April 23, 2017
While recuperating from my broken collarbone at Merchant’s Millpond State Park, Jay and I met a couple from Quebec. Robert and Liliana were camping from the back of a motorcycle, a feat which aroused my admiration. They, in turn, were intrigued with our goal of walking 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. We enjoyed a morning of conversation, with a smattering of French, lots of slowly spoken English, and a great deal of mime to help bridge the language challenge.
At one point our talk touched upon my broken collarbone, and my determination to continue hiking. Robert told me, “I don’t know the English words, but we say there is a fine line between ‘acharnement’ and ‘entetement’.”
That sparked a lively discussion as we endeavored to puzzle out the English equivalents. For ‘acharnement’, Robert came up with the cognate, ‘perseverance’, which led Jay to contribute the word ‘persistence’. As we wrestled with the word ‘entetement’, Jay and Robert thought perhaps the word ‘stubborn’ might be the translation, but was there a better word? Liliana and I looked at each other, and spoke on the same breath, “Pig-headed!” “Tete de cochon,” Liliana added, laughing.
That conversation has stuck with me these past nine days as I hiked with my arm in a sling and only one usable shoulder strap on my pack. In order to finish 2,000+ miles in one hiker season, one MUST be persistent. But when does persistence change to pig-headed stubbornness? Many of my family and friends think I am risking too much by hiking after only two weeks of recuperation. And yet, I am following the collective knowledge of our years of hiking experience, and the wisdom of our doctor. (“Do I think you will spend the next weeks doing nothing? Not in a million years! Just limit your mobility, add activities slowly, the way I’ve shown you, and DON’T FALL!”)
Jay and I have hiked 85 miles in the past nine days, dawdling at viewpoints, ambling through flower-strewn forest, picking and eating ramps (a wild-growing Appalachian delicacy), and just taking our time. Daily my collarbone and shoulder have hurt less and become more mobile. It has been exciting to feel it healing while experiencing the beauty of spring and know I am still making small progress upon my self-imposed goal of hiking the AT.
So, to all my friends and family who have told me, “Be careful, be safe, take care, don’t risk,”… thank you from the bottom of my heart for your concern and love. I feel very lucky to have such caring people around me! However, I think of my last words with Liliana, and I know, “It’s time to CHOOSE LIFE!”