There are so many life lessons being learned each day, I can hardly keep up.  

When we arrived in Atlanta last Sunday, our driver, Duffy, let us know our packs were too heavy, and at that point the water bottles and Camelbacks were still empty.  What choice did we have though?  We had to have food to feed the seven of us.  

Sunday morning, when we loaded our bags, Josh Saint, owner of the Hiker Hostel and AT Thru-Hiker, asked if we are starting at Amicalola or Springer.  When we told him that we were starting at Amicalola, he looked at us with eyes full of doubt.  Our packs were heavy, and those 600+ stairs were sure to be a beast.  

We poured over gear, analyzed every item again and again.  Our base weight was favorable.  Then came the food!  And the water!  The truth was undeniable when we hung our packs on the scales at Amicalola.  Our packs were too heavy.  We made certain that Ava, Zoey, and Riley were in our target range for their growing frames, but the rest of us were buckling into unexpected weight.  

We proved it was doable by hiking the first ten miles.  However, there is a chasm between doable and necessary.  

In this, our first week, we are learning the true meaning of Earl Shaffers words “carry as little as possible, but choose that little with care”. 

How much does this parallel with life?  Why do we choose to carry extra  baggage that we are not meant to carry?  Yes, it is possible to make it through life with all the extra weight, but is it possible that by choosing not to let go, we are in fact hindering ourselves from seizing opportunities that could reap unparalleled reward and joy?  

When we arrived at camp each night after only a few miles of carrying our packs, we were exhausted.  There was not really any energy left for what we anticipate will be the true benefit of being out here in the woods… fellowship.  Fellowship with God, with eachother, and with those who cross our paths.

Leaving the trail on Tuesday left us feeling a little down and out.  We knew it was the right choice for our safety, and we were left speechless at the way God provided for us, but there existed a hint of disappointment in each of us.  We knew we had to buy gloves in order to return to the mountain.  And we did!  But this afternoon, we chose to take along and serious look at our packs, evaluating the usefulness of each item.  We reevaluate who should carry what items, and created a system that makes far more sense… based on our experiences from the first two nights on the trail.  When we lifted the packs to our backs, we were giddy at how light they felt.  We feel confident that we are better prepared… With fast less stuff!!!

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