Does everybody know why you didn't get mail yesterday? Yes, it is the day we honor Columbus as an explorer and, right or wrong, credit him with discovering America. If you want to leave comments about who all was already here when he stumbled on the shore, that is fine. Any rants about his intentions or misguided ambitions are welcome. However, I have attempted to put myself in his place and find it difficult to imagine loading up three ships and sailing across a vast expanse of ocean towards where most everybody thought the world just dropped off based on my belief that the world was, in fact, round. Again, say and believe what you want but this was a man of courage and adventure. Therefore, in honor of the explorer I decided to use most of my holiday exploring by going on a walk-about. The intention was a 20 mile hike to test drive some new hiking equipment (boots and shorts). My annual trek to the Appalachian Trail with friends and my brother this year will be in November because we had difficulty finding a time when all could make it. Still not all can make it. As it stands now three or four of us plan to spend a few days in the North Georgia mountains backpacking highlighted by an attempt to cover about 22 miles in one day. This distance in steep mountains on rocky footing is a far cry from covering the same distance on flat ground so it is a real challenge. Added to the uncertainty is the fact that days are getting one to two minutes shorter now and there will be much less daylight by early November. But it will be fun. Yesterday may be an indication of what to expect. I spent most of the morning finding gear, cleaning hydration bottles and then trekking to the store to replace one that had been stored with some moisture in the tube and ....well, lets just say it needed to be replaced. Since I started so late, I was sure I would have to lower my goal distance. Also, the planned route turned out to be too dangerous for walking--no shoulder on our highways. You will think this is funny or maybe just goofy, but I decided to walk down the interstate. Not very scenic and too much traffic but easy walking and there are MILE MARKERS. Eventually, I walked from Waugh to Shorter. After a short break at Shorter--no not the dog track--I walked down Hwy. 80 back to Waugh a distance of about 13 miles. The choice still was not the safest and certainly not the most aesthetic but an adventure just the same. In light of recent news events, I am sure some of the passing cars were concerned about my presence on the interstate and I would not have been surprised to be questioned by law enforcement personnel.
The only observation I want to share is the thought that occurred to me several times during this hike. While there are always dangers from others and always things to be discovered, the exploration and discovery is really about what is inside each of us. What am I afraid of? What am I willing to risk? What is important to me? What are my comfort zones? Am I limited by fear of what others will think? While I walked and sorted through some of these thoughts, I tried to imagine how much they would be amplified if I were sailing with a crew that counted on my leadership towards the line where the ocean meets the sky for the first time. Thank you, Christopher.