For the past year I’ve been following the blog and silently cheering the efforts of a woman as she’s planned and prepared for a long journey.
For the next couple of days Ellie and her husband are driving across several states to reach the trail-head beginning. Ellie has spent the year conditioning her body and mind for this walk, as well as stash yarn food. She has cooked, then dried mountains of beans and rice. Did you know that dried beans which are cooked and re-dried will rehydrate and cook within minutes? No long soaking and simmering. When you’re tired, wet and chilly, you don’t want to wait for a couple hours for dinner to simmer.
There were days and weeks when she had two dehydrators going at a time drying quantities of meat, carrots, onions, potatoes, tomato paste… to be sealed into individual meal pouches, labeled and stored into marker containers to be delivered at strategic points along the trail. It takes a great deal of food to fuel a hiker through several months of walking.
Her minimalist gear – whew, Ellie knows how to pare down to the bare bones of hiking/camping clothes and gear. And yet, she understands the value of taking along an Irish whistle to bring some comfort and cheer in the evenings. And I’m betting that it’ll bring good camaraderie too. Music is wonderful for unifying strangers. Especially simple folk tunes that most people can relate to. I can scarcely imagine going a few days without some small instrument accompanying me. As some of you may recall, I like to take my fiddle camping. A penny whistle is a much more practical choice. Ellie is an accomplished pianist, guitar player and fiddler, I have no doubt fellow camp-sharers will enjoy her music.
Until last year she used to run marathons so she knows about arduous, physical commitments. Closing in on 58 years, Ellie has been single minded in achieving this venture. Nor is she undertaking it haphazardly. As she’s prepared she’s also done much praying. In the past two months she’s had some soul-lifting, heart-filling affirmations that God will walk with her. Afterall, how many women are given earplugs during a church service? Just the thing for those nights a snorer might be sharing an Adirondack cabin? Or what about the hymn that had been going through her mind for the past several weeks and without saying a word to anyone (after noting it was not in the hymnbook), on her very last Sunday before heading out, the words are in the bulletin and the song is sung. The sermon about God lighting the way on the trail ahead. Benedictions.
I wish I could be there when she steps onto the trail head bright and early April 1st, and accompany her the entire journey. In my heart I will, as will many other friends who will be cheering her on. In one hand will be her stout walking stick carved with names of friends who will be supporting and praying for her. Her husband will keep things going while she’s walking and sending her supplies as needed. This Wednesday Ellie will begin traversing the mountainous length of the Appalachian Trail, walking solo from Georgia all the way to Maine! Godspeed, Ellie! Ellie’s Journeys