It seems that since I was a child, I have always been on the hunt for something. Whether is was for rocks, animals or something more internal. Hike the Appalachian Trail, seems to be running in a similar fashion. I spend my days with my eyes glued to the trail a lot. Mostly, so that I don’t trip on a root or a rock. Because of this fact I have been finding some interesting things.
I find rocks that interest me. A lot of rocks! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love rocks. I started my obsession with rocks when my dad would take the whole family to the Kinney dumps to look for agates. Let me just explain to those not from the Iron Range of Minnesota that we have two kind of dumps, garbage and mine dumps. Mine dumps are piles of dirt. The overburden of soil on top of ore that is to be mined, is removed and piled up and becomes a very LARGE hill. In some of theses hills we can find agates. At the Hill Annex Mine in Calumet, MN you can find fossils.
How this has come into play now, is that I am picking up small rocks to send home from every state. So, instead of my pack getting lighter as my food disappears in my stomach, it gets heavier. I have found Native American points which we call arrowheads. I have found coal, iron, slate, quartz etc. Every time Whatever Works and I get to town, we head in the direction of a post office to send home a few of our favorite finds.
My other obsession on the trail has been my hunt for salamanders and newts. I love these little creatures. When it rains, newts actually can be seen crossing the trail. It is very hard not to interact with these little creatures. I am constantly looking for them. When I go and get water from any creek bed. I have been able to see at least one or 2 a day.
There are two things that I am constantly looking out for besides the two above. They are poison plants, ivy and oak to name two. The other thing is snakes. Other hikers have been telling us about seeing rattle snakes. Whatever Works and Lambo have been told to only wear one ear bud to listen to their music. We haven’t seen any rattlers, but we did see this rat snake sunning it’s self on a log. It was at least six feet in length with a two inch diameter. This snake isn’t dangerous, but Whatever Works was wishing I hadn’t shown her.
The internal stuff can be as simple as, “I hope I’m still on the trail, I haven’t seen a white painted blaze on a tree for sometime. I better not voice my concern to Whatever Works.” Then the tougher ones of why am I out here and what am I to learn from this experience. Then there is the next career and what does it look like. I also think a lot about who else has walked these lands and why. From Native people, to African Americans to Civil War soldiers. Someone said to me yesterday that this soil is so rich because of all the blood spilled on it. What a sad story that tells.
Maybe we need a little more of this rock I see on the trail everyday.
So, I must go to hunt down my next adventure along the AT. I will keep you posted.