Sunday, January 10, 2010

A cry far from the trail

We finished the trail several months ago now, and it's taken me this long to grapple with the identity of this blog. When we started out, I thought we'd use this journal as a look at our lives "before, during and after the trail". I thought we might have emotions and anecdotes to share about our transition to real life. This also would be an appropriate forum to reflect on the trip.

But it turns out, life in the city is hectic. Experiences here seem so far removed, and so petty, compared to our journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. What could I possibly say about riding the subway with inconsiderate teenagers that would merit a post on this special collection of memories?

And then Chris and I went on an evening snowshoe through the Arnold Arboretum, just down the street from us. Boston has been blessed with a beautiful, brisk winter so far. After the most recent snow storm, we set out on a jaunt in this lovely local treasure. It's quiet at night, except for the white noise of traffic humming on nearby streets. The city light pollution reflecting off the snow was more than bright enough for us to navigate. We swished our way through the crusty snow, already blemished with footprints and cross-country ski tracks.

I thought I was hearing things when an owlish throaty hoot caught my ear over the squeak and crunch of the snow. "Shhhh." We stopped. Nothing. Continued on. "ShhhHH!" Stopped again. And there it was, clear as an elk whistle near Mt. Rainier or a coyote whine in the High Sierra. An owl in the middle of the city! It hooted some more, and then swooped off its branch and silently sailed over our heads and out of sight.

We miss the trail every day. Life flies by as we juggle jobs (new and old), geriatric pet care and making up for lost time with our beloved friends and families. Getting outside and moving through trees, breathing fresh air especially makes us pine for the singular purpose that a long-distance thru-hike provides. But our brush with the owl, whatever species it was, brings me some peace knowing that there are still moments of wonder in our natural world no matter where you're living.