Healing In Nature
THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL: A PATHWAY TO RECOVERY FROM SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Those were the first words she ever said to me. Later that night, she walked down to where I was sitting, visiting with other hikers. She looked at me, "I always wanted to do this; I'm nervous," she said. In her hand was a bag of trail magic, and I was her first hiker to give trail magic to nuts, raisins, tea bags, and a peach. Amazing. The graduate student I had met earlier gave me her phone number, and I texted her when I reached Loft Mountain. I told her I had gotten sick and had been there for two days. The next morning, Susan picked me up at the camp store to take me to an urgent care nearby. After greeting me, she first said, "Well, in the real world, Roe vs. Wade was overturned today." The Supreme Court's decision to overturn a constitutional right for women to have control of their bodies and have access to safe abortions broke fifty years of legal protection. "How can they do that?" I asked. Knowing Susan
Susan then informed me they were reconsidering other landmark decisions, such as same-sex marriage and contraception access. Human's toxic need to possess and control others reveals itself from the playground to the supreme court. At that moment, we both wanted to be back in the woods, away from the toxicity of society. She took me to the doctor; strep throat was the diagnosis, and then to pick up antibiotics at a pharmacy in Target. She was going to buy me a coffee, but luckily the pharmacist was at lunch, so I found her and bought her one instead. On the way back to the trail, we took many wrong turns. We were both happy about that as it meant we had longer to speak with each other. She was driving the Skyline drive for as long as she could back to her home in Pennsylvania. She intended to stop at places along the trail to spread trail magic. She had Rice Krispy treats and two gallons of water in her car. Giving back to others is what kept us going out there. It is what keeps us all going, always. I asked the question, and we both dove into it. I told her I wanted to build a connection before talking about such a sensitive subject, and she told me she was perfectly open to talking to people who understood. Susan's life changed the night she was drugged and raped at an off-campus party while she was visiting a friend who was a student at the university. She told me how she found healing in nature after the sexual assault and how she realized she had never pursued the outdoors as much before.
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