I don’t claim to know everything about love and marriage, as Mr. Dirty could certainly confirm. I absolutely do not know everything about hiking (even if it is just walking which I have been doing for most of my life). I may not know it all, but I am willing to learn!
Life presents us with moments that mark our souls, and we learn so much about who we are and who we can be. If we open our eyes, even a trail in the woods can be a teacher.
Over Spring Break (yes, I realize that was almost 2 months ago!), Mr. Dirty & I took the Dirty Boy for a hike on the AT – from Cooper Gap to Neels Gap. Getting to the trail proved to be the biggest challenge: we were hit by drunk driver who fled the scene.
Lesson #1: Hiking isn’t THAT important. I know that might be earth shattering news, but it’s actually true. The safety of my family was the most important consideration. Hiking could wait… at least for a few days.
Lesson #2: Sharing the trials of the trail will make or break a relationship. I’ve read enough trail journals and watched enough documentaries from the trail to know that not every relationship survives the trail. Friends, relatives, and lovers find their relationships destroyed on the trail because you can’t hide your ugly bits on the trail. Fortunately, Mr. Dirty has long since learned to live with my ugly bits, so when I get unbearable, he still loves me.
Lesson #3: Support comes in many forms. Mr. Dirty & I support each other along the trail in many ways. We share the workload by dividing camp chores. We encourage each other – genuinely, sarcastically, and competitively. We are fortunate that we both enjoy and are physically capable of hiking. Not every couple is that lucky. On the trail, we met Sherpa Mom. She was hiking the trail, and her husband was following in their RV to offer trail support. What love!
Lesson #3: You find out what your children are made of when you let them go. This is a hard lesson to learn (I say is rather than was because I haven’t quite got the hang of it). It was obvious that we were moving too slow for the Dirty Boy. He was like a dog pulling on the leash! So, we let him run wild and free. He ran – literally, not figuratively – up and down the trail and over the top of Blood Mountain… barefoot. He visited with other hikers, took pictures, and enjoyed the trail in ways that he never would have if he had remained shackled to his slothful parents. This should make letting go of the Dirty Offpring a little easier… so they say.
Lesson #4: Its important to watch each other’s back. (This lesson goes out to Cousin Phil who said he couldn’t wait until I talked about poop… here ya go, Phil). Pooping on, er along… please don’t poop on the trail, can be risky business. There are all sorts of disasters that can befall you once you squat: bugs, snakes, poison ivy, bears… just to name a few! Mr. Dirty & I stand guard for each other at the privvies (composting type toilets at shelters, usually without doors). No one likes to be interrupted while on the throne, nor do you want to interrupt someone who is on the throne. When we are without a privvy, we’ve found it helpful to watch each other’s back (figuratively, not literally… that would be gross). The things you do for the one you love!!