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    Posted June 23, 2014 by
    North Carolina
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    How I Conquered Turning 30 In The Rain On The Appalachian Trail.


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     jessgeorgia was inspired to share her story by 'the hope that this can inspire other women to embrace turning 30 not fear it. That no matter how old we are rain or shine life is what we make it and the perspective of life is up to us!'
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    My 30th birthday started off as a foggy rainy hot mess.


    A few days prior I was crawling out of my skin with excitement to hike into the Grayson Highlands area of the appalachian trail with my family by my side.


    I heard the stories that it was one of the “best kept secrets” of the United States and Virginia. Pretty big statement and as soon as I heard this area was riddled with wild ponies that was enough for me to believe it was going to be nothing short of sensational.


    I love animals and have always had a huge passion and soft spot for horses. As a teenager I won multiple awards for my English ridding skills with my fearless palomino, butterscotch.


    The thought of me frolicking with them in there element, in majestic mountains, on a bright and sunny day while hiking the appalachian trail with my family could not make for a better way to bring in 30!!


    However, life and mother nature had other plans for how June 12th would be!


    As we awoke that morning it was foggy, muggy, and raining. My husband always says he never sees me move faster then in the rain. I think I was some sort of cat in my past life. I love the rain but from covered areas where I can stay dry and admire it, ha!


    I was so bummed and annoyed.


    Did mother nature not get the memo that for my 30th birthday I was suppose to be frolicking in the sunshine with the f’ing ponies on the A.T.!!! Not hiking on this dreary dark day (pictured below). This was not what I had envisioned, clearly.


    Most of the morning we were hiking with our ponchos in the pouring rain until we found some relief under an enclosed map area along the trail. My daughter and husband were still all smiles (pictured below) making the best of it all and enjoying the adventure!


    I think mostly to make me smile on my birthday. I have the best husband and kid ever.


    So, where am I going with all this?


    What is the point here Jess? To complain about what a crappy birthday you had?


    My point is life is all about perspective.


    As we sat under this enclosure and I saw my daughter and husband still smiling I thought to myself, how dare I be annoyed that it was raining. How selfish!


    I am alive.


    I was given the gift to make it to 30. A gift too many are robbed of so young.


    I am doing something I love with my two favorite people in the world.


    Yet, here I am pissed off that its raining and making the day not enjoyable to hike and cover ground to get to the peaks where the ponies are. And even if we did get to the high peaks the ponies would not be out grazing. They would be somewhere seeking shelter from the storms.


    I was furious this day was not what I was envisioning it to be.


    Everyone is human and its ok to get mad, pissed off, disappointed, and emotional. But I had two choices as we sat under that enclosure…


    1. Let those emotions win, and totally ruin my entire day.




    2. Suck it up and see the beauty in the rain and make the best of it!!


    I decided to go with option number 2. Being miserable was just selfish and ridiculous when I put it into perspective for myself.


    I thought about one of my favorite quotes I refer to when I am feeling down, or struggling, with something in life.


    I actually have it tattooed on my right shoulder so that at exact moments like this one its an eye-opening smack in the face to suck it up, and be grateful.


    “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. Its about learning to dance in the rain.”


    To appriciate that the rain replenishes the mountains. It feeds the springs that provide water for these majestical wild ponies to thrive out here. I changed my perspective and it changed how the rest of my day went.


    No, the universe and “positive thinking” did not magically part the skies and BAM, the rain was gone. It poured all day and so, we made the best of it.


    My point to this post is that while you may be envisioning one thing life might have a different plan.


    Life always seems to have a different plan for you at the most inconvenient times. But the older I get the more I realize that we can either let that make us miserable or we can learn to roll with life’s punches.


    How we react to life coming at us is up to us entirely.


    WE choose to let it make us unhappy or we can choose to throw a hissy fit for a minute, and release that energy and emotions. Then put our big girl panties on and make the most of that situation. That is just life!


    We decided to hike back to the car after that and we had an amazing delicious dinner that night. We found an incredible Mexican restaurant that sat right on the roaring river while it poured.


    We ate delicious food.


    We laughed.


    We celebrated my birthday.


    We got more rain gear in town and explored.


    and the next day we restarted with full bellies and a gorgeous sunshine filled day. Mother nature was in our favor. We were fortunate to be able to frolic and come across more then 20 wild ponies that were out grazing in the fields.


    It was absolutely magical. It was everything I had envisioned and then some. While it might not have been on June 12th (the exact day of my birthday) it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had. Rain and all.


    The next couple of days I took selfies with the majestical wild ponies of the Grayson Highlands….


    We were able to do plenty of frolicking with them as well as admire them…


    We were even trusted enough to give kisses to some of the mothers foal’s….


    We were able to conquer this section of the trail as a family to the top of the highest peak in Virginia, Mount Rogers (5,729 feet above sea level).


    Grayson Highlands Appalachian trail


    About 750 million years ago volcanos erupted here and Mount Rogers, one of these old volcanos is the only remaining evidence of this event in history.


    Mount Rogers forest type is incredibly rare and only found in five other locations in the United States. As you enter it is covered in red spruce and fraiser fur trees that tower above you as well as dead ones scattered on the ground covered in new life, moss (pictured below).


    It actually has no “views” at the top of Mount Rogers. Just this geodetic survey disk pictured below.


    The journey and hike to the top of Mount Rogers is where all the stunning views are actually seen.


    People would easily pay hundreds of dollars a night for the views we woke up to while backpacking the Grayson Highlands section of the Appalachian trail.


    These breathtaking views are only accessible by foot for the few adventures willing to backpack it. This image of one of our campsites truly does the view no justice.


    So, even though the actual day of my birthday was not what I envisoned the couple of days to follow were more then even I could have ever dreamt up.


    This area has by far been my absolutely favorite part the of the Appalachian trail. It is absolutely one of the best kept secrets in America. Not only that but it taught me a few different lessons.


    A few lessons that I quickly applied on the next section of the A.T. while having a full on panic attack as I was convinced a bear was sniffing at my tent in the middle of the night. Longest night of my life, but that is for the next post.


    Much Love,



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