|Today was one of those absolutely gorgeous days to go hiking -- cobalt blue sky, bright sunshine,
and around 80 degrees.
I hadn't been on any hiking trails in many months and was getting way out of shape so I headed out to Kennesaw
Mountain National Battlefield Park to start getting back in shape. The park was jammed packed with
visitors and I had to drive around the parking lot about eight times before I caught
someone leaving and quickly secured their now empty parking spot.
People and dogs -- there were hundreds of them out today on the trails. As I started off walking slowly on the
paved mountain road (goes all the way to the top) and had gone about a quarter of a mile to a turn off for the trail
I was going to take, my legs almost immediately started telling me,
"What the hell are you thinking -- we're dying down here."
The hike today would be about 6.5 miles in length. I would first hike 4 miles all the way around the base of the
mountain from the Visitor Center to where the trail I was on merges with a trail from Burnt Hickory Road
that comes back to the Visitor Center 2.5 miles away by first climbing up and over Pigeon Hill, then
up and over Little Kennesaw Mountain and finally up and over Big Kennesaw Mountain.
Needless to say, the first miles of the hike was basically easy as the trails and old road beds here that I hiked on
just went along on level ground or gently sloping inclines and depressions. Unfortunately, the last
2.5 miles -- the up and over the mountains part -- was another story.
After stopping on the top of Pigeon Hill, I parked my tired body on a cool rock in the shade to rest my legs. I also
ate some trail mix and loaded back up on water. When I got up to start back hiking and took my first step, I knew
it was going to be a LONG, painful way back to the car -- especially since I had two mountains
to climb before I even reached the point where it would be downhill all the way.
Do not let the word downhill fool you. Any hiker will tell you that most of the time, it is NOT the distance or
climbing that you do that makes you hurt the most but the act of going downhill and using muscles you do not
normally use that much that will do the most damage. It is sort of like driving (downhill) with your brakes on --
your body is constantly trying to slow your forward momentum down and this (over time) will
play hell with muscles you didn't even know you have!
All in all it was a wonderful, peaceful hike and I loved every minute of it. Even though it was crowded -- more so
than I normally like to see when I hike -- the crowds and a few snarly dogs didn't both me that much.
The distant views from the mountain sides at places where you can sort of peek out of the tree cover and
especially when you're on the tops of the mountains were fantastic -- you could see forever it seemed.
Fall colors were everywhere and even late blooming wildflowers added to the overall beauty of the hike.
After reaching the bottom and crawling up into my Suburban to start my trip home, I knew that tomorrow was
going to bring some pain into my life. Little did I know then how wrong I was. By the next day,
I could hardly walk it was so painful.
But, I toughed it out and even went back to the Park two days later and hike 2.5 miles to let the legs know that I
was still in charge and to just get over it and buck up -- more hikes are coming!