Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Reasons-Artemis
Appalachian Trail thru-hike reasons are never simple. If only it was a simple answer. My hiking vlogs documenting preparations for my thru-hike are differentiated with jokes and blooper reels. But there is more behind the laughter and reasons why and motivations to hike the Appalachian Trail. There was a distinct recipe for a catalyst launching me toward the enormous decision, and in my mind worth mentioning. The recipe included: one overweight, middle-aged woman, an intelligence career dashed at the foot of motherhood, a serving of crippling health issues, combined with emotional rigor mortis from a life centered around others. The produce was a raging dark spirit filled with unhappiness, infecting and destroying every treasured relationship in subconscious retaliation. The clown no longer smiled.
From the age of ten until 25, I cultivated an ambitious plan to work for the CIA, specializing in Russian politics. A Cold War baby who read too many Tom Clancy books by flashlight was aflame with purpose. The plan never included a family due to the line of work and blind ambitions. However, destiny jerked her chain taut when I met the love of my life. Within a year a decision had to be made because it was too difficult to concentrate during briefings when worried about your five-month-old baby half a world away. The pivotal year also dawned the real possibility of my professional world irrevocably changing when the planes hit the towers. Thus, I made the hardest decision of my life and rightly chose my family over career. I was incapable of having it all and one path would suffer for the glory of the other. Tucking away intricate career ambitions in a mental drawer in 2001 would come back to haunt me in 2017.
Seventeen years later, time is now my own, and heavy demands from my family have diminished. The silent house and empty schedule birthed a sentiment of meaningless existence, unrealized ambitions, and indecision how to wind down the last half of my life. The choices I came up were unappealing, further making me feel lost. Earning my PhD in Russian politics would relegate me to academia. I did not want to write the second book in my novel series, nor show more paintings in galleries. It did not help that I was too old to reclaim my intelligence career. My perceived lost purpose in life was quickly sinking and tanking valued relationships with my drowning gurgles of futility.
When It All Changed
My daughter played a song for me on July 29, 2018, knowing the song would free me from crippling emotional quicksand. While listening at the kitchen counter, dripping tears all over my freshly cleaned kitchen counter, I felt the cogs click into place. The song was “Hello Dreamer” by Laikipia. The lyrics launched the hike spoken about for years. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail was the only thing I could see doing.
My daughter looked deeply into my eyes and echoed the lyrics, “Mom, what do you have to lose? Are you living the life you chose? You’re caging yourself when you just want to be free.”
Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Reasons – The Rest of the Story
The desperate need to reclaim a purpose-driven life is only half of the story. The other half belongs to a large piece of my heart, my home state of Maine. I have lived in North Georgia for the last 16 years, raising my family. As I sectioned hiked the AT over the last couple of years, the yawning path beckoned, stretched out tantalizingly toward home. With eight generations from Maine and three Abenaki tribes in my blood, I can say with full confidence that I am homesick and ready to follow a path to a new beginning. I am petulantly walking home while filming and blogging stories about Maine, her people, my past, and hopeful plans for the future.
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