What did Yoga teach me this week? ..Flexibility of course or “If the boot fits, but is broken, do I still have to wear it?”

I’m not talking about the physical flexibility, but the mental, emotional and situational flexibility, that’s what I’m talking about. Mostly the situational, to be able to change your plans as quickly as life will change them for you, just another place where yoga can come in handy.

My Hubby and I had planned a backpacking trip for months, seriously, months! There are whole sections of the AT, locally, that we have never been on, and we want to get them off our bucket lists.  We had never done the leg from the Terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springers MT in GA to Woody Gap. Now I don’t have as many vacation days as Mike, so we were planning to start the trip together then I was coming out on day 3, heading home and he was going on for 5 more days (lucky Bas***d). A lot of planning went into this trip, we mapped it all out, Mike got a new pack and we planned all the meals, then bought the food and packaged it up in a way that reduces the weight you have to carry. We inspected all our equipment, re stocked the first aid kit and I dusted off my wonderful boots, Lowa’s, made in Germany. I love these boots. Hands down the best boot I have ever owned. Admittedly they have a little age on them and I do not throw something out just cause it’s starting to show a little wear (at my age who am I to judge). So with new insoles (Super Feet Rock!) in my boots, we packed up the trucks, no that’s not a typo ‘truckS’, 2 trucks, more than one. With me coming out of the woods after 3 days we needed a way for Mike to get home when he reached North Carolina, (lucky Bas***d). So the plan was to park my truck at Woody Gap trail head and leave his truck at Springers mt. There are some great folks who make their living on servicing all the hikers who come to the AT, from picking the hikers up and dropping them off or like in our case picking up Mike’s truck, storing it for a week, then delivering it to his take out point. I want that job when I retire! Spend my golden years, living in the mountains, teaching yoga & ferrying ‘thru hikers’ around. Oh yea, I could live like that.

So Friday morning we headed out. We drove about 3 hours; deep into the mountains of North Georgia, to a little town called Suches and from there drove up an old forest service road for another hour and a half, until we reach the parking area for the southern most point on the AT. We were so excited. From the parking area it only was only 1 mile to the top of the mountain, then back down and the trail continues on to Wood Gap, A two-day hike covering about 20 miles.

Where’s the yoga you ask? Patience Grasshoppers.

We get our boots and water bottles out of the truck, I sit down, started to put on my lovely, wonderful 11-year-old boots, the boots that I had on every day for a week, the boots that 2 days before were perfect! Maybe not ‘perfect’ but fine! When I noticed that the heel was starting to come lose! Not just a little bit, but the whole heel was separating from the boot.

Thinking this was a fluke, that this would be the last trip on my old boots and  it would be OK for only 2 days, we applied a little duct tape (duct tape is mandatory for all hikers) and start walking. I only get about 1/2 a mile when the other heel starts to come lose too! More duck tape! I get to the top and realize I can’t carry a 25 lb pack for 2 full days over 20 miles in boots that are falling apart. By the time we get back to the truck, 2 miles total, the soles are almost completely off the boot, in a matter of just a few minutes they had disintegrated! I have never heard of such a thing and certainly have never seen anything like it. Just crazy!

I had decided that the universe was trying to tell me something, you know how Oprah talks about the universe trying to get your attention (yes I watch Oprah, don’t make a big thing out of it) by giving you a little slap on the back, if that doesn’t work then a thump on your head, then a brick to the head?  Well I figured this was my brick to the head (I must have missed the thump and slap completely) saying “oh no you don’t really want to go in the woods, there’s a bear/fire/fall off a cliff going to happen, if you do.

When we got back to the parking area, the lady was there to pick up mikes truck, so we rode back to Woody Gap with her and we put all our stuff in my truck and she drove Mikes vehicle to storage, just because I couldn’t go does not mean Mikes can’t go (lucky Bas***d). I was all prepared to leave him in the woods and sighhhh drive home. But then Mike says “call Richard”.

Oh yea! Richard! My friend Richard, fellow gym rat and a great spin instructor, he owns a cabin in Suches GA!

A cabin that he rents out!

Cell phone service is ‘iffy’ at best up here in the mountains but the universe was on our side and the call goes through, “Richard, ol’ buddy ol’ pal O’mine is anyone staying at the cabin tonight? We need a place to crash” and I told him why, he says no one is expected until Monday and that the cabin had just been cleaned from the folks that left that morning! So with directions to the cabin and a new plan in hand we head out. We’re going to rough it….. by staying at Richies beautiful cabin, sitting on the porch swing and drinking wine! Richard, all you need is a hot tub, I’m just sayin’.

And that is how Yoga keeps me flexible. The Universe is always going to try to throw ‘wrenches’ in your works’. Baby, that’s just life. I could have gotten upset that the plans went awry or even angry. I could have felt like all that time spent planning and prepping had been wasted. Instead, you breathe, you take a moment to reassess the situation and make a conscious shift in your thinking; you choose to move in another direction. You make a choice, to move in a positive direction, with equally pleasant results, just different results. No matter what comes at us, from people or circumstances, it’s how we choose to re-act that matters. Everything in life is our choice. How we choose,  is how move, how we live. When we live a yogic life, beyond just the asana practice we realize that the peace we find on the mat will follow us into the world, if we let it. If we choose it.

So instead of sleeping on the ground, under the stars, breathing fresh air in surroundings so quiet you can hear your own heart, we ended up drinking wine, holding hands and swinging on the porch of a beautiful cabin, deep in the woods.

Equally pleasant, just different.

Om Shanti


I  wrote a few Haikus about our trip, they are here.