Hiking In Between


I’m between assignments. Yesterday was my last official day at Survivors—the domestic violence non-profit where I worked over the past year. Tomorrow is my official start date at the Adams County Library System—the job I hope to keep until I’m ready to move to Moab, Utah when Eli gets out of college. Today is the day that I’m unemployed.

Or maybe I’ve got two jobs, if you want to look at it that way. I’ve already started working at the library. I’ve been in for two orientation meetings. And I’m not done at Survivors, my replacement starts today. I’ve agreed to provide some fairly extensive training—I guess in the evening; we’ve been pretty vague on that point so far.

But today, I have no work responsibilities. No lingering assignments to stress about. Susan’s at work, Sophie and Eli are at school. The day is mine, sort of. Susan asked me if I planned on sleeping-in today. Not possible. There was still the morning routine, waking up Eli, waking up Sophie (eight times) lunches to pack, the drive to school. If I slept in, Susan’s morning would be disrupted. She’d be late for work.

The question I keep hearing: “Why don’t you take some time off between jobs?” I have two weeks of leave time saved up at Survivors, I could totally swing some time off. But right now, I’d prefer the windfall of a vacation pay-out over some lazy days watching alien-movies on Netflix. We’re taking a two-week vacation to France next summer and many of the large trip expenses are hitting right now—airfare and lodging. In the summer when we take the trip, it will be nice to have this stuff already behind us, but for now, the credit card bills are arriving, and wow! are they big.

So, you’re wondering, I’m sure, what do I have planned for my one day off from responsibility? Well, of course there’s this blog post. But my main activity today was a hike. When I decided on this day off two weeks ago, at the top of the list was a trail run. My longest run in two years—I’ve been pushing up my mileage for the past couple of months. I finally gave up on my old running shoes. Old is a relative word. I have a tendency to run on a pair of shoes for a year or eighteen months depending on my mileage. And since every run over the past two years has ended with a calf cramp, I’ve been stringing these shoes along for what feels like forever. Eventually, it occurred to me that possibly it was the shoes that were causing the cramps.

Enter Altra Lone Peak 4.0. Zero drop and an extra-wide toe-box that makes it seem like you’re running barefoot. But they’ve got the most effective rock-plate I’ve ever used; They make even the sharpest rocks feel like carpet. Lot’s of running jargon there. Suffice it to say I love these shoes. With my Lone Peaks, my calves actually feel good after a run. So pushing up my mileage—a half mile or so each week.

But today I couldn’t run. For the first time in a couple of years, I caught a really bad cold. I even missed my second-to-last day of work. Lots of sleep. Chronic coughing fits on the couch. And alien-movies on Netflix. Mostly, I feel better today, but my lungs are full of phlegm. So, no running, but my hike was beautiful. Many people who read my blog and everyone who read my latest book know that I spend most of my running mileage on the horse trails surrounding the Gettysburg Battlefield. It’s not that the trails are necessarily amazing, it’s just really convenient. The Battlefield is literally in my backyard.

AltraThe trails are actually obnoxiously muddy. The first run I took with my Lone Peaks was on the horse trails, and I made a photo montage with before and after shots. Today’s hike was on the battlefield as well. This might sound lazy to you. You might say “C’mon, get out and try something new.”  Not during hunting season! In central Pennsylvania, all the trails are in hunting zones, and they are open for shooting six days a week… except on the battlefield.

Today’s hike was around “Big and Little Round Top.” These two hills are the highest elevation on the battlefield. It’s a steep, rocky trail through sparse, barren woods. There is no mud on the Round Tops, just filtered sunshine and peace. And solitude. I didn’t see a single person for the entire ninety minutes I was out.

Tomorrow, I join the ranks of the employed once more.


14 thoughts on “Hiking In Between

  1. Moving to Moab…a couple weeks in France…sounds super. I bet the trail running in central PA is up there too, just requires a bit more imagination perhaps? I went to school at Penn State and grew up in the Lehigh Valley area, also lived in Pittsburgh/Erie. Happily settled now in the pacific northwest.

    Liked by 1 person

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