Healing In Nature
THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL: A PATHWAY TO RECOVERY FROM SEXUAL VIOLENCE
self. They thought he could be suffering from heat stroke and offered to evacuate us and, if not, to use their phone to call my parents to let them know I was okay.
When I called, I found out that my parents, who were in much distress, had driven hours from their home in Virginia and were almost to my location. I was not surprised; my parents have always been protective. I decided to go with the friendly group of EMS workers. I told them that I had moved camp in the middle of the night due to the storm and that I had left my water bottle back at that site. They insisted on getting it for me and returned with a water bottle that was not mine. To the person whom I accidentally acquired a water bottle from, I hope you found mine. With all the commotion, I left my food bag in the tree. To the people who find it, I hope it offers some relief on your journey. We all got in the four-wheeler, Sailor included and held on for a rough couple of miles till we reached the ambulance. Once in the ambulance, they told me they were meeting my parents at a service road. During the drive, we talked about how this was the second rescue call of the day and was much more joyful than the one prior. "We found you," the woman sitting with me in the back of the ambulance replied. Earlier in the day, a man went hiking and took a fall and hurt his knee. He requested help, but that was all. The EMS workers heard from his wife that he had made it safely off the trail. I told her why I was hiking the AT and about my thesis project, which she admired. I realized I could have opened up more about the specifics of my project as she commented on how healing nature could be in recovering from trauma. The ambulance pulled into a parking space by the service road, and sitting before us were my dedicated parents. I thanked the EMS workers for their time and help, and they reassured me that this was on them and that I would not have an ambulance fee. I was thankful that such genuine humans existed. Three days in the wilderness with Sailor allowed me to realize that this was not his journey, it was only mine, and with the high temperatures, it would be best for me to carry on alone. I had chosen to be around Crab Tree Falls to ensure that a constant water supply would be available. However, with only one person to consider in this equation, I decided to change my agenda. I wanted to complete the whole Shenandoah National Park section of the trail, and with only myself to think about, I rerouted my plans. I was transported to Rockfish Gap Entrance Station, the southern entry point to the Shenandoah National Park. It was not until four years later that the trauma from the child sexual abuse (CSA) I experienced when I was 15 resurfaced. It was October. I was a sophomore in college and was with friends at a fraternity party on campus. He was a junior and played lacrosse for the college. We had some classes together but never had any conversation. We saw each other at the party, a conversation ignited, and towards the end of the night, we returned to my dorm together. We both had been drinking, but I remember everything that happened; my mind was clear. And when I said no, I did not want to have sex, he did not take no for an answer.
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