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  • Trail Update: The Red Dirt Path

    July 10, 2023

    Trail Update: The Red Dirt Path

    Journey Man and I hitched back to trail and started our walk down the red dirt path. Surrounded by pines and green undergrowth, it felt like we were hiking on a whole new trail! It was refreshing not to have my foot slip with every step. My mind could wander as I walked rather than needing complete concentration as I moved down the trail.

    Despite the flat grade and relatively soft dirt, the bottom of my feet were soon sore. My shoulder straps cut down into my back. I checked my watch often enough to get a little frustrated because time was going by so slowly. 

    Six miles into the day, we arrived at a junction to Burney Falls. We turned down the path and took a scenic loop trail that descended down to the water. The path was shaded and the trees were draped on emerald colored moss. We approached the falls and were welcomed with a gloriously cool mist. Journey Man and I found a spot away from other visitors and I carefully unwrapped a ball of tinfoil to uncover my leftover pizza rolls—a delicious treat for lunch. 

    My frustration melted away as the food settled into my stomach and I took in the sight. The falls towered over us; strong water tumbled downwards over moss covered boulders. Journey Man and I pointed out different paths along which the water cascaded. “Do you ever try to watch one water drop travel from the top to the bottom of the falls?” he asked. I squinted up into a ray of light and caught a drop as it leapt from the upper ledge. It fell and still I held it in my sight, or I thought I did. It quickly folded in with the rest of the falling water. I tried following a few more drops to no avail. I sat back and closed my eyes for a moment, soaking in the mist droplets that landed on my face and hair instead. 

    Journey Man and I hung out by the falls for a couple hours. Getting back on trail was tough, but Burney Falls served as a good reminder of the blessings the Trail provides whether it’s along the red line or a detour off of it.


    After receiving some sad news from a good friend last night, I woke up feeling down. I whole Journey Man up to watch the sunset, but snuggled back into my quilt. The wind blew across the ridge where we camped and the wildflowers swayed back and forth. The three others in our group packed up their tents and started their hike, but still I remained in my bed. 

    I knew I had to get the day started, so I changed into my hiking clothes and got out of the tent to filter water. Journey Man wrapped his arms around me for a tight embrace when he noticed the tears in my eyes. I tried to rush through the rest of the morning chores, but Journey Man sat down and started a pot of coffee. “Let’s enjoy the morning,” he said. I started to protest—it was gonna be a scorcher and I knew we needed to get going—but he shook his head. We sat and drank hot coffee and ate breakfast before heading out.

    For the rest of the day, I didn’t think about mileage or my pace; I just felt. I breathed through the suffocating heat and felt the sweat drip down the back of my knees. Since we started late, had a climb and long stretch of blowdowns in the heat of the day, we had only gone twelve miles by the time we got to a water source at 3pm. I walked into a grove of pines and spread out my tarp. I laid down and looked up at the trees towering over me. I watched the insects hovering in the air and listened to the birdsongs. I noticed the leaf light glimmering as the light breeze shook the branches. I felt so content, I got visible goosebumps. 

    One of my favorite parts of thru hiking is the freedom to take space, reflect, process and be present.

    - Mantis

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