A Few Words of Thanks

You Don’t Hike Alone

When Emma Thompson’s character in the new movie A Walk in the Woods failed to convince her husband that a hike was a stupid idea, her words to him were, “You are not doing this alone.”  They were an ultimatum, of course, but there’s a lot of truth to them in another sense as well.  I worked really, really hard to save the money to do this trip, I bought my gear myself, and I won’t get all the way north except on my own two feet.  But it would be stupid of me, not to mention deeply ungrateful, to assume that I was the only one making my hike possible, and as I’m preparing to head down to Georgia tomorrow it seems appropriate to take a moment to tell everyone thank you for doing so much for me before I even took my first step.  Whether the connections are close, like my amazing parents who let me come home for ten months to save money as a boomerang child, who fed me and sheltered me and never told me “there’s no way,” or distant, like the group of people who created the site Steep and Cheap, and who definitely don’t even know I exist but whose work allowed me to buy great gear at a price I could afford, or even those people who died before I was ever born (I’m looking at you, Benton MacKaye, originator of the AT), the network of people making this hike possible is vast.  It might look like it’s just me and my dog starting out on Saturday, but I’ve actually got the biggest trail posse out there, and they all deserve so many thanks:

My parents, who I mentioned above but who could be further defined as “the best,” “thoroughly awesome,” “pretty chill,” “incredibly supportive,” and et cetera; my brother, who I wanted to be like more than anyone else when I was little, and who is still my biggest role model now that I am not; my sister-in-law, who is one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever met, and who is the best sister I could hope for; all of my friends, who put up with my obsession for the last two years with such grace and humor; my employers and colleagues at both of my last two places of employment, who were so flexible with end dates and who were just as excited for my adventure as I was; anyone who heard about my planned hike and responded with any phrase including the words “amazing,” “badass,” “inspiring,” “you can do it,” or just “you’re going to have so much fun;” all the thru-hikers I’ve met, some who finished their hikes and some who were not able to, who encouraged and reassured me; Appalachian Trials and Zach Davis, for giving all my feelings a home on the internet while I hike; and all the strangers out there who have devoted their lives and time to working on the trail, designing gear, writing about hiking, and dispensing a little wisdom, so that someone like me could feel strong enough to do this.

You all are the real deal.  Thank you, from the very bottom of my deeply humbled heart.  The next time you all hear from me I’ll be in the woods.

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