, would say, spending time with them “feeds my soul”. Their hearts are so open and honest and I find I’m able to have vulnerable conversations with them in ways that I often struggle to have with most of the hikers. The next day my friend let us leave our packs at her place so we were able to get to The Museum of Natural History and the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. I quite enjoyed both!
Overall, NYC was an exciting and soul feeding trip, but the combination of lack of sleep, limited funds, navigation problems and the general stimulation over-load of the big city led to high tensions on our return trip. I had several meltdowns while hiking that day. I started to think about how nice it would be to take a shower, sleep in a real bed, and use a flushing toilet when suddenly these thoughts had consumed me. I wanted to get away. I didn’t sleep well that night or the night after. Like I said earlier, I wanted to go home.
The only problem is that I am an unbelievably stubborn person and refuse to ever give up on anything, so I had to find a solution. It took a couple days of walking, and thinking, and walking while thinking, but I eventually figured it out. On the trail, we often say the phrase, “hike your own hike”. I’ve been hiking with a group since my first day on the trail and have been so focused on the needs of the group that I hadn’t really been hiking my own hike. I came out here to find my own strength and test my limits, but have had a security blanket around me the entire time. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to have that, but now I’m ready to take it off. My goal this week is to put me first. I’m going to stop at waterfalls when I feel like it and camp near a view if that’s what I need to do.
Last night I got to the Berkshires in Massachusetts and went to see Henry V at Shakespeare and Company (where I trained a couple summers ago). Next to this adventure, training at Shakespeare and Company is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. The whole time I was at the show I was thinking how good it felt to be home. I miss that place so much and I know I’ll be saying the same about the Appalachian Trail in a few months.
This week I will hit my halfway point, which brings up a lot of emothions. I don’t know what the second half will hold, but I can’t wait to find out. And I will find out! I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to find out here, but for now my goal is to be selfish and do what makes me happy. I’m ready to hike my own hike!