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Monday, June 14, 2010

Spirituality in 604 Steps

I am no longer a casual hiker. It is official. We started The Canyon Climbers Club this weekend.

Our friends, Mike and Christine, had their engagement party at Amicalola Falls on Saturday. Tara and I talked about it and decided we should get a room to stay and hike on Sunday. After all, Amicalola is on the required hiking list for the club!

Of course, I waited until the last minute to book a room. I always wait until the last minute.  I seem to always think there is more time than there actually is.  (Just ask my friend, Kelly - she will tell you about the panic attacks she has had leading up to our many trips, New York, Florida, etc.  I am not a good plan-ahead type of girl!)  Anyway, this was not the best time to be a no-plan-ahead kind of girl, as a bunch of family came to the party from out of town, and needed rooms and cabins. When I finally called, the nice lady that answered the phone. The conversation went a little like this:

Nice Lady: “I only have one room left. Would you like it?”
Me: “YES! Er, yes, ma'am, please.”
Nice Lady: “It's a king bed, on the first floor. The view is nice.”
Me: “PERFECT! Er, okay, thank you very much.”
Nice Lady: “You really lucked out. We are booked for the whole weekend, even the cabins are all full.”
Me: (Thinking: 'I KNOW! My friend is having an engagement party and I'm a dumbass for not booking this shit earlier!!!') Speaking, “Wow, that's great. Thank you so much.”

We got a room. Barely. Thank god!

Saturday morning, we begin the drive up. After a few obligatory stops on the way, we are headed north. In the car, with coffee, smokes, and conversation, we are headed out to celebrate with friends and then on to conquer a goal feels amazing.

Saturday was gorgeous. There could not have been a better day for an outdoor party. The music, as always, was rockin'. The scenery was great. Good food. I met lots of great people and laughed a lot. We had a couple hours between the band's final song and the bonfire. Tara and I decided to try our luck at finding a Starbucks. The GPS said it was only 6 miles away. WRONG. It was 26 miles away. Not 26 highway or city miles...26 COUNTRY miles. We were late for the bonfire. It didn't matter. It was fun. And worth every minute!

Sunday morning, we woke up to pack and meet Pam and Ric in the dining area for breakfast before our big hike. Ahhh...the hike. 604 Steps up. And then down. Two miles total. But a strenuous two miles it will be. We took a lot of stopping breaks. Water, pictures, sit down. Water, pictures, sit down. Hike. Hike. Hike.

But, oh, the journey is well worth it! The waterfall is a sight to see. It is amazing to see this beauty up close and personal from all angles and levels! We reveled in every moment. There were silly pictures and fun pictures, pictures alone and pictures together. There are pictures without any of us in them – the beauty around us too great for human tainting.

There were times when we split off from each other, Pam and Ric enjoying the moment together, Tara and I enjoying...and other combinations of the four of us. Even times when we were all somewhat separated – just enjoying this in our own spiritual way. Together and alone, we all felt something that powerful.

I deeply enjoy the conversations that happen on the trail. It has been my experience (even though I'm not a seasoned hiker) that, though I may already know the person I'm with, a conversation on a trail is much more intimate and personal than in the outside world. It opens people up and brings them together. There is a sense of unity, of wholeness that takes place there.

Once we reached the top, we were suddenly invigorated. Our exhaustion lifted some, and the joy of the climb filled our lungs and our beings. Walking down, the lyrics were light, our hearts filled with pride. The other side of the waterfall is earth and woods, with berries and trees and nature. We even saw a couple buzzards overhead. Nature in all its wonder.

Once in the air conditioning of the visitor's center (ahhhhhhhhh...air conditioning!), Tara and I got our first punch on the Canyon Climbers Club Cards, and Pam and Ric bought their own membership! They will be hiking the other three trails along with us!

More spiritual expierences are sure to come, as they did Sunday.