This holidays, since I’m still not working, I travelled all over and had a great time seeing everyone. Firstly I went to Philly, then State College and finally a solo backpacking trip on the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail. I’ll briefly tell y’all about all my trips and show some pictures.
Philly was nice, I saw all the friends I had hoped to and updated them all about my news of going on hormones and that (starting this Friday!). I also got to tell my Aunt and Uncle I was transitioning who were quite supportive. I even got to see a good friend from my first year of college and spent the solstice sunrise with her.
I spent the solstice in Philadelphia and spent most of my time in a brick cabin of sorts called “the compound” owned by Half Dread. It has a rain water collection system, electricity and a wood fire to heat it. The day of the solstice I spent time at Philly Aids Thrift and lots of time meditating in the sun. That evening I was with Guac for a while and even got to see Juju briefly. Anxiety overtook me that night and when I saw the sunset I felt myself working through and flushing out old problems. It was a cathartic experience and has made me exciting for 2015 a year of powerful enlightenment, awakening and openness.
Next was State College. I saw mostly my immediate family, it was especially nice to have my brother there. He missed x-mas last year, which while it’s not an important holiday for most of us it felt like the conscious choice of work over family. My family worked on calling me my new taken name and worked a little on using female pronouns too. This felt validating as though I was transforming into a woman in their eyes, and in my own.
My final trip was to hike along the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail (LHHT). It’s the same trail that I hiked over Thanksgiving and I was happy to hike it again. This was the most intense of all the experiences. Including two opposite by equally astounding experiences.
The first being hiking two days to come upon a winter paradise. Suddenly there are houses covered in snow, even their roofs (there was no snow to be seen where I was hiking). People are skiing from house to house and then I see a ski lift. I’m at Seven Springs Ski Resort. I laugh and take a silly selfie and continue hiking. Whereupon I realize this is only the beginning, the LHHT cuts directly across multiple ski slopes. From serene woods to dodging skiers and snowboarders. I hike across the slopes taking a couple of pictures as I laugh at the insanity of what I am doing. Finally after 20 minutes in this winter paradise I quietly return to the woods.
Now my third and final day. I decided that morning to cut my trip short early because there is freezing rain, I forgot my rain pants and I’m running low on food. I spent the day wandering adjacent trails in Forbes State Forest. The weather is beautiful with everything coated in a thin layer of ice. After hiking for several miles I realize I want to bike back to my car (I dropped of a bike two days hike out so I could ride back to my car). I also realize that I am lost and can’t comprehend where I am on the map. Luckily I see my footprints in the ice and simply retrace them. Three miles later I make it back to my bike and realize I have 20 miles left to bike.
At this point I am tired and woozy and have been for the last two miles of hiking. I eat two chocolate bars and start biking. First I bike down Laurel Hill, peak elevation 2,994ft, on Route 31. Next I bike up and down a series of hills on some back roads before turning onto Route 653. At this point I am exhausted and my pants are drenched, I can even feel the water sloshing around in my boots. I reach pinnacle after pinnacle as I climb the mountain where I parked my car. Having just read Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron (I’ll talk more about this soon) I try to stay focused on the present and not let my mind wander.
This experience is wet, exhausted and laden with mild muscle pain. Not as bad as I imagined. The whole experience was actually beautiful, being present in the now even if it is miserable it calming and fun. After miles up hill I start seeing fog and familiar signs. I make it to the summit in a state of serene peace. I was very present and remained so the following day.
A wonderful end to my trips and a great memory to have as I embark on my job search and continued quest for my true self.