It's Been a Minute . . .
Greetings all. It's been a while! Hope everyone is enjoying 2020. I mean, what's not to enjoy?
I'm currently sitting in my living room. Procrastinating. Staring out the same window I've been staring out for the past 6 months. The view has become stale. Certainly I'm not breaking ground by declaring 2020 the worst year I can recall. A confluence of events that have rendered the year simply miserable. A pandemic on top of a toxic political and social landscape. A society that can and does fight over everything. Where whether or not to wear a mask is kindling. Where social media, designed to bring people together -- more important than ever given today's isolation -- seems mostly to force people farther apart. And no end in sight.
Anyway, life has been . . . draining.
From late March through June, I barely left my house other than to run and walk around the neighborhood. And even my running took a hit (literally) when I was run down from behind by a car in mid April (fortunately, my injuries were relatively minor, although an injury to my knee kept me from running for a solid month). I spent much of my spare time sitting on the deck, drinking and reading. Not the healthiest lifestyle. The isolation was (is) not healthy. It wore mentally and physically. I think there was a constant undertone of stress (largely imperceivable) that actually caused physical manefestations. I just did not feel healthy. Nearly 4 months of no human contact other than brief, masked, trips to the grocery store down the street.
Once outdoor dining reopened and the neighborhood began to show signs of life, I made sporadic trips to the Beer & Wine store down the block to grab a beer on the patio, always early afternoon before it got crowded. It felt great to get "out," although my enjoyment generally turned to discomfort after a short while once space became too cramped to maintain appropriate distance.
Now, reduced capacity indoor dining is available and the bars are back open; but I refuse to partake. It's just my personal decision. Perhaps I'm overly cautious, but I'm not ready to be indoors without a mask. Covid seems to be the lottery no one wants to win. The disease has a crazy randomness to it. It's the rare story of the ultra-marathoner who succumbs to the virus that keeps me up at night. Having underlying conditions, I'm choosing to play it safe. Perhaps safer than most. Again, that's the decision that I've made for myself.
In September, I decided to Section Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trial -- from Harpers Ferry, WVA to Pen Mar on the Pennsylvania border. I had never backpacked before. It gave me something to plan for, which took my mind off pandemic and politics. It was fantastic. I made near daily trips to REI to perfect my gear. I bought a cooking scale to measure my items by the ounce in effort to keep my pack weight "ultra-lite" . . . or as close thereto as I could get. After a month of planning (and several trial-run day trips), my hiking buddy and I took off Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend. The hiking was slow, exacerbated by our 25-30 pound packs. The trail was mundane. Billy Bryson, who long ago wrote A Walk In the Woods about his AT thru-hike, got it right. It really is just a walk in the woods... constant ups-and-downs on the ridge of the mountains with nary a view to be had. Just trees. A far cry from other long trials, like the PCT. But I viewed it as a test run. A chance to prove I could backpack; hiking all day with a heavy pack; sleeping outdoors in the middle of the woods; filtering water from streams . . . It was a physical challenge, but we made it just under the 50 miles in three nights. Having proven our abilities, I'm looking forward to hiking some more scenic trails, like the Uinta Highline in Utah or the Timberline in Oregon. It's fulfilling to know you can survive in the wilderness with nothing but what's on your back. And it opens up sections of nature that you could not otherwise experience.
I hope everyone is doing their best. I look forward to getting back to life as normal, although I'm not optimistic that this will happen anytime soon. I'm not sure I can live another year like this; I know I'm not alone. Stay strong and wear a mask. In the meantime, a couple of pictures from the AT . . .