50in50by50 State #2: Georgia
50K in 50 States by 50 Years Old
The Road So Far: Georgia— approximately 3500Km from pre-2010
I trained for sprint triathlons, jogged several miles per week, and was generally active in the heat of Savannah in those heady days of the new millennium. Who knows how far I actually went, but many kilometers were logged.
Georgia is where I claimed my physical presence, and fought off the first layer of damage done by growing up with people who actively took away anything I enjoyed, particularly if it was in the physical realm. For whatever reason they saw any enjoyment of physical movement as some sort of thing that had to be destroyed, and they did a damn good job of it.
In my early days in Georgia, I got up to 260 pounds (at 5'4"), was severely depressed, and had a terrible relationship with, well, mostly everything. It’s not uncommon for people who grow up in an abusive environment to retreat the way I did, and to have disordered relationships with their bodies like I did. Not to mention living in the constant stress of these environments, which amps up our bodies’ desire to store fat.
Don’t ask me what changed, because I honestly don’t remember. I just remember getting to a point that I was in so much emotional distress that I had to do something. Walking was the something that made me feel a little bit better, so I did that until I could do more, and more, and then I discovered triathlons and the encouraging community of folks in that space. I eventually got down to about 145 pounds.
Spoiler alert: a decade has passed and introduced lots of new stressors, so I started on this long distance walking path most recently (in 2020) at about 190 pounds. I’m not walking to lose weight, I’m walking for mental and physical health. I don’t walk distance for anybody but me — unplugging to just be away is what it’s about, and cultivating an appreciation that I can rely on my body to take me where I want to go.
Where to get some distance in Georgia
I haven’t been to Georgia in over a decade, but most of this hasn’t changed as far as I know. My favorite places:
- In and around downtown Savannah from the river up through Forsyth Park and beyond. You can’t go wrong weaving in and out of the grid layout, exploring the squares, watching as people get super confused about how to drive around the squares… and of course stopping off for food and beverages from the always on-trend places that make sense in a city that is the home of SCAD.
- The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (fair warning: the bugs are murderous so bathe in DEET first). This is an excellent place to see shore birds and raptors among many others and has great paths to wander for hours. The loop road is for cars and is a few miles long, and there are dykes that criss-cross the whole thing that easily add miles and fantastic wildlife sighting opportunities too. Technically this is in South Carolina if that matters for your state count.
- The Old Tybee Railroad rail trail and Fort Pulaski National Monument. More bugs, more DEET required. Beautiful rail trail with water on both sides that runs about 6 miles total on an out and back if memory serves. If you add in Fort Pulaski you can easily get 10 miles or more, while running into birds, deer, and a lot of natural beauty.
I was obviously a Savannah resident and that shaped my favorite spots. Other favorites of mine are exploring Civil Rights history in Atlanta and wandering the mountains around Helen.
If you’re in and around Georgia, add your favorite long walks to the comments.
Celebrating Georgia Indigenous Voices
The Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee are a tremendous resource for history, language preservation, and education. Exploring their web site and videos is time well spent.
There are three tribes recognized by the government of the state of Georgia, and the Native American population is approximately 0.3%. Like in Alabama, many of these folks are the descendants of people who refused to leave their homes and walk the Trail of Tears.
I have set myself a goal of completing at least 50Km in all 50 states by the time I’m 50. To acknowledge that I’m traveling on land that was stolen from others, I am donating $500 to the First Nations Development Institute for each state I complete.
Thank you for reading and supporting me on this journey. If you’re able to chip in — for your state, or for all 50 states — you’ll help me double the impact I’m able to make on my own.
If you’re from Georgia or living there right now, help me lift up indigenous voices in your state by recommending an indigenous-led organization that supports the cultural and economic vitality of indigenous Georgians.