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Meredith "Skinny D" Ishida
Begins: Mar 2, 2014
Date: Fri, May 2nd, 2014
Start: On the AT
End: Near Loudon Heights
Daily Distance: 18
Trip Distance: 1,004.0
Entry Visits: 634
Journal Visits: 27,013
Guestbook Views: 1,278
Guestbook Entrys: 17
Appalachian Trail Map
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Up at bears rocks early this morning, I was sitting quietly alone when a group of hikers approached from the north. I was slightly annoyed when they interrupted my reflective moment and asked me to take their photos. But their smiles and enthusiasm (this was day 1 of a 40-mile backpack) soon dissolved my irritation.
Later in the morning I met a retired couple who was section hiking ... one dayhike at a time. They had been doing it - starting in Georgia and working north - for 15 years and were at the same spot as me. I walked with them for a bit and enjoyed their company.
The whole day was like that. I had expected people up here near the Mason Dixon line to be less kind and tend to keep to themselves, but everyone seemed to be impressed to meet a thruhiker, they wanted to hear about the journey.
At Keys Gap I detoured to the restaurant. It was more of a bar, and people were smoking so I almost got a sub to go and left. But something made me change my mind and sit down and eat. A bit later, a woman that I had previously been talking to walked by to tell me she and her husband had picked up my tab. Wow, that totally caught me by surprise, that has never happened to me before.
And so, it is as if the trail is saying, "You have learned to find peace, kindness, and comfort in nature. Now you will begin to see it in the world of people, as well." For it is easy for me to hate the city and civilization while loving nature. But the world is not quite so black and white. People are, after all, foremost a creature of the earth, so if there is beauty in the natural world, that same beauty must be within each of us.
How appropriate, then, for the trail to declare that my next lesson is to recognize that beauty in civilization! For tomorrow I leave the trail. I am sad, very sad. But the challenge of seeing the Good in people excites me. If only I might take these same eyes that see redbuds and sunsets and deer munching on leaves ; those are the eyes that can see beauty in a smile, a friendly word, an act of gentleness.
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is more than 2,175-mile long footpath stretching through 14 eastern states from Maine to Georgia. Conceived in 1921 and first completed in 1937, it traverses the wild, scenic, wooded, pastoral, and culturally significant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Learn more: www.appalachiantrail.org