Margery sent me a card for my birthday with the caption above and I love the image as much as she did. It depicts a young woman in slacks, flats and a cowl neck sweater with a fiftiesish short curled hairdo studying a map while propped on a stone wall and the hood of her car. There is a view beyond her, but she is scowling a bit at the map. (my wordpress app keeps crashing or I would add the image here for you, but I realized while describing it that images are so easy to add to blog posts and often substitute for me writing a post)
The idea that a physical journey and map can get me to where I want to go mentally is irresistible. This week I bought two new guidebooks, one to the Appalachian Trail in New York and New Jersey and the other to the Thames Path, UK. I immediately began planning both journeys. The AT can be accessed by $35 bus from Port Authority to the Delaware Water Gap and followed until I reach the Pawling stop on Metro North’s Harlem line. $16 to get back to Grand Central Terminal. The distance is approximately 184 miles. It would take about three weeks and lodging costs would be minimal as it is free to camp along the AT in designated shelters. Food costs would be about $50 a week I estimate based on a high protein (peanut butter and almonds) and dried carbs diet. I ordered a Kelly Kettle so I could drink coffee and make ramen noodles. I bought a new water bottle.
The AT has previously been as appealing as elective surgery, since I read Bill Bryson’s A Walk In the Woods. It is an uncompromisingly American journey and prides itself on being something that you have to quit your job to complete, takes six months and seems to deliberately avoid the most scenic parts of the states it travels to. Many people view it as yet another accomplishment to strive for that only “counts” if you do it all at once, faster, lighter, and with better gear than everyone else. Ugh. Also, no pubs, no tearooms, and the company who seek to do the above seem a bit unhinged, at least from their forum posts and YouTube channels.
However, the trail was originally designed not for dissatisfied tech workers looking for a reason to agressively grow beards and avoid showering but instead for folks like me, living in urban areas along the coast, to be able to get out into nature easily and build a relationship with our local wilderness.
I saw a Cooper’s Hawk on our corner this week, while walking Caper. It was huge, juvenile, and sitting on an iron railing six stories above my busy corner. There is no need to do anything special to connect with nature, we are in it and it is in us. We just need to look around.
However, I still desperately want to go on long distance walks and the AT does seem to be a convenient and bargain alternative to any of the wonderful British National Trails that I’ve been contemplating for several years.
Is it important to interrogate why or is it best to act and then sort out the results?