Do Not Feed the Animals

It’s been almost six months since my back surgery! There’s mostly good news. They repaired the herniation and I’m all healed already. After tons of physical therapy and waiting patiently, I’ve been able to test it out on a few trips with a fully loaded pack. We went to the hiker Thanksgiving for SOBOs in Hot Springs, NC and I took my family on their first Appalachian Trail adventure from Max Patch back to Hot Springs. In December, I finished the second half of the Lone Star Hiking Trail that I had left, and I just got back from Davy Crockett National Forest last week. My back feels perfect. Unfortunately, there is some nerve damage in my leg and it’s taking some time to get used to. It’s still unclear if it’s permanent but I’m hiking without pain and that’s pretty much all I need to be happy.

I’ve been thinking lately about the Pacific Crest Trail this year and about how I barely blogged at all last year. I’d love to post my thru-hike on here and just like I did on the A.T. but I’ve got to get back into the swing of things first. I can’t believe I wrote every single day for over six months and then just stopped. I have so many thoughts in my head right now and it all feels incredibly disorganized. Part of me thinks it’s because I’m not writing like I used to. Writing can be quite therapeutic. I’m anxious though, more so than when I was preparing for the A.T. You would think I would be confident, that successfully completing my first thru-hike would lend itself to alleviating my stress but I’m not finding that to be the case. This feels worse. When I was prepping for the A.T., I felt like I knew what I was doing, but prepping for the PCT feels different. I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know the first thing about snow. I’ve never been hiking on the west coast. I think part of my fear is due to the fact that I’m planning on going southbound this time and there isn’t very much information out there for that. I’ve found a few websites and groups on Facebook that have helped a little. Thankfully, so far, the call of the mountains is greater than the anxiety, so out west is where I’m headed. I talked to my Hike Life Coach and Retired Civil War General, Jester, about it and, believe it or not, he doesn’t always answer with a joke.

I always get nervous. I think it’s the combination of it being a new trail combined with the dread that you may discover you’re not actually good at it. Or that you don’t like it. And then you get on trail and you think, “Oh, yeah. This. I’m good at this. I love this.” … You’re supposed to be terrified of new things. And then you’re supposed to do them anyway.

Thanks, Jester! He also said something about cheese but I stopped listening after that. I have all my gear, I’m working on a few mail drops, slowly figuring out how I’m going to get there from Texas, and waiting to get my permit. I totally understand why most people go northbound on long trails. The waiting is the absolute worst. In the meantime, I’m going to try to keep updating the blog on my progress, and go back and post pictures from all my adventures I neglected to post about last year. That should take my mind off things nicely, or at the very least, looking at the photos will make me remember that I love this and I’m good at it.

I got a great break from my incessant over thinking and planning recently. Last weekend was my fourth anniversary with my amazing husband, the guy that supports me and loves me no matter how much time I spend in the woods. I’m still surprised and relieved every time I come home from a hike and he’s still here. I couldn’t do what I do without him. Here’s to many more years of watching his eyes glaze over with sheer boredom as I talk about how I could save 3 oz if I went with this rain jacket instead of that rain jacket.

The Retreat at Artesian Lakes

Between Sam Houston National Forest and Big Thicket National Preserve is an adorable little retreat with tons of wildlife. It was a good weekend with fire pits, hiking, bike riding, delicious food, and lots of laughs. I saw more animals at our anniversary cabin than I did for three days in the forest alone, the week before. There were deer, rabbits, armadillos, raccoons, alligators, turtles, ducks, and lots of other birds. None of them were shy. Our deck was overlooking a lake and we had visitors every day, including the biggest alligator snapping turtle we’ve ever seen! Seriously, this guy was prehistoric looking. They’ve obviously been habituated to humans. It was a little sad but also a little awesome. We didn’t feed them but they kept coming back anyways so we enjoyed their company. I understand their draw to us. The A.T. fed my soul and now I want more. PCT here I come!





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