When someone hears about our plans to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2014 and then takes a look at Athena, the most common reaction I get is a laugh followed by,
"You better plan on carrying her."
Don't get me wrong. I know I'm going to carry her some. I just don't agree that I will carry her to the extent that other people seem to think I will have to. Athena is constantly amazing me with what she is capable of. Every so often she shows even shows me that I'm capable of things I didn't think that I was.
On Monday we began our hike by going down a steep set of steps. Athena stood at the top of the steps. She looked back and forth between the steps and then back up to me with this little frown. Athena and I are such a great team because we're very in sync. She didn't even have to give me her "pick me up" whine. I said to her, "It's okay, I can carry you down." I picked her up and headed down to begin our hike.
Later we came to a fork in the path. To our left was a wide, easy, gradual, very tempting, downhill trail. To our right was a muddy, trail that seemed to lead straight up with wooden steps carved into the steep hill. I had no idea how far up it went and I knew that it would be tough for both of us. I didn't even wait for Little Boss to state her opinion by veering off towards the path she preferred. I'm not sure if she'd even seen it yet. I just told myself "It's not a mountain" and made the choice to take the climb instead of the literal "easy way out" to our left.
From here on out anytime someone says that I'll have to carry Athena I will think of that short but challenging climb. As we ascended, Athena stopped meandering and sniffing and just focused. I love it how Athena gets this single minded focus in moments like this. She is stubborn and determined, confident and calm. The climb wasn't easy for either of us.
But in that moment, Athena is the one who carried me up that hill.
I really hate winter, especially February. This winter was the worst. It dragged on forever. I'm not exaggerating at all that this was the worst winter of my life. There are a lot of valid reasons why blogging wound up falling off the priority list all together. But spring is here and we are gaining momentum towards all of our goals.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Our ultimate goal is to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2014. I'm out of shape and Athena is a baby, so we really have a long way to go before we even set foot on the trail. Not to mention, figuring out the logistics of funding and planning the adventure. I've been getting so overwhelmed with the whole thing so this morning Athena and I hopped in the car, cranked up some music, and drove to Mounds State Park for some hiking.
Athena and I have never taken a road trip together (even a really short one like today) so she was pretty confused at first. Once we hit the trail though, she was in her element. I realized right away that Athena needs a lot more experience in the woods before she'll have really good trail manners. She just needs to get used to the sounds of birds calling and creatures rustling through the forest.
One of the magical things about Mounds State Park are, well, the mounds. There are 10 earthwork mounds built by the Adena-Hopewell people. These mounds were used as a place to gather for religious ceremonies and observing the heavens. They were special and sacred places reserved for ceremonies associated with life, death, renewal and connection. Athena and I stopped at the Great Mound, constructed around 160 BC, to give thanks for the day and the opportunity to take the first steps on our epic journey.