Return to mundane life


Kensington, MD, August 15, 2014 — I saddled up my car in my cousin Deb’s Grantham, NH driveway, ready for the journey home.  The leaves are hinting their fall colors and it was time to leave.  

On this phase of the journey, the pathway would mostly be on I-95 which exists as a remarkably dissimilar parallel universe to the the sylvan setting we’ve come to know as the Appalachian Trail. 

The drive home was relaxing and noneventful to my delight. I arrived around midafternoon on a delightful late summer day featuring low humidity.  I pitied the traditional Washingtonians who’ve made their lemming-like August escape. This place can be delightful with a huge chunk of the local population out of town.

The mood wasn’t right to do much after arriving, so I unloaded the car and junked my gear in a pile to be sorted another time.  The stuff that smelled like ripe gym socks stayed quarantined in the garage. Like the rocks, nothing was going to go anywhere.

The cats were happy.  They expressed their glee in the usual ways, rubbing and purring up a storm.  Then I fired up the grill, savored non-dehydrated BBQ and melted into my chair to watch “Project Runway” with my wife and daughter.  Sophie, my favorite cat assumed her usual position on my knee. 

This morning I got a haircut.  Afterwards I could not resist grazing at my favorite donut shop next door.  I adore their glazed donuts.  Let’s not make that a habit, I reminded myself. Reintegration is nearly complete.

The heart of today’s plan was to clean up my gear, wash my clothes, sleeping bag and down jackets, and remove the funk from my rain gear.  Since my trail crew is working tomorrow I needed to prepare my contribution to our post work pot luck dinner.  The theme this month is Caribbean.  Here’s hoping my finely chopped mixed greens with pineapple, mango and watermelon, drizzled in balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing will complement everyone’s jerk chicken.

Late this afternoon, the laundry remained a work in progress, so I decided to skip tenting tonight (Friday) and instead will drive up early tomorrow morning.  I will camp Saturday night.  I hate to miss spending Friday with some of the more intrepid crew members, but I really don’t feel like practicing my deep woods sleeping skills just now.  That can wait until next month.  Monday I return to the gym to get ready for cross-country ski season.

After Katahdin, I needed to clean up two short trail sections I’d skipped.  I was too ill to join Swayed when he hiked the Wildcats, a taxing 21 mile chunk from Pinkham Notch, NH to Rt. 2.  With pending big rain as the motivation and aided by fresh and healthy knees, I knocked it off in 14 hours nonstop.  A day earlier I ripped through a seven mile stretch, centered outside Andover, ME and Moody Mountain, in what turned out to be a no-challenge jaunt.  The yellow blazes have been erased from the record.

Wednesday morning I met with a rep from the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) about the perception of their brand in the minds of thru and long distance hikers.  They are well aware and nondefensive.  Best, since this was my second conversation on this subject, my impression is that they are willing to listen and repair as much of the damage as possible. I’m hoping to be a productive part of that process, after all that’s what most of my communications career was all about.

Once the weekend’s work is done, I’ll begin sorting out my trip report for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), final equipment review, lessons learned and the video.  Then there’s the honey do list … here’s a hint.  It’s long.

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6 thoughts on “Return to mundane life

  1. I bet some of your gear can either stand by itself or walk way by itself!! Welcome home! Going to mount your trekking poles????

    • Been working on that front all day. The rain gear was the worst, by far. The sleeping bag wasn’t far behind tho. One thing I did right, having learned from being a trail angel last year, I kept my rotten socks in plastic bags. That kept their pungent fragrance from permeating everything else.

  2. Sisu/Jim: congratulations on completing your thru-hike of the AT, and thanks for keeping such a fine, well-written journal during your trip. I’ve enjoyed tagging along vicariously and look forward to starting my own trek of the AT later this year or early next. I’ll be making good use of the many tips and advice you mentioned. Take care, and good luck on all your future journeys. – Colin’s Dad

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