The Bare Earth

It is getting close to 3/27 , the first anniversary of starting my Appalachian Trail thru-hike .

A couple of days ago, I was back on the Uncle Tom trail, a local path through the forest right here in Maine . I took my snow shoes with me, as there was still two to three feet of snow in the woods. As I ascended up through the first pasture, I glimpsed areas that were actually clear of snow, an amazing occurrence this record breaking snowfall year, and the product of favorable drift patterns and the effects of the southern exposure. We haven’t seen bare ground around here since early November, when were were hit by the first of what have been unrelenting snow storms.

I moved over to the woods road that had at least two feet of snow covering it, my snow shoes still tucked under my arm. I kept expecting to drop through the crust, but the base here had been lying so long under the weight of the now melted/evaporated cover that it was like concrete.

I left the snow shoes on the trail where I would gather them up on the way back home. I was able to proceed without them, right up to the top of Moody Mountain , as I tentatively, but successfully crunched my path skyward.

Right near the summit, surrounded by ancient gnarled spruce and birch, lay a singular bare patch of ground, some six feet long and four feet wide. It resembled a plot from a grave yard. I was momentarily stilled to have these unsettled thoughts and feelings well up, to have my own transience surface. I thought soberingly , “Some day, for me.”

As I stepped past the snow pack onto the plot, it hit me that this was the first time since even before Thanksgiving that I was able to place my aching feet on bare earth. That moment, all felt so correct. I knew that more of this is what I achingly crave.

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