Cheese, future husbands, and finding the meaning of life.

Why am I hiking the AT?

This question is hard for me to answer. My first reaction would be to answer with a joke response.. Like to find a husband or to be able to eat a block of cheese a day. I suppose this is a challenging and very self-reflective thing for everyone, but I think it’s for me to admit my real reasons because to me they feel self indulgent and silly. But slowly I’m getting over that. If I were accepting a full time job right now I wouldn’t feel the need to justify or explain it. I’d simply tell my mother it’s good experience and will look good on my resume and that would be that.

But actually..

My next response if you were to probe more would be: Carpe that fucking Diem. I have two working legs, a couple of thousand dollars saved up, some backpacking experience, and an addiction to a good challenge. Why shouldn’t I hike the AT??? My father died shortly after his 40th birthday after learning a year before he had a terminal brain tumor. Life is short. It’s really short, and I don’t ever want to look back and have regrets that I didn’t do something while I could. I don’t want to assume that I’ll have the good health, life freedom or ambition to do this later. I also don’t think it’s safe to assume that the trail will exist or be the same in twenty or thirty years. This carpe diem/life is short reasoning is huge for me, but I can’t honestly say it’s everything, and I know it’s not enough to carry me through all 2,190 miles.

And really..

There’s something deeper there, and it’s hard for me to put my finger on. It feels like hiking the trail is an essential part of becoming who I’m supposed to be. I simply need to do it. I know that strength and fearlessness are important elements here. I suppose I want to find courage of my convictions. I want to be the biggest, best person I can be. And right now, I need to be a bit selfish about that. I need to prove to myself that I can set a very ambitious goal and follow through on it. That goal needs to be absolutely all my own. I need these 6 months and 2,000 miles to grow and think and meet new people and see new places.

What about the rain, mud, mice, and miles though?

I know this won’t be easy. I know there will be down days. Maybe the majority of them will be. This is part of the reason thru-hiking the AT is my ambition though. I want to be uncomfortable, dirty, wet, blistered. There’s something important in stripping yourself and your possessions down so that you can realize what truly matters to you. Perseverance is a simultaneously miserable and beautiful thing.

In conclusion?

I don’t assume that I’ll finish the trail. But I want to give it a good frickin’ try. If I quit I know I’ll be disappointed and embarrassed. It’s not in my nature to give things up lightheartedly. If I quit, I know it will be for good reason, and the experience will teach me things no matter what. Maybe I’ll meet my future husband and we’ll go off to cheese making school. Who knows, but I’m going to give the trail the old college try!


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Comments 9

  • SIMPLE MAN : Dec 28th

    Talk to me Alice, lost my mom and two sisters in the last 10 years. In August my wife past away after 2 years of cancer.The time to do things is now.The present is all we have. Go for it!

  • David Kierych : Dec 29th

    You sound like you already hiked the trail. And i mean this as a compliment. Sadly i did not meet my future Mrs Delaware Dave on the AT….but i did meet her 2 years later on the PCT.! Have fun, bless you, say hi to Katahdin. Remember the Journey IS the Destination. For me i became a thru hiker as soon as i said “i’m f*#king doing this!” Enjoy this pretrail excitment! Truly alive, feel it all.

    • Nathan Smith : May 20th

      I do remember you very well. You past my post not far from Sonora pass. Sad to know that Tejas or Shannon broke her leg, bad luck, she seemed so happy. Sonora pass is just a such beautiful spot to pass. Next time go through Leavitt peak.

  • Tom Joyner : Dec 29th

    I’ll b a Ridgerunner this yr, so ill keep my eye open for you. Sounds like you have the credentials to make it happen!! Good luck, I’ll see ya on the Trail.

  • Richard : Dec 29th

    drop the potty mouth. Its not becoming.

  • Richard : Dec 29th

    call me f**king Ismeal.
    I took the the road less traveled f**king bye.
    In a hole in the f**king ground there lived a hobbit.

    • Christy : Dec 31st

      In response to Richard, (and I’m coming back a full day after reading this post), I feel you like missed the point. Judging another’s vulnerability of self-expression… this seems like neither the time or place. As a creative writing mentor at Stanford University and as another woman who lost her father young, I want to commend Alice for using the language she felt most appropriate to express the complicated feelings that accompany grief. Alice, kudos for writing this post and publicly sharing your motivations for seeking the hike. <3

  • Dustan : Dec 29th

    Alice! You managed to put into words all the things I couldn’t! I’ll be attempting my thru-hike in 2016 as well so I hope to see you out there. Good luck!

  • Abby : Jan 11th



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