Tuesday, November 07, 2006
You can do more!
Here are some pictures from our recent backpacking trip. Credit for all these photos goes to my brother, Keith, because frankly his photos turned out better than mine. Yes, it is painful to always be bested by your younger brother, but it is what it is. This trip was different from past years for several reasons. First, the scheduling was difficult. All the men who have backpacked with me are not only good Christian men whose company I enjoy, but also very productive and have demanding schedules. I will be glad to share details in person about each of these men, but for here just know that lots went into arriving at a November date for backpacking and only three of us could make it. This trip also differed because we were not carrying a week's worth of food in our packs. Therefore, a MUCH lighter pack which enabled cramming more miles into one day. On the other hand, it was MUCH colder (lows in mid-20's with lots of wind) so we carried more warm clothes. Also, the days are MUCH shorter. So our plan was to arrive Wednesday night, set up camp before the rain moved through, and spend Thursday doing some hiking near our "base camp" then leave a vehicle at the ending spot of our LONG hike so we could use all day Friday hiking. We planned to attempt to cover 20 miles of the Appalachian Trail on Friday. Pause for a moment to think about that. This is rocky footing over 4000 foot mountains from the moment the Sun rises til after it goes down carrying enough food, water, clothing, and first aid items to survive 20 MILES of hiking. Let me say at this point, do NOT attempt this if you do not have some experience hiking and do not know your limitations. Having hiked for 6 or 7 years and with some knowledge of the terrain we still were not sure we could do what we set out to do. There is always concern about injury and illness. Keith was injured before we began. He tore a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand playing flag football with the teenagers from church. This required surgery that left a zig-zag cut down his finger and the tendon stretched and attatched to something like a button on the end of his finger. His stitches were removed Tuesday. He was wearing a brace that is like a half-cast. This meant he could not hold a hiking stick that helps with balance and stability. I had a tender ankle from a severe sprain weeks ago that was fine for walking but still weak when turned as surely would happen while hiking on the rocky trail. Joel Plake was the third man in the party and was not injured but has only been backpacking about a year and didn't know what we were getting him into. I would love to share many stories from the adventure and our time together, but you have been patient to read this far. Explanation of the pictures; (assuming the position doesn't change when I post) 1) That is me on the 20 mile hike. I am wearing an orange vest because part of the hike crossed a Wildlife Management Area and in Georgia it is already gun deer season. 2) This is a picture of Joel demonstrating his balance on a log that is about 8 feet over a stream at the base of a waterfall. This was Saturday morning after the 20 mile day so we were more adventurous. Yes, I am standing at the end of the log making the "reeling in" motion because I may have contributed to Joel's willingness to walk the log. 3) That is Keith and me next to a plaque on Springer Mountain. This spot is considered the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It seems strange because you are in the middle of nowhere and it is almost 9 more miles to Amicolola State Park with vehicle access. Under the rock with the plaque is an aluminum container encased in cement. This container holds the log book for people to sign as they begin/end their hiking experience. 4) This is Joel and me, also at Springer Mountain, enjoying the beautiful view of fall foliage. We did this section on Thursday afternoon when dropping off my truck that we would hike to on Friday. 5) This is a view of Trahlyta Lake at Vogel State Park where we camped. As you see, it is beautiful and even more so from the vantage Joel and I had on Saturday when we hiked Bear Hair Gap trail to the top of the mountain you see in the background of this picture. From there you can look down on this vista and no postcard would do it justice. There are more pics and more memories but I just wanted to share these. Also, these thoughts that comes after hiking over distances that each time I was not sure was "do-able"; 1) I am more and more convinced that we can do so much more than we realize. 2) Fear is powerful (both appropriate and inappropriate fear). 3) To really get to know a person takes time--lots of uninterrupted time. If you add a difficult task and isolation, the relationship can go to another level more quickly. 4) Good friends are much more valuable that good stuff. 5) A good wife(spouse) whose judgment you trust and who trusts your judgment is more valuable than good friends. 6) Spending time in true wilderness thinking about survival and physical exertion then returning to "civilization" highlights how goofy we have become. 7) It takes a long time to get the smell of campfire smoke out of your gear.