I’m Coming Back…I Promise.

I’ve been seriously slacking in the blogging department since returning from our thru-hike. There’s a trail of excuses that I could list including catching up with family and friends, apartment hunting, working, lack of internet, going back and forth between Bucksport and Portland, getting my photography business back up and running, moving into an apartment, internet malfunctioning, and well, you get the point. Life.

Despite my lack of writing, my brain is still wired to type on my tiny iPhone keyboard every night. Then, I don’t do it for one reason or another and it truly makes me sad. I wrote EVERY night for five months and now I find myself too busy to devote an hour or so of my time even once a week to write about my life post-AT. On the trail I would write even when I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was sleep. But I knew that I couldn’t get behind on my posts. Every single day was a journey within itself and waiting even a few days to write about it would diffuse some of those memories. Not only did I want my journey to be captivating and detailed for all of you, but for my future self when I could read about each and every day on the trail as if it was yesterday. I never want to forget about our hike and everything that we encountered while on the most rewarding and difficult five months of our lives thus far.

Some days I’m reminded of the AT a bit and sometimes a lot. It’s been 2 months and 3 days since we summited Katahdin. That time has passed by at lightning speed. As we settle into our life here in Portland, I find myself starting to think about the next big journey in my life. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I always need something “big” on the horizon. I’m thinking Europe or West Coast. Not sure when, where, or if it will involve backpacking, but I think there’ s a strong chance it will. I would love to pursue a multimedia documentation of whatever I do. Video, photography, and writing are all things that I love and what I hope to continue pursuing down the road.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about discussing writing beyond my blog (i.e. writing a book), but we’re all friends here, right? We tell each other everything, like that time I told you about how I crossed a raging stream and cried or the day I tripped over my own two feet. I’ve had several people ask me if I’ve thought about publishing a book about our hike. At first, it was my parents. I know that they wouldn’t lie to me, they’re not the type of parents who think their kids are perfect at everything that they do. They’re awesome and supportive, but they wouldn’t just tell me that unless they were serious. But then people I didn’t even know started telling me that and that’s when it became a very serious consideration in my mind. There have been many, many books written about thru-hiking, I know absolutely nothing about publishing, and let’s not get started on the fact that I’ve never even written a book. But, if there’s anything that I’ve learned this year, it’s that there’s a first for everything and you’ve got to take risks if you want to get where you really want to go. Most books that I’ve seen out there about thru-hiking are written by men who hike the trail alone. Which makes sense since they make up the majority of thru-hikers. Maybe I have something different to offer as a female thru-hiker in a hiking duo that it made it all the way to Maine and still liked each other?

When I was a kid, I would always go back and forth between wanting to be an author or an artist when I was older. I’ve always loved to write and to draw. The drawing part never worked out too well, so don’t expect any illustrations to accompany this book if it ever does come into form, but I eventually defined myself as an artist in a different category: photography. I’ve been busy upon my return as a portrait photographer for Tandem Studios, which my sister and I began last year. We’ve done several shoots already and have a busy month ahead, which is very exciting for us. As much as I loved thru-hiking, I truly missed my work as a photographer while I was gone. And I’m writing tonight, at this very late hour because I’ve really really missed writing. I’ve made my excuses for too long. I’m back. And I’m here to stay. I always thought I was the type of person who didn’t know what they wanted to do. I never saw myself sitting in a cubicle all day or even working for someone else. But, as fantastical as my childhood dreams to be an author and an artist may have seemed, it appears they were not too far off. Now I know that it meant I was to be a blogger and a photographic artist. I know now more than ever that I want to be my own boss and do what I love. I may not be rich, but I will be spending my days doing what I love. And that’s what matters. Time only further defines our dreams.

From one of my latest shoots.

From one of my latest shoots.

Although I’ve taken a longer than expected hiatus from blogging, I haven’t spent that time fully removed from Dirigo Bound. I’m bursting with ideas for upcoming posts. And with prime NOBO season coming up in less than five months I can’t help but want to post someone useful information for those of you who are starting a thru-hike next year or are considering one in future years beyond 2014. Reading about other people’s experiences helped me immensely, so I can’t help but want to give back to the thru-hiking community as much as possible. I’ll give you all an inside look in to my brainstorming for future posts, ones that I’ve mentioned before and some new ideas.

Q+A (anyone who has written to me with questions, I have them all written down, so don’t worry, your questions will be answered!)

Avery-MacKaye Awards: This is a compilation of the best and worst from my monthly overviews. I’m still deciding which after-party I want to go attend after the show.

Gear Review. This was one of my favorite things to look at on other hikers’ blogs, so needless to say, I’m pretty excited to write one of my own.

All About the Food. Can’t say I miss my morning Pop-Tarts, but if you’re interested in what we ate, I’ll be sure to write about it.

