Given my 84-mile hike coming this July, I’ve been trying to spend more time on my feet when there’s a free weekend, as I need to break in my new shoes (I went with waterproof Merrell Chameleons) and build my endurance. Since the days leading up to our walk will be spent touring the UK with the children, I figure I should bring them along for training.
Normally at this time of year, Atlanta might be up to 60-something degrees, but this year, it’s been high 70s, so we’ve been trying to spend as much time as possible outside. Last weekend, we started with a picnic by the Chattahoochee River before hiking near Sope Creek.
We even brought Winnie the dog.
I bought an Olympus “tough” camera that the children can use on our trip this summer, so we’ve begun practicing with it as well (all pictures in this post were taken with it).
After eating, we began walking an easy loop trail of about 1 mile. My 7-year-old son almost immediately began whining about hurting feet and not liking hiking. My bride stayed in the rear of our pack to try and talk him out of his grumpy attitude (I’m not so good at being patient with whining).
Meanwhile, my 5-year-old daughter ran the entire trail. In fact, I could hardly keep up with her. Every few minutes or so, I’d round a switchback and find her waiting on me in some sort of pose, such as these:
I didn’t prompt or encourage these poses; she just did them.
It reminded me of my friend Glenn’s rehearsal dinner down in Destin, Florida in 2006, when I went AWOL from my deployment to Andrews AFB to attend. We were at a beachside bar, and my bride was pregnant with our now 9-year-old, when I very publicly asked why she wasn’t drinking like the rest of us, so that we could “have a little Forrest” while pointing to her belly. For some reason, she failed to see the humor in this, but I brought it up at the conclusion of our hike on Saturday, pointing out that we now have, in fact, a “little Forrest” (but without the mental challenges). I suggested we add “Born to Run” to our bedtime stories list.
Eventually, the rest of the family caught up to our youngest, and they allowed a rare moment of across-the-board smiles as they wallowed in the grass next to the bike path that brought us back to the parking lot after the loop trail.
When we got back, we decided to book a trip to the Len Foote Hike Inn during their spring break next month. It’ll mean 5 miles up a mountain at the southern edge of the Appalachian Trail, spending the night at a rustic hotel at the top, and hiking back the next day. I figure it’s time to see if “little Forrest” can live up to her nickname and if her ornery brother can learn to like hiking like the rest of his family. And, my bride is currently writing a murder mystery requiring sewing a quilt to solve the mystery, and it’s set there. So, it’s research on multiple levels! Hopefully, it’ll even be fun.
We will all be hiking people. Even if some of them have to be bribed or coaxed into it. Mountains, ho!