The following post has little — at least directly — to do with journalism or storytelling.
I found myself with a rare opportunity this past week. Having filled in for a coworker on the Saturday morning shift, I was given as compensation a day off the following Monday.
That meant a day off … during the week … with no responsibilities or errands to run.
I instantly headed for the mountains.
I arrived in Atlanta five years ago and quickly became enamored with hiking in north Georgia. Having grown up in the far less scenic state of New Jersey, and spent my early adult years in the relative flatlands of Chicago, Sioux City, Ia., and Buffalo, N.Y., I reveled in the majesty of the mountains, filling my early Atlanta weekends with whatever hikes I could find. By my third summer down South, I had hiked nearly every major trail in Georgia — and some, to boot, in South Carolina and Tennessee.
But in recent years, I had begun to slack off, facing more pressing commitments on the weekends and simply losing some of my early hiking momentum. Aside from that, my knees had become a nagging concern, which made me more hesitant to take on the mountains with the same cavalier spirit of years prior.
Earlier this month I downloaded Bill Bryson’s classic travel book, A Walk in the Woods, in which Bryson and an old friend attempt to hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail from start (in Georgia) to finish (in Maine). This is a classic “holy grail” trip among hikers; every year hundreds of hikers take half a year off and make the trek. Bryson, I soon discovered, is every bit as masterful a writer as I had heard, and he presents the famous trail as a truly fascinating, fulfilling experience.
Turning the pages of his book, I quickly regained my desire to scale the north Georgia mountains.
And I suddenly found myself with just the day to do it. (more…)