“Because It’s There”: My Personal Everest
Every person I come into contact with who hears that I plan on hiking the full Appalachian Trail asks me why I do it.
To quote mountaineer George Mallory: “Because it’s there.”
To be fair, Mallory had been referring to Everest, but I full well consider this journey MY Everest.
The longest hiking trip I’ve accomplished was a long weekend trip at a comfortable 25 miles. Putting this into perspective, I’d have to make that single weekend trip 88 times over, or the entire length of the AT. Similar to how I prefer to jog outdoors instead of being stuck on a treadmill, I’ll take the full length of changing scenery of the AT, and experience the coast I call my home. Specifically so, northbound from Georgia to Maine.
Growing up, my two sisters and I spent our summers riding bikes around the neighborhood or catching frogs in knee-deep mud in the backyard. I’ve never been distant to outdoor activities.
When we were the impressionable and angsty age of 13, my dad took us on our first hiking trip, an adventurous overnight up Mt. Washington. My initial thoughts were, “Why do people do this. Is this something people enjoy?”
Until we got to the top of Tuckerman’s Ravine, where I could see a view unlike anything I had experienced before.
Since then I’ve gone on many day hikes, dedicatedly driving sometimes upward of six hours round trip to catch a peak in the White Mountains. Along these trips I’ve acknowledged something about hiking that I’ve experienced as meditative and cathartic. Yoga International defines meditation: “In meditation the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused.”
For me, the act of putting one foot in front of the other can take you away from anything you do not need to worry about.
Another thing I learned from hiking, and specifically backpacking, is that when you have a full pack on, you live outdoors. To be able to pick it up and essentially pick up your life to move farther on the trail is an experience I want to be able to practice day after day. What better way to experience this nomadic meditation and challenge of a lifetime than to take on one of the longest hiking trails in the country in one of the best times of my life to do so?
Follow my nomadic happenings here and on Instagram: @jennnerrr
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