Tuesday, May 10, 2022

On the trail again


I think hiking might be one of my main writing themes. Certainly, it is one of my favorite pastimes. Yesterday, we went for a hike along a section of the Appalachian trail here in Maryland. It was really nice to be outside in the bright sunny spring weather, after a cold rainy weekend indoors. We hiked near Washington Monument State Park. This monument was the very first built to commemorate George Washington, completed in 1827 by the citizens of Boonsboro, Maryland. Here's a view of the Cumberland Valley from the monument -

We met several "thru hikers," obvious by their enormous backpacks; I always enjoy these conversations, learning insights about different lives in just a few amiable minutes. One guy was from Massachusetts and doing a ten day hike; another was from Australia and had started hiking a couple months back, only to receive word that his 92 year old mother was dying - he went home for seven weeks to be with her, and was just now back hiking the trail again. 

For today's slice, I've attempted a 'tritina' poem about our hike. (In a tritina, there are three stanzas of three lines each, with three end words repeated in varied order; there is one final line - an 'envoi' - which includes all three words in the single line.) 

brief hellos with strangers

we hike together, yet always, try as I might, I trail

my mind wanders with my feet, my thoughts rain

brief hellos with strangers leave me in a happy daze

one hiker, claiming low mileage for the days,

shared of crossing a wild, rushing stream on the trail

he was exhilarated by sun after three days of cold rain

a second hiker confided his mother’s death did reign

the recent weeks alongside her, now a gift all his days

with precious memories guiding him on the trail

rain or shine, there is joy to be found in days on the trail


It's Tuesday and I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!


  1. Your slice is a gift to me! Your first line reminds me how we wrote what we know. You kindly taught me about a monument and gave me a glimpse of your encounters on the trail. But then your poem!! WOW! I loved how you played with days/daze. I loved learning about a new poem structure. And those 3-lined stanzas capture your hike so welll. What a great mentor for writing in both prose and verse. Thanks for sharing your writing here. So glad I clicked and read it this morning!

  2. I love hiking, so was drawn into your story. I've also encountered thru hikers and just like you mentioned, 'a few amiable minutes of conversation' and you can learn SO much about the hiker. That was a great Tritina with an awesome last line 'envoi'. My life motto! Makes me want to hit the trail! :)

  3. Maureen,

    That view is gorgeous. I too love hiking, but I’ve only hiked a short part of the Appalachian trail. Your post gives me an idea for a trip! I also love meeting people and hearing their stories. I can’t imagine, however, hiking the complete Appalachian trail. I don’t like carrying a backpack, even a little one. There’s something about a hike that sparks memories and poems, and poems are a lovely way to capture memories.


  4. Your beautiful tritina reminded me of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Have you read that one? If you enjoy hiking and the outdoors, then it's a fascinating book. It's memoir, but you learn so much about the PCT and hiking from the book too.

    BTW: GORGEOUS photo. I need to get somewhere like that--stat.