Healing In Nature


To work to healing, I forgave myself for not wanting to press legal charges, understanding it was my decision not to do so. I let myself feel emotions of sadness, loss, anger, and grief in the sexual trauma that was out of my control and took accountability for my self-destructive behavior and how it not only affected my life but could have affected others. I found healing surrounded by the trees and sitting by still and running water. Free, the natural world was an escape from anything that weighed too heavy on my soul. Blackburn Trail Center is a cabin owned by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, about a quarter mile off the AT. A caretaker stayed on the property and was gardening when I walked in. He welcomed me to stay as long as I wanted and pointed in the direction of the cabin if I wanted to stay the night. Lawn chairs covered the front patio area, and I decided to stay the night and would wake to a trip downhill to take a solar shower available to hikers.

A long bridge that crosses the Potomac River leads to the ATC Headquarters in Harper's Ferry. I arrived late that afternoon after they had already closed for the day. It had started to pour rain in the last hour, and I was well drenched. Two other hikers were standing under the roof; they were waiting for a ride from a friend. They offered me a ride into town.

Bear I sat outside at a tavern, across from two other women with their packs next to them. It was a hiker-friendly place. My waitress was a young woman who went by "Coco." She asked me my trail name, and I told her I was only section hiking for a graduate school project and had yet to receive one. She listened as I told her why I was out there and stated that after serving so many hikers, she wanted to be hiking herself. She told me I needed a trail name and that she would think about it and come back with one. I laughed, ordered food, and enjoyed the view of the taint town. I was finishing my dinner and waiting for my check when the waitress returned, "Bear, your name is Bear." Taken back by her words, I had forgotten she would give me a trail name. She continued, "Bear, because of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Bears are independent and you're hiking alone for three weeks and you have blonde hair." I was sold, "Bear" it was. She gave me my check with a complimentary ice cream sandwich.

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