Day 8, Blackrock Hut

Miles hiked: 7-8, EASY DAY!!!!

What we saw:  nothing really. Just clouds as storm fronts passed. 

Today, God gave me gift after gift. After hiking 17 miles yesterday, I was given a day of half that distance and most of the terrain was flat. On top of that, the Trail itself was gentle. I am so tired of big rocks digging into my feet. 

From there, I went ahead of the group because of the threat of rain.  I prayed all day for God to hold off the rain. I arrived at the site early, set up the tent, and was in the process of setting out my sleeping gear when Owl Singer and Karl Tater (Owl Singer’s son’s AT name) arrived. Just as they were strolling up the hill to the tent sites, the first thunder clap unfurled across the valley. Answer to prayer indeed. 

When I summited Blackrock Mountain, I confess to a moment of crying. The sudden stillness when I left the forest combined with a cloud sifting across the top of another mountain suddenly made me homesick for the Germany of my girlhood. I loved how the clouds combed themselves through the pine trees, leaving behind tendrils in the branches. The mountains create their own weather patterns so a long steady rain storm is a lullaby for me. 

Somehow, over the course of this journey, I have managed to video chat with my parents multiple times. Right now, they are home in Germany and when I stood at n Blackrock summit, I ached for my parents. I ached for the unconditional love only parents can offer. I yearned for those long hikes in the alps when a beautiful sunny day is punctuated by a long rain shower. 

I stood at Blackrock Summit, alone, and cried for the briefest of moments because I had come so many miles past the stopping point of last year. And I missed home. And I missed my family. And I just felt…complete. 

I don’t know if that makes sense, but that is the truth. 

I left the summit, having seen the clouds rapidly moving towards me. And as I left the summit and re-entered the forest, I heard a cuckoo. 

I don’t know that cuckoo birds are in Shenandoah National Park, but I know that I was not experiencing an auditory hallucination. 

And I know that I heard a cuckoo. 

My mother’s signal to the family is cuckoo. When we lived in Germany, she would call out, “Cuckoo!” as a check-in signal. As a family, we knew to respond immediately or Mom would frantically sound out more and louder “Cuckoos!”

Can I confess to huge levels of embarrassment?  Because the Cuckoos had no boundary. 

I have been Cuckooed in airports, train stations, at my house, at both of my parents’ homes. 

Whenever a family member travels, Mom sends out her “Cuckoo Beacons.”  Radar has nothing on my mother. 

For the better part of 35 years, I have suffered through and “put up with” my mother’s cuckoo idiosyncrasy. But today,on Blackrock Summit, I was so thankful to finally hear her cuckoo beacon. 

I miss my mom. I miss everything about her. 

It is 4:16 in the afternoon. In 48 hours, I might be home. If anything, I will be in the car home. 

In 45 hours, my husband should be picking us up at our finishing point. 

I am ready to go home. I want to call my mom. 

I want to tell her, “Cuckoo.”  

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