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Week 10: Angela Petry

Angela Petry, a lover of the natural world, was my hiking companion for the 10th week of “A Year of Hikes: 52 Weeks, 52 Women, Same Trail.” She is an inspirational woman and a self-described “small town mover and shaker.” She hails from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia where she teaches belly dancing, advocates for women’s issues and works to end domestic violence. Each year, Angela and her students participate in Shimmy Mob, an international belly dance flash mob held to raise awareness of domestic abuse and funds to combat it.

We share lots of things in common but there is one major difference. Angela has incredible musical talents…she plays several instruments, has a beautiful voice and is the lead singer for The Flashbacks. I, on the other hand, have ZERO, ZIP, NADA musical abilities!  I can’t do any of those things, but…I can dance and love to do so whenever and wherever The Flashbacks play!

Since Covid I haven’t had a chance to dance to any band, let alone The Flashbacks, so it was a pleasure to catch up with Angela on the Appalachian Trail. As we hiked, we discussed our outdoor activities during COVID, respective businesses, the pros and cons of technology, our families and our desires for a return to some semblance of normalcy once the vaccine becomes more readily available.

For the first time in weeks there was no snow on the trail, well almost no snow. (Angela spied and pointed out, I believe, the VERY LAST patch of snow in Maryland!) Minus the snow, the trail looked completely different, and we were able to take in the new buds forming on the trees and the beautiful, soft green mosses and lichens visible on the rock outcroppings.

The “Year of Hikes” adventure started due to my sense of curiosity. I wanted to know if what I see in the world depends on with whom I am traveling. It is interesting that this was the 10th week I hiked the SAME section of the trail but the first time, I saw a gigantic rusted out piece of metal. Angela and I hazarded all kinds of guesses as to what it was…an old piece of farm equipment, an abandoned trailer, something that used to belong to the Road’s Department. Who knows??? If you know or want to guess, please comment below.

I asked Angela to strike the “strong woman pose”, the one where it looks like she is holding up a tree. And she asked me to take a picture of her next to an A.T. trail blaze. She explained that in solidarity with her son, who hiked the entire A.T., she wants to show him the photo and say, “I walked where you walked.”

Isn’t that what we all want? To have others know and understand the paths we have chosen to walk…or, at least, try to do so. My hike with Angela reminded me that though we are all unique and travel separate paths, deep down, we all have the same needs…the need to be valued, to be loved and to contribute to making the world a more beautiful place.

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