3,2,1… Happy New Year!

I always thought I’d retire in June of 2023 and then attempt my AT thru-hike in 2024. However, a couple of family-related opportunities arose that served to change my thinking. The first was our decision to relocate to Wilmington, NC for my wife’s job change. And the second is that my daughter, Madeline, recently graduated college and wants to hike with me! I figured I’d better capitalize on this timing before her desire to hike with her dear old dad is complicated by her upcoming career and/or personal ambitions. In my next blog, I’ll introduce my amazing daughter and hiking partner a little more.

Not So “Light” Reading

So now that I’m mere hours away from the actual year of my hike the nerves are getting real. I’ve been reading two books over the past week: Whistler’s Walk by William Monk and Zach Davis’s Appalachian Trials. Something has definitely changed in me because reading AT books and articles used to get me excited, whereas at this point they are making me worried more than anything. Am I really prepared for all the snow Whistler encountered? Will my body, including three joint replacements, be able to handle the daily punishment? How often will I embarrassingly manage to get lost on a trail that everyone says is extremely well-marked? How many times will the foot injuries of my basketball days threaten to roll my ankles in ruts and on wobbly rocks?

Fake It Till You Make It?

Whistler’s book begins with him boldly stating he always knew he would finish the trail the same year he started. I’m not sure if he ever made that declaration aloud to others beforehand, but I’m scared to jinx myself by trying it. I do know I have a lot of determination in me, and that I have the ability to complete hard things. Teaching full-time since 1992 is proof of that. And this past June my friend Josh and I rode our bicycles the whole length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, plus Skyline Drive, in a week. But teaching and biking come naturally to me and I’ve done both for decades. I don’t have any thru-hiking experience. So instead I’ll cautiously say I plan on reaching Katahdin’s summit by late summer this year. I might not know it with the confidence of Whistler, but I do envision braving all the challenges to come. 

Avoiding My Homework

Reading Zach’s book is all about mental preparation. I’ve only gotten a couple chapters in, and I’m now at a place in which he instructs the reader to create two separate lists; one with your reasons why you wish to thru-hike the AT and the other of how you’ll feel if you don’t make it. Admittedly, I decided to write this blog as opposed to creating those lists. I’ll get back to you with what I end up putting on them. Also, I realize I haven’t followed through with my promise from Blog 1 to detail that first camping adventure with Chris. I haven’t forgotten, though, and consider those stories worth telling as in large part they both sparked and have fueled my determination to hike upon retirement.

Happy New Year and I’ll follow up with Blog 3 soon!


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