A long distance hiking trail that starts at the peak of Springer Mountain in Georgia, and ends at the peak of Mount Katahdin in Maine.
It is finally raining. Freezing rain forecasted for the northern counties and so I am off this morning in search of a gullywasher. If there is one piece of gear that I am still on the fence about it is The Packa. I love the concept but it's twice as heavy as say the OR Helium rain jacket. I will return in about 6 hours either loving it or hating it.
A few curious people have asked, “What's up with the Gumby thing?" Well, there is a story in that. When I was young, I had a Gumby companion and it went everywhere with me. I was on a camping trip with my Father and I made Gumby a raft and set him down in a fast-moving river. Some accounts were that it was a Class V and based on other events that I can remember more clearly from my childhood, I would say this is accurate. As Gumby was swept from my hands, my father took chase but couldn’t keep up with Gumby and his raft. He was gone. Lost forever. To help ease the pain, my family has gifted me many Gumby items over the years including ties, socks, key chains, snuff boxes, handkerchiefs, etc. So, I suppose the name is a fitting tribute to my brave Gumby friend.
This is the first entry in a new journal that I will use to document the places I'll visit, the people I meet and any thoughts or aspirations that I'd like to share as I trek northbound along the 2100 mile footpath known as the Appalachian Trail. I'll begin my hike on February 25 at Springer Mountain, GA. I'll travel to Atlanta and meet Donnie and his wife Mary (photo attached) at the North Springs MARTA station. Our first stop will be at Amicalola State Park to sign-in and pick up my Thru-Hiker Badge before heading up the fire road to the Springer Mtn parking lot. From there, I'll hike back to the plaque at the southern terminus , sign the registry, and depending on the time, stay at the Springer Mountain Shelter or push on to Stover Mountain about 3 miles to the north. I do remind myself that these are just plans. As the poet Robert Burns wrote, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" and so to hike to a rigid schedule would likely dilute the experience and allow all that is new and unknown to go unnoticed.
When your legs ache, and your lungs burn, the only thing pushing you onwards and upwards is the goal of reaching the summit or the promise of a view. This drive to finish the ascent is a powerful motivator, but when conditions deteriorate this singular focus on completing a hike can be detrimental and even dangerous. It's difficult to give up a goal, turn around and walk away, but sometimes you have to do it. Learning when yo go and when to say no is an important skill and I am thankful for challenging situations that help me learn where to draw that line.
Recently, my teen daughter and I hiked a local 3000-footer know for its challenging ascent. The trail starts with a steep climb through a wooded forest followed by a 0.5-mile rise up intermittent alpine conifer forests and rock slab. We made it quickly and easily to the rock and were within 1/10th of a mile from the summit when we were stopped in our track by a stretch of boilerplate ice on a slight incline. We could see the summit right above us ... almost touch it, or so it seemed. We gingerly took one step on the ice as we prepared to make the final push to the top and our feet were swept out from beneath. We looked to skirt around the ice and follow the treeline, but it was slick everywhere we stepped.
. My daughter would follow me no matter what so I knew As the mom and the adult, it was my decision to continue or turn around. It was hard to say no e can't go, especially after working so hard to get so far, but my gut feeling told me it was best to call it a day and return home safely. And so we did. Not only did we return home in one piece, but we both learned a lesson in knowing when to give up on a goal and unashamedly turn around.
Made it to the summit with no view! Happy it was cool weather, though! My wife, who didn’t want her picture taken, hiked with flip flops on😳!! Due to my 10 year old forgetting her hiking shoes! What a trooper! I was insanely impressed with my brides determination! We had the flip flop issue and a small water issue, but she made it to the top! Only her 3rd time hiking! All mountains! She’s awesome!