For several days last week, I made a return to the trail. I brought along a friend of mine, Sausage Thighs the Destroyer. She will write about our adventure in an upcoming entry, so keep your eyes open. She did quite well, I must say. We did some tough stuff, and she gutted it out and survived. I’ll let her fill you in on the events of the trip; we met some characters and visited some great places.
I once again saw Harper’s Ferry, Bear’s Den Hostel, and thru hikers of all types. I walked the ground that I had walked over nearly a year ago. I smelled the subtle sweetness of rain on the earth, and the musk of a day’s hike. I felt the biting cold of the early morning, and the warming blanket of the open sun. I ate foods that I have not eaten since my thru hike, savoring the delicious calories and knowing I would burn them off easily and happily. I drank water straight from the rock — cool, clean, and sweet.
I did these things as I remembered my thru hike of the year past. People and events came flooding back to my mind as I shared story after story with Sausage Thighs the Destroyer. “Here, I saw Indy as he walked about town.” “Here, we found Colonel Patches eating a pizza by himself.” “Here, Col. Patches cooked up a delicious concoction of leftover veggies, meats, and spices. It looked weird but tasted great.” “Here, I reached the 1,000 mile mark of my journey.”
The ghostly memories of my walk seemed so long ago. They floated about my mind, teasing me with the fleeting concreteness of what I had done. I knew when I finished the trail in October that I would feel this way: I would never be able to relive precisely what I had done on my thru hike. My memories of those specific people, places, and events are forever locked away in my past. They writhe like wisps of smoke through my mind’s eye when I think of them. They pervade my mind, shaping who I am and who I will become even though they are no longer things of the present.
And although I have sanctified those memories in my mind, the journey still continues. As I recall the whispering memories of the laughs I shared, I will tangibly create new experiences with those I love. I will see new places and do new things. And through time, each of those new experiences will join the ranks of the relics of my past, just as every passing second does.
The journey continues on. It may not be what I had on the trail, but it is still my journey. Each passing moment is one to live in, because that is all we have.