One year ago today, I huffed and puffed my way up Sky Meadows State Park’s North Ridge Trail with a group of ladies. As I carpooled with an acquaintance to this new place, I felt nervous about my ability to hike much less walk because the athlete I had once been turned into a heavy couch potato. In 2012, I came to the area for a job promotion, and I knew no one. I promised myself once I got settled I would reintroduce myself to the active woman I enjoy. Over the years, I learned the heavier you are, the less people acknowledge your presence. With that in mind, some part of me wanted to remain invisible, but the universe had a purpose for me that I said yes too, so no matter how many times I tried to deny my calling by eating, sleeping, watching TV, and gaining weight I always came back to the reality that I am, was, and will always be visible.
Anyway back to the day at hand, I asked what any newbie hiker, I use the term “hiker” loosely, would want to know, “How hard is this hike?” She nonchalantly stated, “It’s pretty flat.” With that answer the couch potato in me felt much better about the decision I had made to attend my first hike. The beauty of the park helped me stave off my desire to beat feet home. It wouldn’t have mattered my car was tucked safely in my garage, and by golly, walking that far was absolutely out of the question. We made our introductions and began our trek up the unknown elevation gain. While dodging cow patties and wishing I had an oxygen tank, I slowly, but surely made my way up Mount Kilimanjaro. Oops, I mean the North Ridge Trail. A lovely woman kept my mind occupied by telling me her story. Another tried to engage me in conversation by asking me the get to know you questions. Many grunts and groans made it very clear that talking, and walking were out of the question! So the first lady, took me under her wing and walked with me up that BIG, HUGE, MAMMOTH hill. She understood my plight by waiting on me while I rested, and sucked wind like a newborn baby. She told me her age and I was flabbergasted that I had let myself go so much that a woman some years my senior was waiting on me. Somewhere between being out of breath and disappointed in letting my health go, I vowed in that moment that I was far too young to have this fixable problem and that someday I would hike this trail with ease.
Fast forward a month, I had been walking up to 6 miles a day, rowing on my machine, and eating healthy again. Two friends and I from the first hike visited Sky Meadows North Ridge Trail again. I moved up that hill like a teenager. What a sense of accomplishment! I kept that same passion for my health up to today one year later. In honor of my hiking anniversary, I hiked my second Section on the AT between Keys Gap and Harpers Ferry with the Trail Dames of VA. It was a 6.5 mile hike that turned into 10 miles. The day before I hiked 11.5 miles. So it goes that the views drive me to the top, the waterfalls call me into the swimming holes, the off chance I might see a bear terrifies and excites me, and I am planning several Section hikes over my three week vacation in October. This peace filled place I live is about good friends, laughing, eating, and of course, hiking. I love to hike solo, and with others. I am planning my vacations around the John Muir Trail and the AT, however, I am still a shower after a hike, and sleep in my own bed type of woman. If you want to find me hiking, look on the TD of VA meetup group, we’d loved to have you just as you are. I’ve been taught hike your own hike when your solo, and hike with the group when you attend an excursion because after all the group is the place where I am encouraged to push my limits, be myself, and take it easy all in one day.
So I asked, “What is a blaze?” Well, the blaze is me moving at a speed that I had only dreamed of. I am here because I said, “Yes!” Then the multitude of women showed up to guide, support, and lead me to this wonderful life I cherish called hiking. There are so many to thank. Nancy M., Tina C., Lisa H., Lola, Barb, Thelma, Jana, Char, Joyce, and all the ladies that I continue to meet on the trails.
This is my most treasured quote by Marianne Williamson that I want to gift to you:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Liberate yourself and join us! We would love to have you laugh, relax, and love nature as we all do!