|Beginning the trail, near Pennsylvania|
Was it worth it? The whole practice felt more like homelessness than adventure, missing the element of raw beauty that Washington hiking delivers. The wilderness we encountered were the wilds of a violent past rather than untamed expanses. Over battlefields, leaves stoically grow and fade, marking the passing of years through a kaleidoscope of greens, yellows, reds, and brown. We passed through woods, fields, and towns, never far from development striving to forget. It is easy to believe the only reality worth experiencing is our evolved now, the ultimate enlightenment from centuries of darkness. We walked the periphery of a cultivated present day, straddling the weeds of battlefields and third-growth forests alongside pastures, lawns, and neighborhood soccer fields.
There are too many layers here, all leaving deep gouges in a land too smooth to hold our past. We have tamed these woods and cut a two-thousand mile garden path from head to toe, forming this land into what we want rather than what we have been given/taken. It's too easy to feel important here, to role play God as we cultivate a landscape that echoes back what we want to hear. I craved the hallowing silence of the mountains but was given the bark of neighborhood dogs and rush of traffic. Rather than forgetting myself, along the AT I'm forced to consider the permanent fingerprint of what we leave behind.
|End of our trail in West Virginia|