By Sara Leibold

Love Letter to the Appalachian Trail

Memories of you fade into dreams.
The sunsets in Shenandoah,
the enchanted forests of Vermont,
I even miss the foggy mountaintops of Tennessee.
I want to be surrounded once more by
rhododendron so thick I have to bend over to pass through.
I yearn to sink back into the absolute wilderness of Maine,
alone among ancient peaks.
I need to remember how moving slowly over rocks and rivers,
through fields and valleys, across ever-changing horizons,
offers perspectives otherwise blurred.

Regardless of distance
I am forever pulled toward the green tunnel.
The endless ridgelines draw me closer
until I set foot on trail
and feel at home once again.
Thank you for always being there.

Whether for escapement, challenge, or reconnection
I know I can always return.
You welcome me with wide indifferent arms
and hold space for my thoughts and tears.
I know myself as a reflection of you.
Together as part of, not separate from,
connection can heal,
connection can break open our hearts
from which gratitude and hope emerges.
I wish for others the opportunities to witness and grow along your path.

You bring people together
in ways that still surprise me,
no matter how much time has passed.
I cherish the deep bonds that are formed over a shared experience
and relish in the magic made when laughter turns to song.
Thank you for providing me with such amazing friends and love.

I am grateful to be part of your history,
as well as your future.