COUNTDOWN – 7 Days!!!
I can hardly believe it – this is the last Saturday hiking the local MetroParks and State Parks. Next Saturday it will be the real deal – the Appalachian Trail. I remember as a little boy sitting in front of the TV and watching “The Wonderful World of Disney.” Occasionally they would produce a show from Disneyland in California (this was before the creation of Disney World in Florida). I was so enamored with this dream world from Main Street to Fantasy Land; from a saxophone quartet playing live on the streets to the spinning Dumbo ride; from Cinderella’s Castle to Mickey and Goofy shaking hands with all the kids. What a dream to walk these streets. I never made it to California but Florida was doable. I missed it as a boy but showed up as a dad. But when I entered the gates and walked down Main Street I saw it all through the eyes of a ten-year-old. The Appalachian Trail will not be that drastic of a reality check but I think it will be a surreal feeling to actually begin the path that I have been reading about for almost two years.
I headed out to Caesar Creek today to hike the loop trail (maybe for the last time until the fall of 2014). I took my Bear Hang directions and made my first few hilarious practice runs at flying my food bag. If I would have taken my iPad and made an instructional video for youtube, the comedy of errors would have lasted 35 minutes, including at least
twenty tosses before successfully clearing the correct branch, and almost hitting myself in the head with one of the errant tosses. After moving to another location, my second attempt was so much better – making some subtle and not so subtle changes the bag was hung in under a dozen tosses and the process repeated several times. Leaving the trail realizing that I should have been practicing this technique for months, I am determined to hone my skills to the novice level prior to stepping onto the A.T.
Yesterday Cathy and I saw an alumnus and his son hiking at John Bryan State Park. It was great to see Jeremy walking with his son and enjoying a beautiful waterfall together, I was reminded of the reason for my adventure – enabling families of alumni to attend a Christian school. Today at Caesar Creek as I was walking to my Civic after completing the loop trail, I was approached by a distinguished gentleman dressed for hiking himself. He asked if I were preparing for a long hike. I barely got out my plans for the thru-hike, when he asked if I were Hike It Forward. He introduced himself and I realized that he was Todd the Hiker – a fellow blogger! We have been connected online for several months but never crossed paths in the forest. We have been on the same trail at the same time but never met. It was such a joy to finally connect face-to-face with this Christian brother and his lovely wife. After a brief but encouraging conversation I left the parking lot feeling like I had made a friend.
Check out Todd’s blog at http://toddthehiker.wordpress.com/