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My Inner Calamity Jane

 
09/25/2017 | by Julie Johnson

The elevation in Atlanta is around 1050 feet above sea level. In the North Georgia mountains, elevation ranges somewhere between 1300-1760 feet depending on which part of the mountain you are on. Elevation affects so many things that you may have never previously thought of. For example, every 1,000 feet you go up in elevation, the temperature will drop roughly 3 degrees. That’s why the mountains feel cooler than the flat lands. The air quality also becomes less compressed as you climb in elevation. When you climb higher in the mountains there is less force on air molecules which means the pressure is lower. That bit of trivial knowledge translates across all aspects of mountain living. There is less pressure. There is less force. And now you have scientific evidence to back up the fact that mountain people are just cooler than city folks (pardon the quip).

I grew up in Gwinnett county which is not too far from Atlanta. Moving to the mountains was a bit of a culture shock for me. I was so used to everything moving at a fast pace and the availability of every convenience imaginable. My first lesson in moving to the mountains was that food delivery is a scarce commodity. Homes are spaced so far apart that it just doesn’t make economic sense to have a food delivery service. My second lesson was that malls are nonexistent. I may sound shallow and superficial but this was a major issue for me. Where was I supposed to spend my weekends? Where would I find my retail therapy? Where could I take my kids to pass the time? I struggled with this lesson far more than I would like to admit. Everything felt so secluded and I wasn’t sure how I would adapt.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love this area. My fondness for the towns of Ellijay and Blue Ridge is what provoked me to pick up my roots and travel north in the first place. The mountains have a way of calling to some people just as the sea does to others. The North Georgia mountains may not have food delivery services and malls every other mile, but it does offer a wealth of experiences that I would have never been able to enjoy in the city. So, what did I do? Well, I learned to cook. No offense to the local restaurateurs but nothing beats a home cooked meal. I also learned to entertain myself in ways that didn’t involve valet parking or reservations. I looked to the great outdoors to inspire me to embrace my inner Calamity Jane.

I had always thought of myself as an outdoorsy person. I remember camping as a kid in what was basically small communities of tents. It was like a bad episode of Jerry Springer trailer park edition without the electricity. However, being outdoors in the mountains is totally unlike anything else that I experienced growing up. There is a freedom here that you won’t find anywhere else. There are limitless things you can do outside that require little to no Wi-fi or electricity. What a shocker, right?

Did you know that Ellijay is among one of the top destinations in the southeast for mountain biking? I have honestly tried it a few times and it’s an amazing work out. I would highly recommend that if you are a novice at this, please stop by the Cartecay Bike shop in town for some education. I bought a cheap mountain bike at the local retail establishment against the advice of my mountain biking friends. I almost flipped myself over the front handle bars the first time I had to brake. The near emergency room visit could have easily been avoided with a little education from the experts. Plus, they rent some really good quality bikes if you want to just test drive the experience.

We also have some amazing trails for the adventuresome soul. These trails accommodate everything including horseback riding, hiking and running. Whatever your mode of transportation, you just can’t beat the scenery. However, I do encourage those interested in running to consider the change in altitude that I mentioned earlier. My husband and I had always been fitness buffs. A happy marriage had taken its toll on our fitness regimen and we soon grew fat and complacent. One day, we decided to start running the trails near our cabin to kick off our renewed dedication toward becoming Mr. and Mrs. Olympia. A decade of doting had taking its effect not only on our waistlines, but also on our cardio conditioning. Half way through our run, we were gasping for air and criticizing my new found cooking skills. Although we struggled slightly with our lack of conditioning and the altitude, there is no doubt that the air quality is so much better in the mountains (unless you find yourself living next to a chicken house). Regardless, our runs brought us closer together emotionally even if we didn’t grow closer to our goal of becoming the next power fitness couple.

Living in the mountains has completely changed me for the better. Things move slower here. There are very few food delivery places and fewer mega retail establishments. But there is a plethora of adventure opportunities outdoors. The mountains provide a chance to disconnect with the stresses of your daily grind and reconnect with your loved ones. Whether it’s the altitude or just the people, there is less pressure here. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am and able to live in this paradise every day. However, we are close enough to escape for a brief getaway. If you find that you are tired of the honking car horns on I-85 and crave freedom from the grind… I encourage you to dial into your inner compass and go north where the altitude is greater and the view can’t be beat.