Saturday, February 15, 2014

So We Moved To Appalachia

In April of 2013, I made the big decision to move the family from our very comfortable digs in New Jersey to the North Georgia Mountains. For this native Brooklynite who had tried Maryland once but moved back North because Baltimore seemed too southern, this came as a shock to nearly everyone I know. YOU'RE MOVING WHERE? THE SOUTH? GEORGIA? Yeah, but in the mountains. THERE ARE MOUNTAINS IN GEORGIA? WHAT???

We packed up our apartment at one boarding school in lush and beautiful Central New Jersey, and headed down South to our new boarding school in the North Georgia Mountains. (Ok, it didn't happen that quickly-I stayed at my parents' in Brooklyn for the summer and did this, this, and this!) The day after my son got home from camp, which was coincidentally the same day that I did my last NJ Trail Series Race (Wildcat Ridge Romp-a must do), we got in the car and drove 15 hours to our new home.

We live in the part of Georgia that is surrounded by the gently (and severely) sloping old-soul Appalachians. There is a certain air of mystery that pervades the area-it's palpable even. Summer mornings can be quite foggy, and then the most beautiful and bright sunlight breaks through the mist revealing the most sweet and cantankerous appendages of the earth.

Part of what lured me to the South, because NOTHING ELSE WOULD as a born-and -bred New Yorker (ok, maybe the job offer did, a little...), were the mountains and the possibility of trail upon trail upon trail. It was always my intention to end up in the Adirondacks, in New York State. Ever since my first public school outing to those mountains, I have been hooked. Okay, so I'm not in my home state, but I am in the mountains which happen to be in Georgia, and they are scary, beautiful, enveloping, and comforting.

Each mountain, hill, valley, knob boasts a particular character. One may be forgiving, the other strict and unyielding. One may be quiet and unassuming, the other bossy and loud.  The wonderful thing about all of them is that they are all at my doorstep. Do I want to run a steep and windy road? Step out the door. Do I crave some gnarly, technical trail? Run a quarter of a mile down the road, enter trail.  Do I want to summit the highest mountain east of the Mississippi? Done.

After a fairly difficult transition period (including a bout of a weird Lyme Disease-like sickness), we are now nicely settled in a house that faces the eastern ridges of the Appalachians. Most mornings I am up early enough to watch the sunrise from my front windows (when it's -6 degrees out like, this ENTIRE winter), my front porch, or while I'm out engaging in my life-giving and -affirming early morning runs.

There are two serious negatives. I am far away from my family. For someone who is pretty well-traveled and has spent tons of time away from home (as in boarding school and then college) it has been really difficult to have to drive twelve hours just to see family. Now, I'll just have to settle for thru-hiking the AT, and visit them that way, because apparently that is an expectation if you are even remotely outdoorsy down in these parts. The other negative (ok, maybe this one is not so serious-but it is, I swear!) is that NOTHING IS FLAT. NOT A DARNED THING! Even the hallway where my classroom is located is sloped. Yep, I have moved to a no-flat zone and it's taking its toll on my legs, heart, and ego!

Running-wise, moving to Georgia has been a gift. I was afraid it would be difficult to meet new runner-friends, but is has been really easy, and I've even been able to convince some walkers that walking was boring and that they should be running! I've been fortunate to assistant-coach the cross country team, running twice a day most days in the cool mornings and scorching afternoons. 

I get to run by expansive cow-grazing fields, corn fields, evergreen forests, old-growth forests, lakes, rivers. I get to climb over cow-gates, run in snowstorms, do burpees in the mud, and challenge my own perceptions of what it means to be alive, and well. 

I have much to learn about Georgia. The people, the customs, the culture, the ethos. Running here has brought me closer in an organic way to the birth-state of my maternal grandmother. It has deepened my spirit of adventure and has proven that stepping or running out of the box has great rewards. For that, I am grateful.


  1. I enjoyed the read! After 8 years of living here, sometimes I catch myself forgetting what beauty surrounds us for a second. Since it's a requirement, I guess you better hike the A.T. with us this summer!

  2. Mirna, a beautifully written blog! Love your sense of adventure! Makes me want to come and run the trails with you! I, too, love the mountains and told Ken we need to retire near some someday... Thanks for inspiring the rest of us who sometimes get stuck in our mountainous "ruts"!

  3. Welcome to GA. I was born and raised in Paeterson, NJ and moved to Atlanta in 2000 with my late husband. Good thing you came with a job and a family....

  4. Awesome post. And, though I'm not in Georgia, welcome to the south! We're glad you're here and I look forward to reading more of your adventures. :)

  5. I love running the Apps! I live in Atlanta and can never turn down an opportunity to trek a little north and run the trails...Hope to see you at a local race soon!!