After not being to hang out due to tornadoes, Paul, Rian and I finally met up to go hiking on Sunday. Paul is an avid hiker and had identified Brasstown Bald as the place to go--it's the highest peak in Georgia.
I should remind you that Paul and Rian are MIT and RPI Nuclear Engineering PhD's (respectively). They are in a league of their own when it comes to smarts (but very un-sterotypically social, lively and engaging individuals). Rian, if you do recall from a really long freaking time ago, was the young man whose wedding I attended in Ohio. Paul was the best man. But really I went to that wedding for Rian's wifey, Katie, who I knew when I was an intern at Brookhaven National Lab.
The ride up to the trail was about two hours of catching up with these guys, bouncing ideas around about Atlanta Yoga Scene, entrepreneurship in general, politics, religion, education reform...you know, all those kinds of deep and thought provoking things that I'm unabashedly fearless of bringing up in mixed company. For not knowing each other very long (or even very well), the conversation and company was nothing short of perfect, though. I also got lots of free food out of this trip (thanks RPI!!)
Now, I've been hiking plenty of times before, on our urban trails like Stone Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain (Georgia's most glorified speed bump), Red Top Mountain...you know, the easy paths around Georgia. I used to do these all the time. I've also done a lot of walking, which made me think that climbing this mountain would be easy. Like, what's there to be scared of?
I RUN 10Ks, PEOPLE!
Literally from the first, tiny incline, I felt my heart rate increase and the sudden necessity to keep my mouth shut for fear of sounding like, "yeah *gasp* I totally agree with *gasp* quantum theory *gasp* of subliminal subconscious *gasp* submarines."
It was embarassing...not that I could possibly be embarassed because I was looking like a champ.
Paul and Rian kept on keeping on, walking onwards at a clip that was ever-so-slightly painful. I, however, wasn't going to be the sissy girl who slowed them down, so I pushed on like a machine. I was sweaty, panting, and reallly wanting to break for oreos, but my determination and pride kept me going like the rock star wannabe hiker that I am.
I've known a couple of people that have done some serious hiking (i.e. the Appalachain trail) and I determined, from this one event, that I will never be that person. I do not enjoy hiking that much. I also recognized that I'll never be the person who climbs K2.
Three hours and six miles of hiking? Awesome test of endurance. Anything more than a week? I'd give up at some point and find the road and hitch my way back home.
Anyhoo, it did feel really great to reach the top, walking up to a building that looked straight out of the seventh or so dream level of Inception. There, the guys and I enjoyed the feast we brought with us...beef jerky, cheese, dried fruit and oreos. That really made it worthwhile. Lure me up with food, I'm shameless.
I had asked Paul early in the journey what his *thing* was with hiking. Why climb mountains when there are roads that can get you to the top? Why do you even want to see the view from the top? He didn't have a super psychologically deep answer, but he did say that he feels like he earned the view if he hikes to it. I admid, I kind of get it now--this view was worth burning some calories.
And on the way back down, I was the pace-setter...meaning those boys had to follow my pace. Huzzah!