Monday, June 26, 2017

Pamola's Quest

The Quest

Those of you who have been following LoGear and I on our Adventures, know that we have taken on a Quest.  The Quest for Pamola it is called and this is what it is about.

Pamola is a storm god who lives in Katahdin.  He came to me and offered this Quest.  He challenged me to walk the whole of the Appalachian Trail.  When I have done that, I'm to come to Pamola Peak on Mount Katahdin and present the Talisman of the Storm to him.  If I am found worthy, I will be granted a boon.  

The Quest is as simple as that.  Walk almost 2200 miles, finish the trek, then continue on across the Knife's Edge to Pamola Peak.  The idea is simple, but the trek is not an easy feat, as Phase I has shown us.  

The Challenge Becomes Hard

When we took on this Quest, we decided to start down at the southern end and see how far north we could get during this season of hiking.  We hoped that maybe we would be able to continue along the trail from one end to the other in one try, but we were not obsessed with getting the Quest complete in one long stage.  

We found out that total dedication to this one task becomes hard after a while.  Even though our bodies were doing pretty well, our minds started to pick at us.  Whispering sweet temptations into our brains of other things that we could be doing.  

For LoGear, the temptation was to get back and see her girls.  She started missing them more than ever and just wanted to see them and talk to them in person.  It started to wear on her until the time when we stopped for lunch and I asked her if she wanted to go home and her answer was yes.  We contacted Miss Janet and like the angel she is, we were whisked off the trail to the nearest bus station and LoGear headed home.

My shelter register entry on Day 35

I decided to continue on. At least for a while.  At first I thought I would be able to go on for a long way.  I thought that it would be easier if I only had myself to worry about and not have to worry about my girls at home, handling all the day to day stuff which continues to happen, even if we aren't there.  I also thought it would be easier to hike solo, checking only with myself if I wanted to continue on, or set up camp right where I was.  I had gone out alone several times in the past.  I felt free at first, but my mind is weak.

After a few days, I started to really miss seeing LoGear up ahead of me.  Never too far away. Always nearby.  A loneliness started to creep in and then started to whisper in my brain.  I decided that maybe I would make it to Damascus and declare Phase I of the Quest complete.  I would go home and spend some time doing something besides walking all day, every day.  I had a strong feeling that, before too long, we would be back on the trail again.  

My day 40 entry at the last shelter before Damascus.  

So, I made my way back to Maryland after finishing the lower three states in their entirety.  I have spent some quality time opening my pool, tending my small garden, walking my dog in the nearby woods, visiting the beach, watching TV, playing on my computer and doing other things that I couldn't when my only task of the day was to walk for several hours each day.

But I was right about the Trail not being finished with us yet this year.  Before very long, the whisper in my brain started telling me, it was time to get back on trail.  It started telling LoGear the same thing.  

The Talisman of the Storm

As the details of the Quest were slowly revealed to me in my dreams and imaginings, I learned that I would have a task to complete during this Quest.  I would be gathering items that would come together and create a Talisman.  It is to be called the Talisman of the Storm.  

I started with a few things I had at home.  I small rawhide pouch I had made.  A glass ladybug that was given to me when I finished up at the A.T. Museum.  A small pebble that I picked up in the woods near our house that would be exchanged with a small pebble from Springer that would start the building of the Talisman.  I also had a 20 sided die that would come along as part of the Talisman.

The way it would work would be as such.  Items would present themselves to me to be included as part of the Talisman.  I would know when the right item was presented.  At least I hoped I would know.  

As each item was added, the Talisman would grow stronger, more powerful.  When it reached its full power, it would be a mighty item. 

As we started our Quest and came upon Springer Mountain, I started looking for the right piece for the Talisman.  All I knew is that the piece would sparkle some.  I found a nice pebble that was full of mica, making it sparkle in the sun a bit and knew it was the correct, first piece.  I placed the stone I had brought with me near the first blaze and took this first piece with me.  

On day 10 or so, we had entered North Carolina and another mica filled stone presented itself to me and was added to the Talisman.  

On day 18, when we were headed into the Smoky Mountains, we came across a pair of boots filled with pebbles in honor of a man who never got the chance to hike the whole trail.  We added one of these to the Talisman.

On Day 20, LoGear found a small arrowhead shaped stone and it was added to represent TN.  The next day, I added a small piece of quartz from the resting area at Clingman's Dome, the highest point of the Trail.

When LoGear left the trail, she handed me her small bracelet that I had made her to match one I wore.  I put it on my wrist, thinking that this little piece of her would continue on along the trail with me.  As I walked along alone, I realized that this bracelet was now a piece of the Talisman.  I also came to the realization that "I" was the Talisman, not just the pouch and its contents.  All that I wore and carried with me was becoming a part of the Talisman of the Storm.  It was an amazing feeling.  

The building of the Talisman had begun.  The other day as we were walking along the beach in West Cape May, famous for its Cape May Diamonds, I spotted a nice small, polished one and it too was added to the Talisman to represent our Intermission.

The Talisman continues to grow and become more powerful.  I don't know if I will be able to control the weather with this Talisman, but I will continue to create it as our Quest continues.  

The Quest Evolves

When I decided to get off trail for awhile, I realized that this Quest will most likely not be completed in one long trek.  I always had a strong feeling that that was the stronger possibility, but I didn't dwell on that very much until the reality of it became clear.  From the start I thought of the Quest of nothing more than a series of sections (what I am calling Pushes) from one resupply to the next.  I would plan each Push a day or two before it started and never worried about what came after that.  When the Push was almost complete, I would start planning the next.  It started to become a fun exercise.

When I decided to get off trail, I realized that these first three states (9 Pushes) were going to be Phase I of the Quest.  I also realized that the quest had evolved.  My task is to complete the trail.  Pamola never said I had to do it from Georgia to Maine in that order and all in one trek.  He just said I had to walk the whole trail.  

With Phase I complete, I was free to plan the next Phase any way I wanted. I realized that I could incorporate the 300 plus miles I have already hiked on the Trail over the last six years into the Quest.  I could take my time off and come back wherever and whenever I wanted, to continue the task of walking the whole trail.  This is how I am going to continue the Quest.  

In ten days, we will head back to the Trail. Not where we got off (since that is two different places), but at a point of our choosing.  We are going to complete a Push that is the Shenandoah National Park (Push #14).  We are going to drive to the northern end and get a shuttle down to Rockfish Gap.  We will then hike back to the truck, which is the spot that LoGear and I stopped back in 2012.  We are skipping the four Pushes of VA that we would have covered in this time if we would have continued on and stayed on schedule. Hopefully we will see some of our Tramily that were hiking around us down south.  They most likely will be further along, but you never know.  Once we reach Front Royal, we will take another couple of weeks worth of zeros, then pick up in PA at Lehigh Gap and continue north from there for a few more weeks.  That is where I stopped on one of my earlier hikes.  We will skip the miles that I have already hiked in VA, WV, MD and PA.  We will continue up into the north for a couple more weeks.  These two hikes will be called Phase II.

So the Quest continues...

LoGear looks out into the foggy view

The Pushes of the Quest

In my next post I will present a general summary of the Nine Pushes I completed in Phase I. A Push is the part of the trail between major resupplies.  A new Push starts when you head out with your pack heavy and the trail most likely a climb out of a gap or town. 

EarthTone and LoGear

No comments: