My first real steps toward the AT and my voice in the community
This feels like day one:
I took the first two real steps to my AT journey this week: 1. I registered with ATC so I am eagerly anticipating the bright yellow tag with the AT insignia in the mail so I can dangle it from my backpack and, 2. I told my children about my plans. These two things, beyond the backpack, tent, stove and all other paraphernalia, make this trip more real and they have also removed a weight from me that I didn’t realize existed.
Registration with ATC:
My (tentative) start date is April 13th at Harpers Ferry and heading north then Flip-Flop. According to the ATC last I looked, there was only one other hiker registered for that date – I’m sure there’s more who did not register. Although no fee is involved, no contract but a voluntary ‘notice’ to the ATC with my name, etc. it still makes it feel very official. I can’t wait to hold that tag in my hands. I wish it was an access pass to all the parks we will pass through on our journey; that would eliminate some of the anxiety about getting permits to parks that we need.
Revealing the big secret:
I postponed telling my family for, what I call, pragmatic reasons; I had to be sure I was really going to do this and not find excuses not to – namely fear disguised as something like “irresponsible” or “I need to get into better shape” (physically, financially, preparation). Also, I didn’t want to hear any comments, criticisms, or other voices that would factor into my already anxious and unsure mind. I had to prepare my mind as much if not more than any other preparation I have done before I was ready to state my plan and why.
I wrote out a letter because I find it easier to share ‘delicate’ information in writing: it’s read and digested at the recipients pace and I am not interrupted while trying to state my peace. The letter was read by one of my children then I ended up just saying what I was doing and why to them all, all together. I was relieved – and maybe a little trumped – to hear a unanimous “good for you”, “you need to do this”, “I think it’s a great idea” (made me feel kinda like I should have come up with this idea sooner). I am glad they are all happy for me and supportive of my endeavor, this will make the whole sabbatical so much easier for me to know that there is no resentment or (over) concern or sadness. Not that I anticipated any of these hurdles, my children are very understanding, sympathetic and supportive of me – even protective. I did expect more questions or concerns about their ‘roles’ in my absence but, again, that was all my projecting my own trepidation.
On another note: my voice in The Trek community:
I am appreciative of this opportunity to share my voice on The Trek because I know the objective of informing the thru-hiker community, in real time by current hikers, is very important to the success of so many who’s goal it is to, not only complete the trek but do it as comfortably and happily as possible. I have learned a lot from reading so many posts and it has all helped alleviate some anxiety. I, however, feel my voice is small, poorly worded and at times irrelevant. I am more of a ‘thinker’ than a ‘sharer’ (not the same as ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’) and that’s one of the reasons I am hiking; I’m comfortable with myself for long periods of time so that is a quality that is conducive to solo hiking but I also want to join a community, a collective-conversation – in short, be included. That’s harder because being included is only partly on me, others have to accept. ~ This is not a plea, I am merely making comparisons (many like to compare gear and pack weight 🙂 in conversation style and content. I am hoping that once I am free of the ‘daily grind’ of normal life, I will be less serious and back to my usual self-deprecting and buoyant personality.
In closing, for those who have read any of my posts, stick with me for a while and, hopefully, I will make it worth your time.
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Congratulations on your steps forward! This is my last week of work, so it’s feeling more official to me now, too. I’ll be starting behind you (April 19 from Rockfish Gap at the south end of SNP), but who knows, maybe I’ll catch up at some point.
Well Kate, I know I’ll be starting slow. “Used to be” an avid WMts. hiker but the last year I’ve concentrated on all the things I had to get done before I quit my job to hike this year so…
I hope you do catch up!