Waiting and Hiking

Running Buddy Kevin Taking a Break

Running Buddy Kevin Taking a Break

As my day of departure gets closer, I find it increasingly difficult not to think about the trail with some degree of obsession. Between continuing to read gear reviews (despite having secured all that I plan to begin with), reading journals of past hikers, and training by hiking or running almost every day, I find little time for anything else. I feel as if I could begin tomorrow even though I realize that waiting until my scheduled departure date is still more practical. So that is what I continue to do…..wait.

But then is there really anything wrong with waiting? Aren’t we somewhat conditioned by society to expect to wait on a regular basis? At 61 years of age I shouldn’t be wishing away my days to reach the day I plan to begin my northward walk. After all, it will arrive eventually. Then within a matter of less than six months, hopefully, the adventure will culminate with a final day of exhilaration. So in the meantime I hope I’ll continue to appreciate the opportunity to prepare.

This past Saturday I hiked the Long Leaf Trail on Pine Mountain with my good running buddy, Kevin.. Taking a few breaks to rest and talk with friends and other hikers, we covered the 6.9 miles in about three and one-half hours. On Saturday mornings of the past I would run long, beginning downtown, with a group of buddies. More recently the Saturday runs have gradually shortened. But now as I continue to transition from the runner to the hiker, I’m finding myself more often in the woods than in the park.

As Kevin and I neared the end of the hike, we encountered three of those running buddies who were out for a trail run as they prepared for the upcoming Pinhoti 50K. It was good to pause and chat a few minutes with Troy, John C., and Torrey. These were three of our teammates when we participated in the Run for the Heroes Run Across Georgia a couple of years ago. I especially appreciated John’s mantra as he navigated the trails, “Stay vertical.” That’s something I hope to do as I hike the AT.

We also saw Alton Hogan, the hiker from Florida, who has been training on the PMT in preparation for his thru hike. Alton said he is going to leave whenever he foresees “three consecutive days of good weather.” I like his approach. It would be nice to see him again on the AT; however, with his start date being over a month before mine, that doesn’t seem very likely. Still Alton assured me that he would be checking my journal for updates. We again wished each other well as he headed up the rock steps toward the FDR park office to secure his camping spot for the night.

As always it was good to see and visit with others as I hiked today. Being able to meet new people and share our experiences is something that I look forward to with enthusiasm as I continue to await the day I sign in as a thru hiker and begin my journey on the Appalachian Trail.

Categories: 2013 AT Hike Prep. | Leave a comment

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