Back on the Trail

I turned the calendar to July, and arrows spearheaded through the neat seven-block rows making up each week of the month…friends making true on their promises to come see for themselves how awesome Charleston is, a week of wedding festivities, the annual Compton family adventure. And then boom. In a hurricane of friends and fun, July was gone. With the start of August the end wraps up, creeping perilously close to the daunting date of returning to academia.

WHEN would I go backpack and third wheel my favorite married couple? Looking back at June, it seemed like I had squandered the month away (in some ways I did. I’m okay with that now, but those dog days demand another post entirely, and I hope to write it soon). After I relinquished my dream of backpacking half the AT this summer, I contacted a few potential people who I thought would be willing to hit the trails with me on individual trips. Wesley was one, and man was that an awesome start to the month of May. The lovely newlyweds Hannah and Bennett Dixon were on my hit list also. If ever there were soul mates, Hannah and Bennett are them. Having graduated from Furman and UNC, they’re basically intelligent granola-ey, Jesus-loving ultra-bike riders who complement each other perfectly. Their spontaneity keeps it interesting, and they’re always down for some fun. Bennett’s hair was pretty scruffy for quite some time, and his bandanna and plastic orange juice seal ring have long been his signature accessories. Last summer I helped convince him to cut his hair to a more presentable length, and Mama did the honors. He looked gooood.

Don’t let the smile fool you – I have never seen anyone so despondent. It was like we cut out a part of his identity, which, I guess we had. He came around, though, and has been keeping it trimmed even since. With his side part and thick beard, his resemblance to a Civil War soldier is striking.

I worked with Hannah at camp several summers ago. She was known in college, as the girl with the wild-but-beautiful golden hair who ate a garden patch of vegetables in the DH everyday. She also wore Chacos during her wedding ceremony, just to give you an idea of the down-to-earth flower child we’re talking about here. This summer, Hannah and Bennett are living in a small mountain cabin out in the middle of nowhere, serving as the rangers of land around Tuckasegee. Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either. Since they’re near tons of trails anyway, they said I was welcome anytime this summer, just touch base and we would figure something out.

Hannah and Bennett don’t have cell phone reception unless they go into town. Oh, and one of them also lost a phone, so they have been sharing the other’s since May. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to reach them or if they would be free, but as I surveyed my calendar, there was a small gap of free time this coming week so I gave it a shot. It took about 48 hours to get a response, but they’re expecting me July 9-11! This is our texting conversation as we tried to figure out some logistics


.Oh, Bennett. We are headed to Panthertown Valley, in a three person tent, I’d like to add. And yes, that is where I went on my first backpacking trip in eighth grade and ended up lost on some abandoned logging road. They say the maps have improved since then, and with friends that know the area so well, hopefully all I’ll have to worry about are the unusually high number of sunbathing rattle snakes in the area and some making out love birds. At this point in my life, my third-wheeling skills are pretty fine tuned, so I think I can handle it :-).

Anyway, since I’m going up there, I figured I should make the most of my time. I will miss our annual Cove Creek Camping trip this summer, and I need a North Carolina mountain fill; my legs crave an upward climb, my lungs yearn for a few crisp evenings, and my soul starves for some genuine time with the Lord.  After a bit of research I decided to head up to Clifside Lake and Van Hook Glade for some easy afternoon hikes and safe camping. Wednesday morning I’m planning on hiking Yellow Mountain Trail in the Highlands Ranger District before meeting up with the dream team.

In an increasingly usual fashion, I just figured all this out, so it hasn’t quite gotten the Mama stamp of approval. I so easily could have stayed in Charleston and waltzed through a few days without ceremony; between my TESOL class and applications, there is always something to be done. But adventures are important, too. They require breaking up the arrows in the calendar, stepping away from the craziness of everyday life, sacrificing time that could be spent earning money, and going for it. Adventures keep us from living through a never-ending daze. They wake us up the way a dumped bucket of ice-cold water does. Adventures reconnect us with both our fears and our passions. They’re worth it, and I’m excited for this one.

Apparently Cain is coming now! Yay for brother-sister time! Woohoo!

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