Change of pace, literally
When I first started to plan my adventure, I planned it as a solo venture into the unknown world. I was excited by life’s possibilities and wanted to explore wherever I felt drawn. However, as my dream started to shape into concrete plans, many friends and family members have shown their support and admiration, to the extent that they will be joining me for sections of the trail.
Being a competitive person, I was a bit dismayed. I saw the trail as a challenge and wanted to see how far I could push myself without relying on others. Plus, I wanted to make good time and hike the trail within four months. So, as people started to plan on joining in my hike on the AT, I had a panic moment. How fast will they be able to hike? Will they interfere with my personal journey on the trail? Will my journey still be the same?
After thinking through these questions, I had to laugh at my foolishness. Why does it matter how quickly I finish the trail? What is the rush??
I realized how much of a privilege it was to have so many caring people offer their support that they are actually willing to donate their time and energy to join me for sections at a time. I know it won’t be quite the same journey as going alone, but I see it as a blessing. These are some of the same people that have supported me through all walks of life and it is great to be able to share this personal journey with them as well.
So, I will actually be starting the AT at Springer Mountain with one friend (Joe), who will hike the whole way to Hot Springs with me. It has been a great benefit to have a close friend to talk about gear and the pros and cons to different items. (We have talked each other into and out of many purchases together!) It is also nice to have someone to create tent footprints together and to have someone who is also doing research about the trail so that we are both prepared. I have also realized what a blessing it will be to initially have someone at the start of the trail to figure out a daily routine with me and to build a familiarity to trail life so that I can power through on my own when we part ways.
Besides Joe, I have another handful of friends and family members who want to join me on different sections and I think it will be a great motivator while on the trail to think about the next familiar face that I will be seeing. (It is crazy to me to think that I will be walking to see my friend in Pennsylvania to another friend in Connecticut! I don’t think mileage will ever seem the same after this trip!)
In conclusion, I think it will be a blessing to have others join me on the trip. The one criteria I have for them is to bring lots of food with them! Is there anyone else who will be meeting up with loved ones along the way?
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I’m trying to talk a 30 year old dude that I work with into hiking into Trail Days with me next year on a short week hike if that counts….lol! He is very athletic and such and wants to take up hiking in additional to spartan races. All around good dude….
I have several friends I have asked to join me on several short sections, but so far they have all bowed out with the “I have to work so I don’t think I’ll have time” excuse. So far I have avoided petulantly pointing out that that making time to make great memories is the main point of my journey, but it may slip out soon, lol.