Today was filled with many views and many voices. Some the sing-song kind of our feathered friends, others the chit-chattering of fellow humans. I amongst them at times. I move quickly but not swiftly. Making that shift of weight to my pack from my mind. Climbing and descending. Now and again pausing to spot a Ladybug, lift a remarkable stone from my path, or observe a flower not familiar. To stop suddenly in acknowledgement of the cool sweet mountain breeze. It livens the skin. Nothing feels sweeter.
Visitors to these woods is what we are. We hope to be welcomed guests for a season or two. But our voices can’t help but seem unnatural. The hauntingly graceful humming of the woods as echoed by the mountains is best appreciated in silence. Silence is what I have at this moment. Stillness is what I embody as life delicately dances about me.
It is spectacular.
The bird calls emanate from all directions. They start soft and grow louder with repitition. Now an owl calls deeply from the North. I can faintly hear the stream where I gathered my water. Just 1/10 of a mile South it slides gracefully down the mountain, cool and clear and confident. It cascades over the stones into the sea of green and brown. The trees are each so unique. A potpourri of textures and shades and sizes .Embracing one another, as if holding hands with their long limbs and curling tendrils. The sky is turning pink in the distance, creating grand mountainous silhouettes. I reach out and press my palm against a nearby tree. I am grounded.
I will sleep on the Earth beneath the stars tonight. The Moon is waxing, nearly full. The forest will stir and glow.
I watch the countryside glide by. It is all so new to me. I have never traveled this far East in the USA.
Post PCT and penniless, I decided to move to New Orleans, LA on November 30th 2016 to live the city-life and make money through the winter. I volunteered for free accommodation (which has been a cornerstone to making my travelling lifestyle possible) at Madame Isabelle’s House (a hostel) in Marigny, just outside of the French Quarter; and the Louisianna Himalaya Association (LHA) in Mid-City. Living this way continues to open up opportunities for saving, as well as exercise my strength in social adaptability (which is, well…uh: exhausted at this point). I managed to balance my volunteer work along with some paying gigs, both situated in the French Quarter: a gift shop on Decatur during the day, and serving cocktails on Bourbon in the evenings. Quite the experience catering to both the tourists and the thirsty-folk alike. Two things that make the local economy go ’round.
Bourbon is hands down unlike any other space for existence (or non-existence) I have ever experienced. It is like stepping in to another reality where everyone is drunk or intending to be or is intending to make money off of those intentions. It does not smell like roses. You may get hit by a string of beads. There is no car traffic down Bourbon, just people…literal hoards of people. You may get trampled or elbowed. Open containers are allowed on the street…often encouraged. There is no easy way to recycle glass, and plastic to-go cups are the go-to (so you can leave the bar at a whim and take your drink with you, of course). The waste is devistating.
The rest of the Quarter is quaint. I especially enjoyed strolling down Royal Street. It is littered with musical talent. Oh, the brass.
In short: New Orleans is unlawfully charming, quirky, beautiful, unique, and soaked in liquor.
But now. Now I am on a train to Georgia. Tomorrow. On May 3rd. One year after I began my venture from Mexico to Canada along the PCT, I will begin my solo thru-hike from Georgia to Maine!