Choosing a Life Well-Lived

I’m Choosing to Hike the Appalachian Trail

Life is all about choices! We are required to make choices every day. Some choices seem small, carrying very little existential weight. Some choices, on the other hand, will fundamentally and even radically alter the course of our lives.

I’m at a place in my life where I now choose change. Capital “C” Change. The jarring, transformative kind of change. I am inspired and excited to get outside, to live a more nature-focused life, to simplify, to be my authentic self, and to walk away from unhealthy roles that I have felt societal pressure to play.

I’m also ready to simply have fun. I’m ready to form a lifelong friendship over a packed-in, piss-warm beer (to my delight, I have learned that you can actually keep a beer or two cold by storing it in a water bladder full of cold water—thank you, Cnoc). I’m ready to fall asleep while look up at the Milky Way. I’m ready to be nibbled on by a Highland pony. I’m ready to sit in a shelter, soaking wet, groaning with fellow hikers who have also spent their third consecutive day in the rain. I’m ready to eat my body weight in Snickers (OK, maybe pack weight; 200 pounds of Snickers is a lot).

Life can be heavy and dark. Life can also be joyous and exciting. At the end of the day, I always try to remind myself of the words often spoken by the wisest man I’ve had the privilege of knowing: “People have more fun than anybody.”

So Why Am I Doing This?

If you have yet to make a list of why you’re wanting to hike the long trail of your choice, I recommend you do so. Why do I suggest this? Because Zach Davis recommended we all do so in Appalachian Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Making a list of your “whys” is ultimately a means of being intentional, and as Zach would say, “Because when it comes to backpacking 2,220 miles, the greatest determining factor of success is purpose.”

Here’s my list:

  • I have dreamed of hiking the trail since I was 14 years old.
  • I believe I am at the ideal point in my life to take this journey (in a transitionary period, no job, minimal obligations).
  • This is a monumental step (or five million monumental steps) toward both self-actualization and living the life I want to live.
  • I’ve tried to “play it safe” in life, making a lot of conventional life choices. I know that the realities of the AT will present me with unforeseeable, novel challenges.
  • I want to see how simply I can live.
  • I think this journey will serve as a reorienting experience while bringing peace and clarity.
  • I am looking forward to seeing what people, experiences, and opportunities life throws my way on this quest for a life well-lived.

Follow Along

Feel free to follow along on this journey! Vlogs will be going up weekly on The Trek’s YouTube channel (playlist linked on my author’s page along with my gear list). Introductory video linked below for a little more about me and why I’m hiking the AT!

You can also follow along on Instagram for smaller, more frequent updates and pieces of content: @joeywsantos

Happy hiking!

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Comments 2

  • Avatar
    Jeffro : Feb 15th

    My son and I were talking about doing a 3 day hike on the AT in N.C. Can’t wait to see your vlogs!

    • Avatar
      Joey Santos : Mar 17th

      Looking forward to sharing!


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