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I went on a ruck, the first since having moved my cheese into the woods. Unpacking, organizing, and making a nest continues, but the forest called out to me, and I answered by putting boots on the ground. My decision to take a hiking pole paid off during ascents and descents, and while cougar sightings have been reported on the trails lack of comms kept me alert and mindful of my surroundings. Before setting out on my ruck, I texted a friend in Colorado that if I don’t check-in in two hours to call in the cavalry. A marine horn is a signaling device I carry in my rucksack, including a mini survival kit, and of course a rucking plate to weigh me down. A bit of paranoia is a friend of mine, and I like to prepare myself for encountering the unexpected.

I stayed on a course that kept the lake to my left, so I had a reference point of my location without having to access a GPS app. The trail eventually terminated into a road paved decades ago, and lakefront cabins dotted the way around the lake, and that’s when I greeted a woman out for a brisk walk. Chatting things up after introducing ourselves, I noticed her attire consisted of running shoes, shorts, and a tee, and thought I might have overdressed for the occasion, but I respect the tactical advantage of preparedness.

I’m processing my change in environment from city to rurality, calibrating my bearings, and acclimating to a lifestyle that both inspires and challenges me to thrive. Rucking abounds beyond my front door, and it could take a dozen years or more to explore and fathom the area. I anticipate discovering and establishing rucking routes will engage me for decades, engendering a sense of exhilaration and accomplishment. My objective every day is to live in the moment, appreciate this paradise tucked away in the forest, and heal myself of wounds from yesteryears. I’ve found my home, and it’s in the woods, situated beyond the machinations of the general population.