The Reasoning in this Madness: Why I’m Hiking
Thru-hiking the AT involves mountains.
Preparing to thru-hike the AT also involves mountains–of research. That is what it feels like, anyway.
We’re talking books, articles, online forums, advice from past thru-hikers, etcetera etcetera etcetera. In a significant chunk of my spare time, I am staring at a screen reading reviews on bear canisters and portable phone chargers. When I am not spending time reading online articles, I am feeling guilty about not doing so. I also should be spending more time with my guidebook. Have I mentioned I am a procrastinating champion?
In these days of preparation and planning (less than three months to go until my start date?!?!?!), I have realized that there are probably one hundred and one ways to hang a bear bag, pack your backpack, and hike the trail. There are also at least a billion different types of gear and variations on gear and variations on variations of gear.*
*Disclaimer: I might be exaggerating a little in my desperation.
There is, however, one thing that everyone agrees on:
Thru-hiking is primarily a mental challenge.
With that in mind, it is important to know why you are thru-hiking. From what I have heard, there will be times when it has been raining for two weeks straight, your knees will hurt, your pack will feel like you’re toting around cinder blocks, you will miss someone or something back home, and you will want to quit. Your brain and willpower may be the only things standing between you and a one-way trip home.
Believe it or not, there is reasoning in all of this madness called thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, so here are my lists.
I am thru-hiking the AT because…
-God told me to. Seriously. This is real life.
-I want to climb mountains. “Mountains! I want to see mountains, Gandalf!”
-I am seeking adventure. You know how you have friends who go off and do crazy cool things and you’re like, why can’t I do that?! Well, now I am.
-I do not have many obligations tying me down right now, so this is a good time to attempt something like this.
-I want to challenge myself. Because this is going to be hard, and sometimes we just need to do hard things.
-I want time and space to think about life and where the next few years might take me.
-Get fit. Because climbing mountains every day will do that to you.
-To learn detachment.
-To learn to trust God more.
-Hiking and being out in nature makes me feel alive. Feeling alive is a good thing.
When I successfully thru-hike the AT, I will…
-Be in the best shape of my life!
-Have a deeper relationship with God.
-Be more confident and feel empowered because heck, I just walked 2190 miles up and down mountains!
-Have a better understanding of my purpose. (I hope!)
-Become an adventure junky–where’s the next mountain!?
If I give up on the AT, I will…
-Probably doubt myself forever.
-Be burdened with regret for the rest of my life.
-Have to face my friends and family in defeat. Oh the shame.
-Have spent way too much money on something that I didn’t finish. Hello guilt.
More than Fear
In some of my previous posts, I know I have talked about the fears surrounding this decision to thru-hike. I am excited, too! The purpose of these lists is to keep my reasons firmly in my mind, so that when I arrive at physical and mental obstacles on the trail, I can work through them and finish my hike!
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