I've been home a month, my brief escape to Paradise, receding in time but not from my thoughts.
Many people helped me but there were several that I met through the Internet because of Mr. Cody, and they made this trip possible:
Chris, who ferried me from the Denver Airport to the Trailhead and then walked with me the first 8 miles of the trail;
Thaddeus, who rescued Mr. Cody when his paws were hurting, looked after him and returned him to me when he was well enough to continue; and
Rob, who made not one, but two re-supply trips from his home in Alamosa. He also provided morale support for me when the weather became particularly difficult just before Molas Pass.
Finally, there was Paul, who I met three years ago on the CDT in Montana, who provided a re-supply stop and so much more.
There was so many other people I met along the way who helped me, people I will never meet again, but whose kindness I plan to pay forward.
I consider it a privilege to have the strength and health to walk 500 miles alone. If the trail had not ended and I did not have other obligations, I could have, would have continued. Is life not about the journeys we choose?
On the trail, one is focused on the present: where am I, what do I have to eat, where will I sleep, will the weather hold? Thoughts are not deep, at least for me. I spent a lot of time keeping my mind quiet and I miss that.
There is a lot of serendipity on the trail--magical moments--gifts of coincidence. I suspect these gifts are around me every day, but I do not see them; on the trail they are hard to miss.
People can be so kind; I was the recipient of many acts of kindness all the time--maybe grumpy people don't walk in the wilderness.
I thought I would get lonely, but I found I enjoyed the solitude.
I enjoyed the travelers I met along the way, all so very different. I enjoyed talking to people I would never meet in a normal day, much less spend time with. Our common ground, the hike, united us.
I did not solve any problems, but having time to think them through, I gained internal clarity.
If I could, I would leave for another walk today. Instead, I will keep Dr. Seuss' wisdom close my heart: "Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it happened"
Until next year!