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Week 12: Therese Blanchon

“So, two dizzy women walked into a …” Though this sounds like the beginning of a joke, it actually describes the beginning of the 12th week of “A Year of Hikes: 52 Weeks, 52 Women, Same Trail.” And we didn’t walk into a bar, we walked into a woodland sanctuary!  I met Therese Blanchon, my hiking companion, for the first time at the A.T. Trailhead off Route 77 and immediately bonded over our shared malady…vertigo. Right off the bat, we agreed that it is impossible to describe to a non-sufferer what vertigo feels like.  Put another way, only somebody who has experienced this intermittent, weird condition can truly commiserate.  

And commiserate we did!  As we hiked along, we shared stories of feeling too dizzy to walk and too nauseous to eat. We discussed possible triggers, treatment options we had pursued and expressed hope that we would never experience it again.  As strange as it sounds, it was lovely to meet somebody for the first who really understood an aspect of my life that so many people who have known me for years just can’t comprehend.  It’s one of the things I like best about my “Year of Hikes” adventure…the surprise of connecting, the joy of being seen and heard and the chance to do that for other women.  

It was a beautiful, sunny day for a hike! For the first time I didn’t feel the need to wear a winter hat or gloves and Therese wore sunglasses, which I wish I had thought to bring…there’s always next week!  Signs of spring were everywhere…bright green grasses popping through the soil and new ferns emerging through the brown leaves that had fallen last autumn. Therese was especially taken with the stacked stone walls that run along the trail and into the woods and we hypothesized who built them and how long ago.

I got to hear all about the cruise Therese took with her husband to Norway, Finland, Iceland and Greenland, and then all the way back to Boston.  Since I’ve never been on a cruise, I was super interested as she described the meals aboard the ship, their sleeping accommodations and the walking tours at each port of call.  I asked a ton of questions, which according to my granddaughter, is “a little annoying.”  Oh well, sorry, Therese! 

I love to take a picture of each of my hiking buddies at various locations: at the start of each hike, by the rock wall next to what I call the steps, in the powerline field and by the stream known as Warner Hollow.   Most of all, I like when my companions strike what I’ve come to call “The Strong Woman Pose.”  Therese humored me as I photographed her lifting a tree…to me it signifies the strength of the amazing women that I’ve had the privilege to spend time with on the trail.  

On the way back, I filled Therese in on my kids, who might be horrified to know that I still refer to them that way.  But they will always be my kids.  One’s living in Europe, two are expecting babies (one any day), one is a journalist and another a consultant and fair housing advocate in D.C.  We also talked about food…one of my favorite topics.  Whether discussing the health and nutritional aspects of certain foods, delicious desserts, sharing favorite recipes or detailing kitchen catastrophes, if it’s about food I’m all in!  Therese and I got talking about good restaurants and though our husbands don’t yet know this, we are planning to dine together at Lot 12 in Berkley Springs as soon as we all have both COVID vaccines. We should definitely go hiking first and work up a good appetite!

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