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Been Away From Nature For Too Long? Here's How to Make a Comeback.

A story of returning to the outdoors.

By: Andrew Todd + Save to a List

Perhaps it was just that it was August, and I don't particularly love heat and humidity, or maybe it was just that life had gotten really busy. Regardless, it had been an embarrassingly long time since I had been on a hike, and I was ready for a comeback. That comeback came in the form of one of the closest hikes to where I live, about an hour away, Yonah Mountain.

Yonah is the first sizable "mountain" you encounter as you head north up GA 400, through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Rising from about 1600 feet to 3200 feet, Yonah Mountain is a relatively steep hike, taking 1 - 1.5 hours to cover the almost 2 miles from the parking area to the summit. Since it's pretty close to Atlanta and not too difficult of a hike, it can be quite crowded at times, but arriving at the trailhead at 7:30am helps!

Overall, the trip to the top is not especially technical or strenuous, though there are definitely some steep stretches of trail, along with slippery rocks if it's been raining. You can check out more details and features of the trail here on The Outbound.

Yonah was not the highest priority on my list of hikes to do next, but since I hadn't hiked in 2 or 3 months, I chose it because I had no excuses handy for not doing it.

This day-hike began with 100% humidity and fog, and later in the day the temperature headed up toward 90 degrees - not the most enjoyable conditions, but I was determined to make the best of it and get back in the habit of spending time outdoors. Fortunately, I was reminded of some of the things I love about being outdoors along this hike - sometimes we just need to push ourselves out the door and clear away the cobwebs.

The terrain of this trail was interesting in that it varied from packed-earth, to rock-strewn switchbacks, to what looked like a washed out creek-bed, to gravel, with a bit of scrambling thrown in toward the top!

A really great thing about Yonah Mountain is that it is not a hike without reward - once you reach the summit you'll be provided with near-360 degree views of the surrounding area, though you'll need to do a bit more walking around the mountain to get them.

Additionally, there are some great rock-climbing opportunities and also a few campsites scattered along the trail.

Even though it was a hot, steaming day, there was an increasing flow of people arriving as the morning progressed, & the recent rain made the trail very slippery, this was a great return to hiking for me.

That excited feeling that comes when you're getting close to the top of a mountain was a real rush that I hadn't even realized I was missing.

Here are my quick tips for getting back out on the trail if you've been away for a while:

  • If you don't have any big trips already planned and scheduled, then try choosing a hike, climb, biking route, or camp spot that's easy to get to and enjoy as quickly as possible. Don't waste time on charting intricate routes or reserving campgrounds right now. Lower the bar for yourself and get outside asap.
  • Don't keep waiting for the perfect time, conditions, or even people to come along. Those great conditions will appear sooner or later if you get outdoors often enough, and friends' schedules have a way of opening up when you're constantly inviting them out! The important thing is to get started and then stick with it.
  • Remind yourself of why you love being outdoors. Get on The Outbound, read some hiking stories, watch some climbing videos, whatever you need to do to get a little inspiration and remember what you've been missing.

The best time to get outdoors is right now. See you out there!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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