Healing In Nature
THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL: A PATHWAY TO RECOVERY FROM SEXUAL VIOLENCE
When he decided to swim again, I bathed in the stream using my wilderness soap. We stayed at camp for a couple of hours. I took time to write in my journal and reflect on the journey ahead of me. Sailor did not want to leave, but eventually, he knew it was time to go. I packed up camp, put on Sailor's empty pack and my full one, and we took off. On the hike, we stopped by a creek, and Sailor swam. I pulled out my camp chair and book and began to read; however, that didn't last long as Sailor started running off into the woods, chasing a deer.
We saw a sign for the 'Priest Shelter around three o'clock.' It was about a mile off the trail, but it was hot outside, and I needed to refill our water supply. A mile downhill, we came across an old shelter, and a group of five young men were lying down. After a few minutes of aimlessly looking around me, a voice asked if I was looking for the water and gently pointed me in that direction. I thanked them and headed down to the potable water. While I was filling up and filtering the water, Sailor decided to take the opportunity to trot around in the water supply; not ideal, but I let him. When I got back up to the shelter area, I was fumbling around with my Smart water bottle and filter when I decided to converse with the other hikers. I asked them if they could show me how to work the Smart water filter system. Suddenly, the quiet voices that greeted me took a light turn. One attempted to explain the technique of filling one Smart water bottle with dirty water and keeping the filter on the clean one, allowing you to drink directly from the supply. "Show her how to do it!" another voice popped in, and the first man walked towards me to help. I asked if they were thru-hiking the AT, and they said yes. After I shared with them that I was only a section hiker who had started a few days prior, I watched as their competitive nature rose to the surface. They stated they had been trying to hike up to twenty miles a day, had all started as solo hikers, and had met each other along the way. Shortly after, a young woman walked down the hill to the shelter."You made it!" one of the men said to the women. The woman then talked about how her friend, who she had been hiking with, texted her recently and confessed that she did not know if she could keep doing this. The exhaustion showed clearly on each one of their faces. Meanwhile, Sailor had crawled under the shelter and dug a mud hole to lie there. And he did lay there for hours. I tried to get him to come out, using praise and encouragement, but he had none. I was aware I could not forcibly pull him out from under the shelter, as I felt that might constitute animal abuse to the onlookers. We stayed, and we rested. After some time, the five young men picked up their packs and continued. They mentioned trying to make it to a creek about seven miles north to set up camp for the night and invited me to camp with them if I
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