Appalachian Trail Georgia Section Hike: Day 0

The day before the hike
Saturday, June 7, 2014

Driving to the airport in the rain and I have a strange mix of emotions. I am excited, no doubt. This trip has been two years in the making. I think I have literally thought about the trail everyday over the last twelve months. So I am thrilled to be a day away from this adventure but I am also wrestling with a little guilt. I have never left my family for this long to do something I wanted to do. I have gone on mission trips, camps, conferences, speaking engagements, BUT I have never asked my wife to bear the full responsibility of the family so I could go on a little 10 day adventure. She is so gracious to let me go, but I here this nagging voice in my head saying, “This is wrong.” I know it is true but it has my heart tied up in knots.

And I feel a bit sad. Dylan, my four-year-old and my youngest wants to go with me. How do I tell a four-year-old with his arms wrapped around me, “You can’t go with Daddy on this trip.”

“When I get way big?” he asked.

“Yes. When you get way big we will go hiking together.

I will miss him. I will miss all the boys…and Jenni too.

I read Becoming Odyssa by Jen Pharr Davis on the flight to Georgia. I started it this winter, but didn’t get very far. I restarted the book at the terminal waiting on my flight. I have listened to Jen (via podcast) talk about her adventures on the trail so I here her voice in my head. She is a good writer. Very descriptive. I hope to finish the book on the return flight. I liked what she said about hiking the trail as a bear (a Christian) among the squirrels (non-Christians). She writes, “They kept their distance and feared I would eat them, when really I just wanted to dine on berries and live peaceably in the woods.” (pg. 68). Ha! I agree.

Jen struggled on what to write in the register at Springer Mountain. She ended up writing “I’ve always heard New England is nice; look forward to being there this summer.” It made me think about what I may write in the register when I make it to Springer towards the end of my journey. Maybe: “Best of all — the God of the trail is with is.” Or maybe: “You are a collection of the stories you tell. Make your story one to remember.”

She wrote a particularly beautiful passage in Chapter 9 describing her experience on Little Hump Bald in Tennessee when she was overcome by God’s beauty and shouted “Praise God” and then felt like a “dork” (her words). Then she writes: “The mountains were singing the praises of God beautifully and without shame. I wished I could be more like a mountain” (pg 88).

My friend, Gabe Theiss, picked me up at the airport and we headed to Ellijay, Georgia. He has a friend with a cabin just outside of Ellijay and offered to let us stay there for the night. We ate some good southern BBQ for supper and got caught up. I hadn’t seen Gabe for nearly two years. He was planning on hiking with us but has to back out due to a foot injury. We started watched Forrest Gump on VHS waiting in my brother Jeff and our mutual friend John who are hiking with me.

They showed up to the cabin by 9 PM and brought donuts. Score! We ate donuts and watched the rest of Forrest Gump while going over our gear. Jeff brought some extra suppers from Pak-It-Gormet. I substituted stovetop stuffing for some gumbo mix and I added some bean burrito mix. I also added some instant pudding mix. Triple score!

Looking forward to starting the hike.