Monday, September 17, 2012

Running behind

In almost every aspect of my life these days, I feel as though I am running behind. However, in the case of this blog, I am, in fact, behind by 9 blog posts. I am happy to report that I am still, basically, on track with my hikes. A few people have suggested guest writers, and I am considering it, but I fear that their writing will be much better than mine. In the meantime, I wanted to update you all with the fact that I am hiking about twice a month. In fact, I am scheduling another one for this weekend, September 22nd and I welcome anyone who would like to join.

To date, I have completed 18 hikes and have three and a half months to finished 11 hikes. I am a little behind schedule, but the goal is still achievable. I am going to spend a few moments justifying why I have neglected the blog, but you probably already know my stance on the "I am busy" excuse. The truth is that the blog fell down on my list of priorities.

This summer I took (3) classes when I normally take (2) and my free time dwindled. Along with three nights of class a week, I am borderline over-achiever at work, I refuse to totally relinquish my social life and I am now involved with a new man who is allowed to call me his girlfriend.  I really enjoyed the extra summer class that I took, and believe that it was worth the effort. Work is exciting and challenging and I am never board, which makes me want to work harder, do more and be better. Friends are important and having an outlet for fun keeps a person balanced. The new man is Lucas, he's been a friend for years but we've decided to be more and it is working out great, at least I think so. You'll have to ask him what he thinks about it all. Overall, this summer was busy, but bountiful.

This fall I am only taking one class, however, I am sure to find another list of activities to add to my calendar. Either way, the blog is moving back up on the priority list, and I will finish writing the reviews. The next slew of hikes involves an overnight camping excursion, hikes in other states like North Carolina and Colorado as well as many short hikes close to home.

Again, I apologize for the "radio silence" this summer, but fear not, for I have been hiking and I will meet my goal of 27 hikes!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Get lost on Earth Day: Arabia Mountain

Early in the morning on Earth Day, Melissa, Brandy and I decided to head out for an ambitions 5.1 mile hike as described in 60 hikes within 60 miles of Atlanta. However, as you can see by the Georgia Trails description, it was only about two miles and two bottles of wine for the two of us. Those two miles were breathtaking and when we were only about a quarter mile in Melissa proclaimed that it was her favorite hike so far. You know it must be true, because that was well before we even thought about drinking the two bottles of wine we brought. The goal for the day was to get out and appreciate mother nature, and that goal was thoroughly achieved.

We began the excursion with the intent of a long, exhilarating day with the earth. We went to The Mercantile for sandwiches and wine. The Mercantile, at the time, only offered one non-glass option of wine. The Climber is in a pouch, has a spout and tastes pretty good. The only downside was the size of the serving, two bottles. Both Melissa and I thought that we would have some wine to spare which is nothing to be sad about. Little did we know that we would end up finishing the entire pouch, which, again, nothing to be sad about.


The distance we completed was not difficult. As you begin the trail, it is pretty well marked. The beginning, the markings are on the trees but it quickly turns to a large rock face. At that time, the trail begins to be marked on the actual rock. Eventually the rock begins to climb and there is still markers to follow. Once we made it to the top of the rock, we lost the markers.

I have a sneaky suspicion that the length of our hike had to do with our inability to follow directions. We were so amazed by the beauty and allure of this large rock peppered with pools of water and patches of vegetation that we began frolicking instead of following the markers. Eventually, we could not find any remnants of a trail. With no luck we tried to re-trace our steps and folow a different path at the beginning. Towards the end we tried to re-trace our steps to find and follow the trail but to no avail. Instead we found a second resting spot and played a few more games of cards and eventually finished the wine.

Natural Beauty

As mentioned above, this was Melissa's favorite hike so far. I, too, thoroughly enjoyed it. We were 30 minutes from home yet we felt like we had just taken a road trip to somewhere exciting. It was Earth Day, yet there was almost no one on the trail. As you traveled deeper into the park, you could see the mountain peeking through the trees. However, that was only distracting from how interesting landscape around you. Along the way, until you get to the mountain, it is feels like a large flat rock. The trees come and go, and as they recede you feel like you've found a new exciting place to frolic.
It does not take long to reach the mountain and as you ascend, everything you've seen until that moment seems less astonishing as the next thing you will see. As mentioned we are 30 minutes from my in town abode and the trees around the base of the large rock cover any sign of civilization. The only reminder that we had not in fact driven hours down a dirt road to a secluded haven was the occasional plane flying over head and group of fellow hikers we encountered every so often. On top of the rock, the wind seemed to be blowing us forward and it probably further drowned out any noise pollution.

Eventually we gave up on following any sort of trail and we were just meandering around and exploring the rock top. At about 3/4 the way around the top, we came across a lonely kite that appeared to be abandoned. It was earth day, and we felt that we should probably do the right thing and gather up the kite and the string. I picked up the kite and broke the frame to make it easier to hold. Melissa manned following the string, and I picked up the slack. We followed it up the rock for what seemed like forever. As we were nearing what seemed to be the end, we heard a child's cries. We froze and sat down. I all of a sudden became very concerned that I had crushed this poor child's kite in an effort to make it easier to pick up and throw away. What if at the end of this rope was a sweet innocent child attempting to have a lovely kite outing on earth day. Melissa and I began laughing hysterically at the fear of confessing to this stranger that we had ruined his Incredible Hulk kite and were planning to throw away his prized possession. We soon realized this fear was unlikely, irrational and decided to continue with our mission. We never ran into a a crying child at the end of the line, but we did do our part to leave Arabia Mountain better than we found it.

