In 2008 I made an attempt to hike the 2000 mile Appalachian Trail. I ended up quitting the trail at 204.5 miles and nearly one month in what I thought at the time was a colossal failure. It took me a long while to recover my confidence after that failure, I was utterly defeated. My heart still aches a bit every time I see my trail pictures or see any reference to the Appalachian Trail. They make me long for the wilderness. I always thought that I would try and hike it again before I had a family because if I would wait until my yet unborn children were grown I would be too old to make an attempt at a thru-hike. Fast forward to today and I have have a 3 month old baby, a husband, a house, chickens, cats, dogs. Beings in the world that depend on me and keep me anchored to domestic life. My home is a sort of cloister, and I felt like the abandonment of my Appalachian Trail dreams was just a sacrifice that I had made in favor of marriage and family. The Christian life is full of sacrifices and I thought this was one of many I would have to live with forever.
This week I've been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and the book has definitely made me revisit my memories of the AT and my attempt at a 2000 mile feat of endurance.
The book talks about people who can run. Really run. For like 100 miles. Without injury. Even older people. The human body is truly amazing!
It occurred to me that when I was a 22 year old hiking the trail, I was already hiking like an old lady. I hiked much slower than everyone else, and downhill slopes just murdered my knees. I also had oozing blisters, some kind of infected thing on my lip that swelled up my face and a boil under the hip belt of my pack. But the knees really got to me. I wonder now, as I read Born To Run, whether my use of hiking shoes contributed to the knee injuries. I bought some Vibram FiveFingers shoes and have started walking/jogging with them, so we will see if my knees hold up!
All this to say, maybe there is still hope that I can hike the AT as an older woman. Ever since I birthed Lillian unmedicated I have felt more confidence and appreciation for my body than I ever have. I love the things that God is doing in my life right now. In my next post I'll tell you another way that I think God is correcting the path of my life, and it also can relate to the AT. Stay tuned!