We’d tested it before. After only a few months as a couple, what better way to see if you are compatible: Pack up everything you own, put it in storage, and rent a car one way to Springer Mountain in Georgia. With only what would fit in two backpacks and our pockets, we started hiking north on the Appalachian Trail. Five years ago today.
The test: Live in a tent the size of a dining room table, share a single sleeping bag, one cooking pot, and just about everything else. Okay, we did have our own sporks. But we were together day after day and mile after mile, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After nine weeks we had hiked 525 miles through snow, sleet, hail, sickness, and more rain. When we got off the AT, Sandy summed it up best. “We still liked each other.”
Returning to Florida with no place to live we began our ‘normal’ lives together, finding an 800 square foot condo. Under Sandy’s guidance, I begin my second career as a blogger and travel writer. Our home is also our office. Remember that 24/7 on the AT? It continued as we worked together. It was just our life.
We wrote our first book together, about hiking, of course. For our second book we created The Florida Trail Guide. We’re now researching the third edition and writing yet another new book about the Florida Trail.
When we aren’t writing blogs, magazine articles, books, or working on our website, we are traveling. We’ve been nearly everywhere in Florida and coast to coast across the USA. We have now visited over 27 different states together.
Then there’s the other traveling: Quebec, Panama, Europe and Iceland. Long plane rides, foreign languages, and tiny rooms. Still, we ended each day with a smile of being together.
As we loaded up the canoe, I was trying to remember the last time I had been in a canoe. I’d been kayaking only ten years or so. And Sandy was recalling a very unpleasant canoe trip 17 years ago that ended up very wet.
I have always thought of two things that could truly test a relationship: canoeing and riding a tandem bicycle.
As we slid the canoe into Holmes Creek, our test would begin. To add a bit of challenge to it, why not paddle upstream to the spring on your first paddle together?
I took the rear while Sandy took the front. To stabilize the boat she paddled while sitting low on a life preserver. She was a bit nervous, so I passed the waterproof camera to her and let her record the journey.
Running back with the current, we looked like old pros. Returning to Old Cypress Outfitters, we were dry, happy and “still liked each other.”