Friday, April 24, 2009
Start: Home — Jacksonville, Florida
Finish: Douglasville, Georgia
The day starts out typical: get dressed and ready for work. But this is no typical day. On my mind is the upcoming hike. I’ve decided to work a half day and take off in the early afternoon. I’ll drive to Atlanta with DT and spend the night a mere two hours away from the trailhead.
Work is not typical, and even though I’m attempting to only work a half day, we have a deployment and it goes a little rough. Instead of noon, the departure from work is closer to 1:30, but that’s okay, once out the office door, I’m free and that sense of freedom rushes over me like a shower of energy. I’m excited. I’m ready to go.
I planned this outing in the fall, at least 6 months ago. I have wanted to experience the Appalachian Trail since I was a very young man. Inwardly, I wish I could hike the entire trail in one trip. I’d set speed records and make over 20 miles each day. Yeh, yeh, sure, doesn’t everyone dream these foolish dreams? In my mind I bring up memories of stories about excited warriors going off to war. “We’ll all be home by Christmas, after we whip the…” Except no one is ever home from the war by Christmas. Seemingly simple conquests have a way of growing large. And I smile to myself as I think I may have underestimated the trail in the same manner as the aforementioned optimistic warriors.
On the drive to Atlanta DT and I converse for awhile until everything seems to be said, then there is a period of relaxed silence.
We’ve taken two shake-down trips, both on the Florida trail. In case your geography is a little rough, Florida is flat. I mean really flat. Did I mention how flat Florida is?
The first trip was from a trailhead about 13 miles from Goldhead State Park. Part of the trail was on the road and overall the trip was boring. DTand I were accompanied by WB who, after the hike, declared he had no interest in any more hiking. But the worst part was the blister. The brand-new, expensive hiking boots just didn’t get the job done. I guess that’s why you take practice trips? As a result, I re-evaluated my footwear and moved away from hard sole high-tops and went to a soft sole trail shoe more akin to a running shoe. Since I run a great deal, this shoe type seemed a natural fit so I stayed with them. And the best part? No blisters!
At My sister’s house we had a relaxing conversation about her fruit-and-vegetable diet undertaken as a ‘purge.’ I suggest a week on the Appalachian Trail might prove to be a better purge. She politely declined. I consumed two adult barley beverages and enjoyed a couple of episodes of Survivor Man on cable. Then it was lights out, the morning would come soon.