Take a hike

IMG_5126We ascended a rocky path toward a brilliant winter sky. Below us, the Chattahoochee River groused loudly about the previous night’s rain that quickened its pace and muddied its attitude. Beneath two layers, my skin tingled with the onset of perspiration. We happily filled our lungs with pure Georgia air. A dog barked, arguing with the roar of traffic along I-285.

I-285?

Woodland hikes have become a thrilling addition to my weekend commutes. My wife and I are committed to finding a new trail to explore as often as possible. Amazing to me is our ability to find peaceful rustic paths within earshot of conflicting concrete.

Our latest jaunt took us to the Rottenwood Creek Trail, which is sniffing distance from Highway 41 and Cumberland Boulevard. We followed the Chattahoochee River until a clearing took us upward and seemingly light years from the city. For a moment, we were in the north Georgia mountains, eons from worry and responsibility. Of course, my wife owns a quick pace, and our ascension eventually provided us a distant view of a towering urban neighborhood. A fast right turn, and we were back in the comforting arms of Georgia’s idyllic beauty.

IMG_5125When I say we, I’m talking about me, my wife, and our tongue-wagging companion Dexter. Note to the federal government: our black and white mutt now owns a large portion of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Dexter’s favorite hike involves one back leg. His prominent scent should be enough to stake his claim.

There are dozens of inviting trails in the metro-Atlanta area that will willingly transform you toward an Appalachian experience. In recent weeks, we’ve tried the Sweetwater Creek trails west of town, the Gold Branch Trail in Cobb County, and the East Palisades Trail inside the perimeter. We could stroll with a different calming view every day of the year, and never venture more than a half-hour from the exhausting gridlock of Atlanta.

These long walks are vital as I continue to heal from knee surgery. It has become a welcome exercise, a comforting diversion, a convenient getaway. I’m blessed to have a wife who enjoys these off-beat treks as much as I do. We seem to lose ourselves in conversation, healthy movement, and the soothing environment.

And Dexter? Well, every pine, every shrub, every rock is a potential rest stop. He strains the leash to the maximum as he charges every hill. Then, he stops to mark and relieve. I don’t know how he does it. I counted today. During a four mile walk, that dog accomplished nineteen pit stops. I’m not exaggerating. Sometimes a dribble, occasionally a stream, our panting pet was most certainly void of fluids by the end of our venture. Whatever makes you happy, Dex.

If you’re not into the rustic side of Georgia, I suggest you try the Beltline. It is growing into Atlanta’s most appreciated gem. Paved for pedestrians or bikes, the Beltline provides a crowded tour of urban revitalization. You can whisk by nearly forgotten symbols of Atlanta history that have received an energetic transfusion. Be warned, if you take to the Beltline on a sunny weekend, you’re going to face sneaker-to-sneaker traffic.

I think it’s pretty awesome that a city so devoted to the automobile is learning to walk.

Give it a try.

Just remember. You might stroll through property owned by Dexter.

He won’t mind.

 

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