Rejuvenation: To give new strength or energy to something.
Somewhere in the cobwebs of my mind, I remember a time when I could drop everything effortlessly and spend a weekend in the woods, in order to hit my reset button. I was beholden to no one but myself. These days, not so much. When I’m lucky enough to spend time in the wilderness now, I appreciate every second of the gift. Even more uncommon is the gift of bringing my bestest of besties along with me, Larry.
Thanks to awesome grandparents who were eager to spend a few days having some farm fun with their grands, Larry and I had that chance and we took it! If the truth be known, Larry would have rather been sitting poolside sipping a cocktail instead of sitting stream side while filtering water to drink, and sleeping under high thread count sheets with down pillows instead of on air mattresses with rolled up clothes for a pillow, at a 5-star hotel instead of on the Bartram Trail. See why I consider him the best of my best friends? Taking one for the team is what those kind of friends do, and he was happy to oblige my request for some wilderness therapy.
After we dropped the kids off in Toccoa, Georgia, thunderstorms chased away our plans of hiking under the light of a full moon before setting up camp. So we ended up sleeping in what I imagine was probably barely a 1-star hotel near the trailhead. At least we were motivated the next morning to hit the trail instead of sticking around in town.
|I was excited to complete my last leg of the Bartram Trail!|
That night we camped in a beautiful hollow next to a stream. As I was starting dinner, Larry wandered off to find a good tree to hang our food. When I heard a loud snap and then crash close by, the good vibe of the day was quickly replaced by fear that a falling tree had just made me a widow. Thankfully he had walked in the opposite direction and was safe and sound.
|We reached the top of Rabun Bald (2nd highest peak in GA) and the rain politely stopped in time for us to eat lunch on the viewing platform of the tower at its summit|
|A few minutes later, the clouds began their dance of departure and it was so magical to watch the landscape emerge|
|Waterfalls were in full force with the recent rains|
|Well, hello Box Turtle. Do you know how you can tell the difference between males and females? Males have red eyes and females are more yellow. This is a female.|
The next day we covered about 14 miles, hiking together most of the time. I was also appreciative for the miles I spent in a meditative state hiking alone, focusing on nothing more than the ground in front of me and my footsteps. We eventually took a break at the confluence of the Chattooga River and Dicks Creek. Larry enjoyed a “bath” while I enjoyed watching the paddlers on the river navigate some rapids.
|Blooming Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel lined the trail. Mother Nature is quite the landscape artist|
|I almost stepped on this handsome fella!|
|Pop Quiz! Now that you know how to tell the difference between male and female Box Turtles, is this a male or female?|
|If this particular turtle had been a female, I might have thought she was laying eggs in this hole. Box Turtles also dig holes to find a place to cool off. Pretty smart, because it was hot and humid!|
|Yes, Larry has clothes on, it just doesn’t look like it in this photo! It was a beautiful spot to unwind and cool off from the heat.|
We continued our journey a couple more miles, and we spent the night on the banks of the Chattooga River, enjoying the warm glow of a fire and each other’s company. It brought back the memory of a winter backpacking trip together, when Larry told he told me he wanted to spend his life with me. Sixteen years later, I love that we can still sit around a campfire and talk about everything or nothing at all, and he’s still the person I’m most comfortable in the world doing that with.
|Our tranquil home for the evening|
|Hands down, Larry’s favorite in camp “chore”–fire starting|
The next morning I was excited about covering the last miles of the Bartram Trail to complete my “thru hike” of it since starting last December. While I have big dreams in the far off future to thru hike long distance trails, I’m still filled with a sense of accomplishment for piecing these short ones together amidst our busy lives.
As we hiked, I thought about the first leg of the trail that I completed on the last two days of 2014, and how it was my return to solo backpacking since having kids. I wasn’t overly confident going by myself, but I “put my big girl pants on” and did it anyway. I had no idea how that trip would, in many ways, set the stage for the upcoming year and my involvement with starting a school–how it would encourage me to step outside my comfort zone and be brave enough to tackle what has unequivocally been the most challenging effort I’ve ever taken part in professionally. It’s a testament to how wilderness experiences can cross the divide into everyday life.
|It was bittersweet to finish the final mile of the Bartram Trail–it’s been a wonderful journey!|
Since Larry was willing to plug away at higher mileage than he would have chosen, he was aptly rewarded with a more luxurious accommodation than a 2-person tent. We spent the night at a wonderful mountain inn (Glen Ella Springs Inn) before heading back into Toccoa to pick up the kids the following day.
We live in chaotic, stressful times, filled with stimuli at every turn. Reconnecting with the simplicity of the natural world is vital to our emotional and physical well being. Whether it’s as elaborate as a 6-month thru hike or simply sitting outside to enjoy a beautiful day, rejuvenation is the gift we receive in return. Go out there and get it for yourself!
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir
1500K for Shining Rock Update
Miles hiked on this trip: 76
Miles hiked on other hikes not blogged about: 44
Miles remaining: 293.14
To date, we have reached 76.2% of our $25,000 goal for Shining Rock Classical Academy’s experiential programming!! THANK YOU to all of you who have contributed!! In order to fully fund our school’s experiential programming, we’d love to raise the entire amount for them! If you’d like to contribute, you can:
1. Send a check to 222 Methodist Drive, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745, made out to Shining Rock Classical Academy.
2. Click on this link and you’ll be taken to Crowd Rise, an online fundraising website, where you can donate with a credit card.
All contributions are tax deductible and we will send you a receipt with our 501c3 information