Dog Friendliness

Brandy was off leash the entire hike, however I failed poor Brandy. I did not even consider the fact that running around on a big rock could wear down her poor little paws and give her doggy blisters. In my defense, she did not make us aware of her pain until we say down for the second time in defeat.
Despite the minor paw injuries, Brandy was having a grand 'ol time running around. The rock also offered plenty of water pockets along the way and the sporadic patches of trees offered shade along the way. Having it so wide open made it easy to keep tabs on her explorations. Next time I will bring booties for her paws, and it will be a perfect dog friendly hike.

After hiking for about an hour and a half, we decided it was time for our picnic. It was quite windy on the top of the rock, so we found a patch of trees and set out the blanket, sandwiches, wine and cards.
It was very easy to find a spot since the entire rock is pretty flat, once you are at the top, and there are plenty of patches of trees spread around. Because we were having such a good time and thoroughly enjoying the view, we probably stayed longer than necessary. However, we were not in a rush and at this time we had not yet given up on finding the trail. We played a few rounds of Rummy 500, my favorite card game to play with a good friend, wine and a picnic.

Once we got lost, we came to terms with the fact that we were never going to find the trail. Instead, we enjoyed where we were. The rock was large and interesting enough to explore for hours. We could have had a million different picnics. There was a section of the rock that seemed to have been mined more than the other, which created more of a stepping stone feel. This area would have also been nice for a picnic. Then towards the base we set up a little picnic that was more secluded and we felt separated from the rest of the world.

I'm glad we got lost on Earth Day. It wasn't the hike we had expected, but all well...

Mental Enrichment
Dogs can get blisters too. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shorter than expected: East Palisades

Towards the end of the week before Earth Day, I as itching to get away from my hectic life and spend some time in the outdoors. Work has really picked up, and I am often staying until 7PM on the days that I am not in class till 9:15. I'm not complaining, I am really enjoying growing in my role at Coca-Cola. Also, there is a reason I am doing my MBA. Challenging my mind in work and school is very rewarding. That being said, my life is so hectic I feel like I don't have time to clean, do laundry, and forget cooking dinner. That week, I was feeling more of the pressures of my busy life style and I knew that a hike would be just the fix.

Luckily, my roommate was willing and able to attend a hike with me both days of Earth Day weekend. The first hike was expected to be 4.5 miles. We were ambitious and hoping to get a good workout in that Saturday morning, April 21st. We packed a sandwhich, I brought my SLR camera and we headed out to East Palisades. Unfortunately, the directions in my favorite book, 60 hikes within 60 miles of Atlanta, were lacking and it took us about an hour to finally reach the trail head. Then, the hike ended up being only 2.5 miles, and a total of 1:21 hours to complete. So, by the end of the day we were in the car about as long as on the trail. However, we had a great time, and Brandy appreciated the chance to run free.


The hike is rated as moderate by and There were a few spots that were uphill and got us to sweat a little bit. I think I would have rated it a little higher in difficulty had we infact hike 4.5-6 miles. As on par with most of the Georgia hikes, there was a map at almost every fork in the road. We stuck to the outside loop of the trail system. Perhaps, if we did a little more zig zagging we would have gotten up to the higher mileage.

When we arrived, it was easy to find the trail head. At one point there was a pretty steep section, pictured here. However, it was not too long and it didn't slow Brandy down. Because the maps were prevelant I would say that it was easy to follow. On the contrary, we thought we would be hiking for double the ground we covered. Therefore, perhaps its more difficult to follow the exact route outlined in the hiking book. I was definitely able to go out for a drink that night, and I did. I got all dressed up for Business School Prom and danced the night away.

Natural Beauty
  For being inside the perimeter, it was very quiet and secluded. We didn't pass too many people on the trail, and it overlooked the Chatahoochee River for most of it. Everyone knows the river is not the cleanest most pristine body of water, but it was still lovely to gaze at. 

Throughout the hike, we definitely felt the presence of Spring. We saw baby ducks, baby cows on the drive in, and baby children every once in a while. Melissa, as a kid used to always eat the nectar from the Honey Suckles and they were in full bloom that day. As a kid I would take, what i called purple buttercups, and rub them on my nose. The sweet nectar of honey suckles is much better. As we walked along the trail, Melissa would gather honey suckles for use to enjoy.
Dog Friendliness
 This trail was wonderful for a dog. Other pet owners had their dogs off leash. It was far away from roads most of time. Except for the home stretch before finishing the hike, she was off leash during the hike.

This next anecdote could also fall under Natural Beauty. As we walked along the Chattahoochee, we came across a family of ducks and some geese swimming in the water. Brandy went ape-shit and leapt into the water in an attempt to grab them, I guess. She then started swimming out after them. Even though Brandy is half lab, she is the WORST swimmer. It looks like she is trying to leap around in the water but there is no ground for her to from which to leap. Its quite entertaining for us, but presumably frustrating for her. Alas, she was unable to snatch the baby ducks from their mother, but she did offer great entertainment. 

There was nowhere great to have a picnic. We ended up sitting on a rock next to the road that lead to the parking lot. It was definitely anticlimactic. I think there

Mental Enrichment: 
You can eat the syrup from a honey suckle.