Photos. My plan is to add a link at the top of the blog to photos I took with my Canon S90. I couldn’t upload these while on the trail, so now’s the time to add those in.

Videos. I took several videos along the way that I’ve finally had the time to watch. Maybe I’ll share a few with all of you. Think norovirus, bad singing, and leaping cats.

Post-AT Adventures. My life may not be as captivating as it was a couple of months ago, but with a 2013 thru-hiker reunion in Portland in the works before the end of the year and some trail magic next year, I hope to continue writing about how the AT is an ever-present force in our lives.

I know more ideas will come to me as the days, weeks, and months pass. And I’m open to suggestions from you, my loyal followers, as to what I should write about in my future posts. Just comment below and I’d be happy to write about anything that you would love to hear more about! And anymore questions for the Q+A are also welcome. Throw ’em at me.

So, remember when I posted the photo of me posing with that beautiful white blaze? There were some good guesses as to where I was that day. No, I couldn’t stay away for long. I was on my way back to Maine after visiting my best friend in the Albany area and going to Farm Aid, when I decided on a whim to take a short hike up Becket Mountain in Lee, MA. From years of driving on the Mass. Pike I knew that the AT crossed there. A few minutes drive off of the pike and I found myself in a parking lot near the trailhead. I hiked to the top of Becket, the highway traffic still audible in the distance. I read the log book on the top and remembering the day we hiked there in late June. It was the day after we stayed at Upper Goose Pond Cabin. We hiked a 20 mile day into Dalton to stay with Miles’ friend, Joe. A thunderstorm hit and it began raining on us just as we made it into town. I passed a SOBO thru-hiker the day I was there in September. He had taken some time off because of a hurt leg. As I headed back to my car I wanted to leave him something at the road, but I had nothing to give him. No food, nothing that a thru-hiker would want. I thought about leaving an encouraging note, but I didn’t think that he wouldn’t want to carry the paper. Lesson learned. Always come prepared as a trail angel when you’re near the AT.

I must say, this post ended up being longer than I expected. My original intention was to write a few sentences and to write of things to come. Nine paragraphs later, I’m still writing. This is what happens when you’re so used to typing on an iPhone and then you finally get to type on a computer. I’m never taking that for granted again.

March 14, 2013. The beginning of it all.

March 14, 2013. The beginning of it all.

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7 thoughts on “I’m Coming Back…I Promise.

  1. Scott ladd says:

    I agree with your parents Write the book don’t worry about the publishing and editing until it’s time.
    You know you are a talented writer, and you have all the trail blogs. This could be a chance to inspire other young women to take a hike and change their lives,(sorry for the guilt trip)

  2. Glenn Gordon says:

    Keep blogging! Really looking forward to your AT year in review. Yes write a book, self publish it on Amazon if you have to. People will read it. Hope the photography business soars. I’m an amateur and after my 2014AT hike hope to do this as a business also. Will look forward to more post. Hike on…

  3. jimfetig says:

    If you write a book, it has to stand out among the many others out there. Think about what hasn’t been written. The perspective of a young couple, their challenges and what they learned about one another is one opportunity you could pursue. One observation I’ve made following thru hikers is that couple who survive the ordeal of a thru hike must come out of it stronger, if they come out as a couple at all. The stresses and strains are just too great for ti to be otherwise. The Barefoot Sisters books offer some interesting insights into how two people (sisters in their case) interact for months on end. You could take that to another level.

  4. Barbara 'Mamaw B" Allen says:

    Leslie, I always looked forward to reading your posts. Some people post and the writing is not very interesting but yours I always looked forward to reading as I felt I was there on the trail with you two. I too have been asked many times about a book but I don’t remember details too well anymore. I encourage you to pursue the writing. There are many people out there who would give you suggestions for publishing. Rainbow and I just attended ALDHA in Shippensburg, PA and I think it would be helpful for you to join ALDHA or at least attend the meeting next year in Massachusetts. You can find the website online. Several published authors and video makers attend and it is exciting to meet other long distance hikers and nonhikers all ages etc. and the cost is minimal. I met hikers I had only heard about previously and shared stories with many people. There were AT hikers and one PCT hiker who had just finished the trails this year in attendance and there is a photo contest and a storytelling event. Many interesting programs are given on other long distance hikes and things related to hiking. I think you could benefit from experiencing this event. Anyway just a few words to let you know I enjoy your writing and encourage you to continue with that angle. Best to both of you.

    Mamaw B

  5. Bill says:

    Go for it. Write a book. Look forward to more.

  6. Bill says:

    Go for it. You are a great writer

  7. rubi5 says:

    Loving your post. Dream on! You manifest so much beauty, energy and down-home connectedness! Thanks for welcoming us to your world again. May your dreams unfold in the extraordinary! Susen

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