One day I am going to take a break from work and set out on a long hike with Chuck. We are going to take our time and enjoy the experience fully. I am going to give myself permission to go slow and work on being in the moment. We are going to take breaks along quiet streams and meet new friends. I’m going to try to stop the stories that I tell myself and work on a few things that need healing.
That day started today. We woke to Chuck pacing around the hotel room in Dahlonega not wanting to eat his breakfast. He knew something big was happening and could sense the weird mix of sadness, anxiety and excitement coming through us.
The shuttle driver showed up right on time and I was at the start by 9AM. My buddy Andrew decided at the last minute to meet me at Springer to hike a few miles with me as a sweet send off. Andrew is my crazy adventure racing buddy and we’ve done some insane stuff together. We joked all morning about all the miserable but fun multi day adventure races that we’ve done together. Our favorite story is from a race in the Poconos we did with Neil as few years ago where we had to hike our mountain bikes up the side of a mountain for 3 hours in the middle of the night to get to the next section of the bike course. It felt like it was nearly vertical and we pushed through dense underbrush. What adventure racing nerds lovingly call “bike whacking”. I don’t recommend it but it sure is funny to look back on it now. It was a blast catching up with Andrew. I miss spending time with him and it was so nice of him to make the trip up here.
We left Springer at 10 and Andrew hiked a few hours before turning around. Chuck and I had a perfect first day. He was “tail up” happy!
The snow quickly disappeared and it was sunny and cold all the way to Gooch Shelter. We saw quite a few thru hikers but still got plenty of quiet time to soak up the experience. I think Chuck could have hiked a lot longer today but I am going to take things slow at the beginning. The north Georgia mountains were showing off off their deepest blues today and the trees were swaying in a steady breeze. That is my favorite sound in the world. All of those beautiful tall trees moving together in the wind doing their best ocean sounds.
We got to Gooch around 5 and ate dinner together in the tent. Chuck got a mini massage and his paws rubbed down with Mushers Secret. After dinner he curled up in his own warm sleeping bag and we listed to those trees sway in the wind. Hiker midnight came early today and although the campground is nearly full it is peaceful and quiet. A damned perfect day one.