Three Reasons to Hike the Appalachian Trail Right Now (Or at Least Sometime Soon)

Why do you want to hike the Appalachian Trail?

I’m starting the AT in a few days. While I planned, my father has asked me the aforementioned question more than once (read: a lot). Admittedly, I have yet to have a great answer for him.

“I’ve wanted to do it for years.”

“It’s an experience I may never have the opportunity to have again.”

“I like being outside.”

“I don’t get it.” My father answered each time.

“You don’t have to.” I replied, as politely as I could.

It’s that last comment that made me feel like I owed him this article. After all he’s done for me, the least I can do is attempt to explain myself.

Hike Your Own Hike. Live Your Own Life.

I’m not the type of person who will drop everything to do whatever I want, whenever I want it.

In fact, I’m quite the opposite of spontaneous. I’ve got the next three years of my life planned out with law school. After that, I have a pretty good idea what my options might be. I find a lot of comfort in that plan and I genuinely desire to make the most of my intellectual curiosity through a career in law.

However, while I love my father, and would nominate him for any “Best Father” award in a heartbeat, I think he struggles to reconcile the “law school planner” part of my personality with the part that wants to go on a walk through the woods to Maine.

1) I want to experience life while I have it.

Life goes by a little too fast. I’m only 24 and I’ve already had a handful of people in my life pass away who shouldn’t have. While I’m planning to live a very long life, I don’t want to take a day for granted.

2) I want to experience the world we have while we have it.

What better way to appreciate the Earth by living within her creations—not the houses and offices we’ve created—for months on end. I strongly believe the world around us is dying. I hold on to the hope that human innovation will save our planet, but, at the very least, I am extremely confident that if we have a world when I’m 80, it will be unrecognizable from the world we have today.

3) I want to experience me.

I know that sounds odd, but our culture offers so little opportunity to truly look ourselves in the mirror. Every second is a distraction. We have iPhones that light up every few seconds, emails that ping all day long, and television screens that pull at our heartstrings constantly. It sounds hippy, but how often do we really spend alone with ourselves?

I think it’s all the running that did it to me. When I started cross country in high school, I got a taste of being alone with my mind and my body. Alone, not with television, music, or podcasts, but really alone. Being comfortable with that is possibly the best lesson I’ve ever learned.

A Step in the Right Direction

It may not be a perfect answer, but it’s by far the best one I’ve offered. I hope it suffices.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • Avatar
    peg : Feb 26th

    Reason #2! Very well-stated, a thoroughly worthwhile reason (they all are but this is my favorite), but also, oh so sad.

    • Avatar
      Hayden Cox : Feb 28th

      Thanks for reading!


What Do You Think?