I've been living here almost a year and finally set foot on the Appalachian Trail over the weekend. The kids called and invited me for a short hike. Since I've gained a few pounds this past winter, I couldn't resist the offer. My couch-potato self rose to the occasion.
The trail isn't far from my house but it's fairly inconspicuous from the main road. The sign is actually on a driveway which borders a private home. The driveway leads to the trail and common path. I guess the homeowners like to watch people backpacking past their side windows. No one invited us in for coffee though.
Even though I challenged myself a few years back in the Canadian Rockies, I haven't done much hiking since. So I found myself huffing and puffing going up a slight incline. Humiliating. Embarrassing. The younger generation and their dogs forged ahead while I swatted mosquitoes, took photos (great excuse for going more slowly), wondered why I didn't think to bring bug spray, and considered just how long it would be before I slipped in the mud and flopped on my butt.
Remembering my past experience in Canada (took a bad spill first day out), I decided to improve my safety record by improvising a walking stick from a tree branch. When Sophie turned around and saw me, she started to scold because the girls are not allowed to hold sticks while hiking. I invoked senior privileges.
The girls were surprisingly agile and really had a good time. I did too. I actually got into a rhythm with my walking stick and it brought back memories of that other summer when I pretended I was Maria from The Sound of Music and twirled on a mountaintop.
Grown kids, little kids, two dogs and a babci made it to a mossy clearing where the girls ate peanut-butter sandwiches and searched for berries.
I made the mistake of asking the children if they saw any Indians hiding behind trees. My politically-correct daughter was aghast. She didn't grow up with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Lone Ranger and Tonto, Buffalo Bob and Princess Summerfall Winterspring. When I was Sophie's age, the game of choice was Cowboys and Indians, not White Men Who Abuse Equines and Indigenous American People. We chose sides and our bikes were our horses. We even played with toy guns. Bows and arrows were allowed too. Imagine that.
Everyone managed to come down from the trail with dignity intact. No spills or tumbles.
I just had to extract my foot from my mouth.