Each and Every Corner

“We aren’t a drop in the ocean, but are the ocean, in drops.”

-Rumi

Without being on the trail, blogging feels borderline disreputable; I don’t know what to report on or give the numbers of. There are perpetually boundless amounts of sage and skilled people out there who know so much and are obviously higher skilled than I. So, I guess at this point…

If I were the one waking up early in the morning, slowly rubbing the sting out of another long day’s work from my eyes, rolling over and religiously checking my email for the bold letters of Badger’s Daily Appalachian Trials Fix… What I would like to stumble upon is the story of someone who maybe also does not feel terribly well-versed on trail life.

A stranger who is feeling all of the thousand emotions that I myself am experiencing.

I see countless gear lists (my next post, I promise)… heaps of sensationally confident blogs of thru-hiking champions from all walks of life going out there and actually DOING it… and I’m over here stuck, dancing the samba in quicksand. I’m stuck at home in a hopeless purgatory of preparation and waiting. And you know what? I’m kind of freaking out. I don’t know what it means to hike with my belongings on my back for 2,189 miles. I don’t know what it feels like to sleep in the woods every night, and I certainly cannot imagine habitually digging a cat hole to poop in.

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But I am going to do it anyway.

I tend to do this a lot in my life. Because of some circumstance, some particular inner phenomenon, I set my eyes on a certain goal, and I whisper to myself, “Yeah.”

That is it, and that is all.

It all starts with a yeah.

Slowly it lingers, it evolves and it deepens into a yes. My mind skips the million logistical steps of HOW I will accomplish this feat and goes straight to the imaginary, yet deliberate, picture of success. Ultimately, these dreams trickle out to those closest to me. I hear myself speak my private words out loud. I like the way they sound… I talk about them more. I start to imagine greater detail. And then I do something exorbitantly ballsy and buy myself a $300 backpack. I spent $300 because I liked the way the backpack hugged my hips. But also, I have dreams to chase. I have my life to live. Like Jon Bon Jovi said… It’s my life. It’s now or never.

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Now I am committed.

I like the idea of this because these skills, and this bravery, are nothing that I can acquire in a day. I cannot acquire these things in a week.

I like things that I am forced to practice in each and every crevice, of each and every corner, of each and every day.

That’s what life is. I suppose this is what most people call an obsessive personality. But this is what I call living with my entire being… my mind, my body, and my soul. This is living whole.

I do know that people like organized things like numbers, lists, and statistics. Here are mine:

  • One year and forty-five days since I have been planning my thru-hike.
  • Eleven books on long-distance hiking that I have fanatically poured over.
  • Four months that I hope to accomplish my hike from Georgia to Maine.
  • One incredible, passionate, and loving husband and two fiercely loyal dogs that I will be leaving at home.
  • Six resupply boxes I will be sending myself.
  • Two weeks that I will give myself to freely acclimate to trail life.
  • Twenty mile days that I hope to eventually average.
  • Seven shakedown hikes I have taken myself on, trying to learn as much as possible.
  • Five times I have changed my gear choices.
  • Four pairs of shoes that I anticipate wearing through.
  • Two separate sleeping bags that I will be using. One 0 degree bag for the beginning and end of my hike, and one 35 degree bag for the hot and humid middle.
  • Fourteen of our country’s beautiful states that I will walk across.
  • An infinite amount of times that my strength will be tested.

This hike is not a random choice. There are countless and calculated reasons why I’m setting out, traversing on this particular journey of the unknown. I am sure that I will share more of these reasons with you in the future, as I get more comfortable with my blogging. But for now, just one drop.

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Comments 6

  • Avatar
    Rebecca : Mar 17th

    Hi Stephanie, I wanted to say that what you write is exactly what I want to be reading. I have minimal hiking experience but have been sitting on the egg of an idea of a through hike for next year. I relate to your writing and look forward to reading about your hike! What books did you read, did you find any particularly helpful? Best of luck! – Rebecca

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Stephanie Cortes : Mar 17th

      Thanks, Rebecca! Before I moved to the east coast, I had minimal hiking experience as well. But hey, everyone starts somewhere. What inspired you? I was given Becoming Odyssa for my birthday, and that’s when the adventure seed planted. From there I read Walking the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods, Wild, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, Hiking Through, and a few others… all were great stories. As far as really preparing and planning, I cannot recommend Appalachian Trials enough. That was the only book I read where it felt like the author (Hey Zach!) was right there with me, encouraging me and preparing me for something I felt so clueless about. Now that I’ve gotten down to the nitty, gritty details… AWOL’s AT Guide has been monumental as well. Hope that helps and happy trails!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Nichole Young : Mar 17th

    Hey Stephanie, when are you starting? I’m thinking a lot of the same things you’re writing! You can do it!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Stephanie Cortes : Mar 17th

      Hey there! I board my plane down to Georgia in SEVEN days! Thank you so much for the encouragement, it helps more than you know!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Patty : Mar 20th

    Hey are you starting your hike on Friday the 25th? So is my son, I hope you guys get to meet up.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Melanie Vickers : Mar 28th

    Stephanie,

    My name is Melanie Vickers. What an exciting endeavor you are on right now. Your husband, a student in my class, posted your email so that I could vicariously live through you on this magnificent journey. I will read and learn and maybe gain the courage, yes you are courageous, to attempt such a wonderful experience.

    Reply

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