For the last leg of my sabbatical three women with sturdy legs and full hearts came together to hike 24 miles from the Shenandoah Valley to beautiful Harpers Ferry in 2 and a half days (also in 90-degree heat).
You won't find better backpacking partners than Helen Favor and Lisa Goad. Both camp/hike/backpack with their families and Helen and Craig hiked the WHOLE Appalachian Trail 20 years ago in 2003. This was my first time backpacking. It was incredible and mostly because I had the best teachers and encouragers and the best company!
Many joys and challenges were before us on our trek ... we began each day with a poetry and scripture devotional to remind us of God's presence throughout our journey on the Appalachian Trail and within our friendship.
Here is a poem from Helen that perfectly sums up our time together ...
The Carpet of Ferns
by Helen Favor
The carpet of ferns, the thick, sticky heat;
the luscious red berries, our aching legs and feet.
The cool spring water; the sting of the bee,
fungus on fungus, is that what I see?
The sounds of laughter, and distant thunder.
The smells of rain, and wet tents we are under.
Spending time in the woods, we learn to see,
the simplest of things become extraordinary.
A cold, sweet spring, a bush heavy with fruit.
The past week’s worries are suddenly moot.
The pure joy we find
in a cold orange rind!
Enough time to tell our stories.
Enough time to share our worries.
To share the ache from the pack
and the courage we sometimes lack.
Can we keep the heartfelt joy of the dawn?
Feelings of simple life, how do we hold on?
Return to busy lives we know we must.
God help us to know and also to trust,
that the woods are a gift that will always be there.
We can enter when we need to know that you care.