4 Days ’til Launch
It’s so close, yet so far away. Less than a week!! While I peruse other Appalachian Trials bloggers’ pages, which are filled with trail updates (some people as far as Virginia and beyond already!); Kyler, Becca & I are still waiting to get on the trail. All of us are mentally ready to be out there, but life is still holding us back. Jobs, moving, tying up loose ends…
I’ve moved a lot throughout my life, but this move is unlike any other. I’ve always had another house or apartment to fill with stuff. I’ve usually rented a U-Haul or had a friend with a truck help me haul all my stuff. I’ve always had a new job or school to go to.
This time is very different. We only really need the belongings that will fit into our backpacks. We’re getting rid all of those things that make a house feel like a home – bed, couch, kitchen table, desk, blankets, home-cooked meals, etc – and replacing those things with sleeping bags, tents, 1-2 pairs of undies (or zero in Kyler’s case), and dehydrated food. We’re going to be unemployed – I mean, fun-employed – with no plans for new jobs anytime soon. And technically, we’ll be homeless! Oh, now I see why some people call us crazy.
While all of this purging and changing has been extremely cathartic, motivating, and exciting, it’s also been stressful and scary.
Wise Words from a Friend
While we were visiting Asheville, NC with some friends a few weeks ago chatting about all of these life changes, one of our friends put our situation into words perfectly. He told me I could share these wise words in our blog, so here goes a terribly paraphrased version. Thanks Brad (and sorry if I butchered it)!
“We would like things in life to attach to us like a cloak, so that when we transition or move on, we can just shed ourselves of that cloak. But in reality, many of those things – whether those “things” are objects, places, ideas, or ways of being – attach to us more like umbilical cords, many of them. So, when we want to shed ourselves of those things, we actually have to rip them from us. They’re attached to our core, or our hearts, so cutting those ties isn’t always as easy as we may think or want it to be.”
I think one of the hardest things about all of this is simply leaving Burlington. I’ve really put roots down here in Vermont. It’s especially hard leaving just as it’s starting to get warm, seeing as how summer is the reason I’ve stuck it out here through 6 frigid winters. It’s hard to say goodbye to good friends, and especially hard not knowing when or where I’ll see them next. It was hard leaving my job and all of my amazing co-workers, but let’s be real, not having a job has been pretty ballin’.
Already Feeling #Blessed
Sorry, have to poke some fun at this hashtag. One thing I’ve been ‘expecting’ (I put that in quotations because I know I shouldn’t have hard expectations) and looking forward to about the trail has been finding the good in humanity and appreciating the little things again. People talk about it all the time when they’re on the trail – trail angels, hiker feeds, delightful showers, etc. Honestly, though, I’m already experiencing it! I’ve been so humbled, amazed, and appreciative of how kind our friends, family, and even strangers have been so far as we’ve been preparing for this hike. Lots of folks have come to us asking how they can help us on the trail. Can they send us packages, goodies, give us rides when we’re in town, meet up with us to take us out to dinner or for a shower? Yes! Thank you, thank you to everyone who has offered their help.
I’ve also been raising money for Hike for Mental Health, which is an organization that focuses on mental health research and trail preservation, and I’m so grateful for all of the people who have donated to this amazing cause already! Kyler & I held a potluck/silent auction event earlier this month, and we’ll be donating a percentage of our proceeds from that as well. Shameless Plug Alert: I’m 86% of the way to my goal! If you can, please support my hike for mental health. Every little bit counts. Sacrifice a $5 beer or coffee for a day?
Top 3 Questions
A lot of people have been asking the same questions, so I figured I could lay out some of the answers here. But for the record, I never get tired of answering these questions, and each time I talk about our hike, I’m just as excited as the last time.
“What have you done to physically prepare?” Or “Have you been hiking a lot to prepare?!”
I’m not going to lie, I thought I would be physically preparing A LOT more than I did in reality. I thought that especially after leaving my job, I’d be hiking at least 2-3 times a week with a full pack, running stairs, etc etc. But let me just let you in on a secret… moving really sucks up time. Also, other preparations take up more time than you’d think! Setting up mail drops, reaching out to sponsors for food/gear donations, getting all the right gear, and more. So, here’s a list of some of what I’ve actually done since leaving my job to prepare for this hike.
- Went to Israel for 10 days (we did do some hiking and camping!)
- Went to Asheville for 5 days to visit one of my best friends (hiked for a few hours in the Smokies and met a few thru-hikers, and also drank A LOT of beer)
- Picked out mail drop locations.
- Bought a new pack – Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 Ki – that I’m really excited about!
- Created a few Spotify playlists for those days when I’m in a bad mood and need a pick-me-up
- Spin (cycling) classes and gym time. There we go, gettin’ physical.
- Went for 2 practice hikes with almost full packs (and snowshoes…)
- Picked up food and gear donations and ordered other goodies that will be arriving at my parents house in Maryland. I’ll be blogging more about those products soon.
“When are you leaving?” and “Where are you starting?”
Tomorrow, Kyler & I will be packing up my little Hyundai sedan with only the bare essentials and leaving our Burlington, VT apartment to drive south. We’ll be meeting Becca, who’s flying in from Colorado, at my parents house in Maryland. And on Friday, May 1st, we begin our journey in Virginia! We’re starting in the Shenandoahs, heading North to Maine, and then we’ll finish off by hiking south to Georgia from where we started in Virginia.
“How long will this take?”
It’s hard to answer this exactly, because we don’t know what obstacles will pop up as we’re hiking. However, I can say that we expect it to take somewhere between 5-6 months.
See you soon, Appalachian Trail!
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