I (Mama Raven) am feeling a lot of guilt these days for not updating our blog.  There has been so little time to sit down and write.  Also, writing is something that does not come easy to me.  It is a terribly laborious endeavor.   However, I need to rid myself of my guilt and just sit down and do it!  The Ravens are way behind schedule for just about everything in life these days, including thank you notes and updating our blog. Whatever free time I have had, has been dedicated to working on the  20,000 photographs I took of our thru-hike.  I am almost done with them.   We got back home from our PCT hike in early October and it has been quite an adventure adjusting back into normal life – if such a thing is possible.  Upon returning, we were rudely thrown back into normal, hectic life with kids. I am jealous of the hikers who could return home and gradually ease back into society.  Although, perhaps a forced transition is better. It gets it over with!  We are crazily busy.  It is always go, go, go and rush, rush, rush.  There is rarely a moment to stop and take a deep breath and revel in what is good or to reminisce about our hike.  That treat usually occurs when I lay my head down on my pillow each night.  It is then that my mind is flooded with the beautiful and brilliant  memories of our families adventure this past summer.  I am far happier on the trail.  I miss everything about it.  Well . . . that might not be completely true.  I don’t miss the sore feet, day after day of rain, and digging cat holes.  Despite those few unpleasant times, I am terribly home sick for the two foot wide path that was our home for six months.  I miss the friends we made along the way.  I long to be soothed by the nature that surrounded us, and I yearn for the simple, yet intricately beautiful life we had every day.  I want to go home!

There were many people who faithfully followed our blog this past summer.  One of my favorite followers was Margaret, who often left beautiful comments for us.  Margaret, I am uncertain if you will read this, but just in case you do, I want you to know I savored every word you wrote.  You have a gift for putting your beautiful thoughts down in writing.  A talent I wish I had.  Anyways, you once asked a question that I never answered:   what was it like hiking without Bling?  The answer  is . . . it was no longer fun.  It became a job that we had to complete.  I got mad.  Bling had hiked so far,  endured so much, and was so close to the final goal.   Moms are supposed to fix things and make things better, but this one I could not.  We missed everything about him:   his smile, witty humor,  gift of being content in all situations, his logical way of thinking, his unfailing memory, his sensitivity and cheerful demeanor, and his companionship.   One forth of The Ravens was Bling.  One  forth of The Ravens  was gone.  It was like losing a major part of your body and having to learn how to function without that missing part.   Our ending of the trail was bitter-sweet.  Three forths of The Ravens made it to Monument 78.   One forth did not!

The latest update with Bling’s broken femur is that after two months in a full cast and then two months of a full leg brace.  He got the doctors OK, which was the day before Christmas, to be free of all devices on his leg.  His leg has lost much of its muscle strength and the knee and ankle joint do not want to fully bend or straighten.  For the next three months, he is to do no high impact activities, although swimming, bicycle riding and walking are allowed to increase his muscle and mobility of his joints.  His doctor wants him to do physical therapy, but we cannot begin until the insurance approves it, which hopefully is soon.   Bling walks with a big limp, but other than that, he is doing well!

Little Crow is back into springboard diving and the swim team.  Consequently, we spend a considerable amount of time at the high school swimming pool.  She recently had a diving competition where she placed first.  She also swam in five events at a swim meet. She earned three firsts and two second places.  Her times were fast enough to move her up a rank which means in her next swim meet, she will have a much harder time doing as well.   Nonetheless, we are all excited for her.  These wins are not normal for her.  For the first time in a competition, she really  wanted to do well, and she succeed.  Hiking the PCT has done something positive to improve her motivation.

Tim is still unemployed, but we have high hopes for the first of the year that something will come along.  To be honest, I do not look forward to him going back to work.  We love having Papa Raven at home with us.  Our hiking friend Cat Water, who is from Alaska,  sent us a Christmas card and she says she will be south bounding the PCT next year and she asked if anybody wanted to join her.   The Ravens want to respond with an enthusiastic yes, but we cannot.  Our hearts are ready for another long hike, but the practicality of it actually happening is sadly far off  in the future.  We will have to be patient and wait for Tim to retire before our next long hike, which probably will be the Continental Divide Trail.  Papa Raven has already signed us up for the CDT Coalition and visions of hiking the Sierra Madras and the San Juan Mountains, seeing ghost towns, and passing through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana are dancing in our heads.

One of the things I wanted to do when we returned was to send out thank you notes. We failed at that goal! Nonetheless, here is our long, overdue thank you:  from those who worked so diligently mailing our supply boxes and shopping for all the misc. items we needed (that is your Karin, Denise, and Cheryl), to everyone who met us along the way and fed us like royalty, to friends that mailed letters to Bling and Little Crow, to the trail angels we met and did not meet, to the businesses and towns that treated the hikers so kindly,  to the rescue team who helped Bling (that includes you Lewis and Florence), to the friends and strangers who followed our blogs and even took time to leave comments, and finally to our fellow hiking companions that made our adventure so extraordinary special. . . . thank you . . . . and that is one super-sized, deeply heart-felt, THANK YOU!