The Joys of Nature….. and the Opportunity for New Experiences

In my quest to live my ordinary life with a civilized sense of adventure, I recently joined (based upon the advice of a friend) the Atlanta Outdoor Club (AOC). The AOC is an outdoor event-oriented social club established in late 2000. Their focus is offering a wide variety of outdoor events to young-hearted (that’s me), active adults 21 years of age and older.

Each month they have outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, backpacking, and many other activities as well as a monthly social event, and “special” outdoor activities such as survival skills classes, sailing, etc. (http://www.atlantaoutdoorclub.com/)

Their website is very organized. When you sign up, you provide them with a picture (if you want to); your age; your hiking level (beginner/ intermediate/advanced); and other personal information as you choose. They grade each event in regards to difficulty (a D1 is an Easy Hike whereas a D7 is something I would never be able to handle) and pace (slow.. moderate…fast).

As each hiking event is posted, you can click on the Members Registered link to see who has signed up. Each member’s information is included as well as the number of events they attended.

The nice thing is by providing this information, you can determine in advance if you would be a.) able to complete the event without having to be carried to the local ER afterwards and b.) you would also know if anyone else in your age range would be attending (if that mattered to you.)

However, I was somewhat concerned that their definition of “beginner” might still be more intense than my definition. I did not want to join a hike and be the older slow poke gasping for air at the end of the group.

So, I noticed on their website that they have hiking events at the East Palisades and West Palisades Trails which are two trails than run along the Chattahoochee River. These trails are 20 minutes from my home and I thought would give me the perfect opportunity for a trial run by myself so if I had any issues no one else would witness them!

So, last week I hiked some of the West Palisades Trails and yesterday I hiked some of the East Palisades Trails. Last week the weather was perfect—highs in the low 70s and not a cloud in the sky. Yesterday was not quite so perfect ….very windy and highs around 44 degrees. I was grateful for my gloves. But the sky was blue and the air was crisp and that helped make a wonderful day.

The good news is as long as they do not designate the Palisades Hikes a “Fast Paced Hike” then I can do this. There is something just so fabulous about waking along a beautiful river.

The sounds from the interstate become muted; it is peaceful. Both hikes have sections that follow the river and both have areas where you are climbing up and down tall hills (where I had to from time to time stop for a few seconds and catch my breath….but only for a few seconds). So I am encouraged that I will be able to participate in some of their events.

I have also decided that I need a travel companion. Just as Beasley (http://janhman.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/italy-thursday-post-2-beasleys-story/) has joined me for my trips to Europe, I wanted a small furry/fuzzy companion to join me on my hikes. (Beasley turned his nose up when I asked him if he wanted to join me hiking in the woods…. Europe spoiled him.)

Many people take their dogs with them on their hikes so I decided I needed a small dog also to travel with me in my backpack……..thus, the birth of Walter. I have pictures of Walter at the end of this post. So far he seems to be quite pleased to be joining me. (Beasley is a bit miffed about this but I told him he was the one that chose to stay at home!)

Of course after all this hiking, one can get hungry. My son Chris has told me about a Korean Bar-B-Que hole-in-the-wall called Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que which is on my way home from the Palisades Trails (http://www.heirloommarketbbq.com/). Now there is one problem with Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que and that is there is not much parking which means trying to go at high noon or dinner time is very problematic.

However, both days I timed my trips back so that I was passing Heirloom Market around 4:30 PM. I snagged a parking place and I must say that Chris was, as always, right again. I got take-out dishes each time—you can get a meat and two sides so I got the pulled pork and varied the sides—mac and cheese with Korean chili and the second time Korean Sweet Potato Fries with Korean chili.  I will have to say that it made for a great dinner each night.

I spent today hiking Kennesaw Mountain so I decided after all this practice I am ready to hike with the AOC. In my enthusiasm, I have registered for a morning hike next Saturday at Mason Mill Park (they do provide directions…however I really do not know where it is… but as you all know, getting lost going somewhere is nothing new to me…I always factor in time to get lost). 

I am on a waiting list for hike at Johnson Ferry which will take you next to the Chattahoochee River (keep your fingers crossed I will get bumped up) and the final hike is Sunday… a truly fun  sounding “hike”  where we are going to hike/stroll downtown Atlanta in the afternoon where a group of 12 AOC members will stroll through some of the scenic areas of Atlanta. It’s about 5 miles and we’ll pass The Fox, Hard Rock Cafe, The Varsity, The Aquarium, The World Of Coca Cola, the Capitol, Phillips Arena and lots of other cool spots around Atlanta. And best of all…those are that interested can stay for dinner or a quick snack there after the hike.

Is not that perfect??…a hike and dinner afterwards. What is there not to like?

For me, there is something very uplifting about hiking trails (even if I have to stop occasionally and get my breath) and viewing nature up-close. I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to view the greater Atlanta area through the lens of nature and to meet and make new friends.

Below are some pictures from the Palisades hikes!  Enjoy!

jfh

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W. Palisades and the Chattahoochee River—W. Palisades Under I-75—W. Palisades Trail—W. Palisades and having a snack with Walter –E. Palisades and the Chattahoochee River—E. Palisades and the Chattahoochee River—E. Palisades Overlook with Walter—Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que