I’m not really sure why I do it. It’s not about checking out the wildflowers and mushrooms. I’m not in love with the expansive views. I don’t have a long family history of hiking to reminisce on. I’m not really motivated by the things I hear the other hikers talk about.
Actually, there are a lot of things I don’t like about hiking and those things translate into who I am. I work in IT, because I learned during my time as an Army mechanic that I hate abusing my flesh while exposed to the elements. I keep my AC tuned between 67* and 72* at home because I do not like to sweat. My couch has a motorized recliner built in because, well, it’s about the ultimate laziness feature. I like to be comfortable.
Hiking is not comfortable. So, why do I have a 60 liter backpack? Why do I know that I like my 24lb base weight heavy kit compared to bare bones ultralight gear? Why does my Amazon wish-list contain names like Osprey and MSR? And most of all, why am I going to huff and sweat my fat ass up a Georgia mountain tomorrow night when the humidity has been ridiculous and the temp is forecasted at 90 degrees?
Because in 2012 my friend, Branden, made me climb Pine Mtn in Cartersville, Georgia, as a way to get our tails back in shape. This is me on that first hiking excursion.
That picture is me trying to catch my breath after 10 minutes on the trail. We didn’t make it to the top that day. I made it about half way to the top and turned around because of the pain in my legs and stitches in my side. A 2 mile loop and 1000ft of elevation gain beat me. That day I decided I wouldn’t be beaten again.
I started jogging every few days and took a few road marches with my old army rucksack full of weight and water. A month later I met my friend, Corri, at the trail for round two. Half an hour later we were at the top. I saw my first overlook gazing south from sleepy Cartersville 45 miles to where the skyscrapers of Atlanta broke the clean lope of the horizon. Standing there next to the Bartow Co. highest point geological survey marker I realized what I had done. I had beaten the mountain. The view was cool and the forest was peaceful, but I didn’t care about that because I had beaten the mountain.
So I decided to beat that mountain again, but next time the full four miles. I did that a few times, then decided to add a 3 mile side trail, then a two mile approach. By spring of 2014 I had beaten the fill 9 miles of the Pine Mtn/Coopers Furnace complex around ten times. I was starting to get bored. So I decided to beat Kennesaw Mountain, little Kennesaw, and Pigeon Hill. And I did. I liked being a little human beating a big mountain, so I beat mountains.
Then I stopped. Life and school intervened. I still ran a little, but mostly I settled back into my comfort.
Then a while back I found myself utterly miserable. I had went through a divorce , but I was rebounding well. I had just moved to an awesome and satisfying new job with a nice promotion. My finances were stable and I liked my apartment. My kids were healthy and I had just adopted a kitten. I felt accomplished, but I wasn’t happy.
Then I made friends with a hiker. We hit it off and a few dates o.o later we climbed Pine Mtn together. A few months later we got some backpacking gear and went to Vogel state park to camp and test our gear. Somewhere on the Bear Hair Gap trail I remembered what my life was missing.
So I beat John’s Mountain, north of Rome, and a few other unnamed 1000 foot climbs with my new hiking companion. Eventually life took us separate ways, but I wanted more from hiking. I started hitting longer loops with taller mountains and began checking off the GA 4ks. These days you can find me on the Benton MacKaye or with my one true love: The Pinhoti.
I’m gonna beat some more mountains.
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