Last year at this time Christian and I were preparing for our first garden together as a married couple. We’d had a plot in a wonderful Community Garden the year before while we were engaged. I would drive over to his place from my apartment and we would walk in the cool of the evening watering the garden and talking about the future when we would be married. This year would be different. I would actually have to help work the garden rather than beaming on adoringly as he did all of the work.
I remember the feel of the earth under my feet more than anything else. I had removed my sandals and worked barefoot as we laboriously turned the brown unyielding earth and dug holes for seeds. Unaccustomed to the work it takes to make things grow, I grew weary and thought of all of the things I would rather be doing. I had not grown up knowing the value of sustainability. But, my husband stopped me in mid-complaint and spoke the sweetest words:
“I want to take care of you and part of that means empowering you to do hard things. I know it is a challenge but, when you taste the organic pesto we will have next year, you will remember that your hands helped plant this Basil and you will be proud of yourself. You can do this. I know you can”.
Today, I had “Torp Pesto” tossed in pasta for lunch. Christian canned and put up several jars for us for the year. Not only did I smile because I had a hand in its creation, but it also reminded me of the fact that growing things is hard, but necessary work. It requires sacrifice, tenacity, physical exertion, time, and care. I love thinking about how my husband is doing something to bring awareness to the destruction of Appalachia by embodying all of those qualities.
Later, he called and he is exhausted. His shins are aching and he is missing home. But, these are the words he asked me to share with you, particularly for the four home schooled children who are following our blog: “Life is a challenge but, it is also a blessing. Each step leads us closer to where we should be”. He is yet determined and resolved to go on, even in the hard times.
Right before he called I received some wonderful news that I wanted to announce here to our supporters. Christian will make it to TN next week and we have been given full use of a cabin for him to recuperate and regroup. We would like to thank Adam Farmer and his family whom we have never met for offering us their family cabin for a mini-break for Christian. I am thrilled that I get the opportunity to see my husband and bring with me all of your words of encouragement and love that have cheered him on along the way. I am also bringing with me the supplies that he has asked for. It is solely your generosity that has allowed me to be able to afford to buy him these things.
Somewhere along the way I either overshot or undershot it, but there is no water. I planned to camp at a water source so I planned my water perfectly. I had just enough left for dinner. But, here I am and there is no water. I NEEDED water. A camp-mate I just met, who has thru-hiked the trail before says that water is a mile back the way I came.
I can’t make breakfast without water, I can’t hike without water, I can’t live without water. So, I make the decision now, that I need to go looking for water. It is 9:40 at night and I have hiked until everything hurts. I did not anticipate this. But, I have no choice. Water=life. I make an arrow in the path so I don’t miss my campsite on the way back. I strap on my head lamp and figure if I don’t find it by 10:20 I have to turn around. I find water at 10:19.
I pump until 10:40 and return to camp around 11:24. A one hour and forty-four minute night hike for some water? Am I crazy? Once my water’s gone, eventually I’m a goner if I can’t get more. The next source could be 10 miles away and one simply can’t just “hope” there is water. On the trail, it is the most important thing in life. Would I have preferred not to go? Of course, but I cannot be cavalier about my water supply. I can’t hope my way out of dehydration.
I think about our brothers and sisters in Appalachia who do not have safe water to drink as I begin to prepare dinner with the water I have just filtered.
It’s after dinner now, and I am having a terrible Bear Bag night. I spent what would have been a chance to enjoy the beautiful moonscape trying to sling a carabiner with a line attached to it over a tree limb. It would have been difficult for someone with two working arms but seemed nearly impossible with one. After that, I’m about spent for the night.
It is a beautiful night but, it is punctuated with an excruciating back ache. I am sitting by the fire drinking my wife’s favorite (which I have grown fond of as well), Black Spiced Chai Tea. I’m talking to Bayou, another hiker, from New Orleans. We’re discussing Revelation 11: 18 NKJV and pondering how people justify the destruction of the earth. We settle with the fact that we think the Word gives us stewardship over the earth and a call to protect it. If the earth is His and the fullness thereof, how can we be so careless? Sometimes, even on the trail, the pollution is so thick it keeps you from seeing to the next ridge. This does not just make me sad. It makes me angry. What right does anyone have to destroy without full indemnity?
I take comfort in the fact that those reading these words will begin to wonder and investigate for themselves. My journey is OUR journey.
Today’s donation total rose to $2,365. We still need $2,635. Thank you to those who have supported us. Please mail donations to: Christian Torp, P.O. Box 861, Lexington, Ky. 40588.