Coming Out

I look at this post as my coming out party. To my family members, close friends, co-workers, and obscure Facebook friends who are bored at work and followed this link, I am planning on disappearing from life for 4-6 months in order to wander through the woods, facing bears, snakes, moose, and mosquitoes. This is it; the nail in the coffin, sealing the deal, whatever other idioms you can think of that apply! With this post, I can no longer back out from my planned SOBO Appalachian trail thru hike, and this is perfectly fine by me! Not that I was planning on backing out of course, but every once-in-awhile, the planning and gear comparisons and purchases can get overwhelming…fortunately, I have persevered and overcome these times in the planning process. The hike is getting closer, budgeting of my spending habits has officially started (sorry about the lack of decent Christmas presents this year family, I still love you!), and final gear lists have been made. It is time!

To those who I’ve already told, I’ve seen the judgmental looks that some of y’all have not bothered trying to hide. I’ve heard the doubting and incredulous “What? Where? Why? FOR HOW LONG?” questions, and politely kept my mouth shut when I knew a “Well, good luck with that…” was just a short step away from “Bless your heart” and an even shorter step away from “HA you’ll never be able to do that, and you’re crazy to try”. To all those sippin’ on that h8erade, I say phooey on you. To those wonderful, incredible, sweet individuals who have supported, been excited, and genuinely interested in my decision (looking at you specifically,Mom and Dad!), you are the sunshine of my life! Thanks for listening to me obsess and rant and panic and hype myself up over this; it really is appreciated!

Walking across the United States is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, thanks to Forrest Gump. I remember seeing the cross country running scene, and imagining all the incredible sights he must have seen, all the awesome people he must have met, and all the great food he would have gotten to eat. From an early age I knew I wasn’t a runner (I can run, and I’m decent at it despite my lack of practice, but I just don’t find it enjoyable); however, walking, hiking, and camping? I knew that I could do those things, and that I enjoyed doing those things. With long trails and distance backpacking, I could get the sights, the people, and *sigh* all the food! Win, Win, and all the wins. I mean, who doesn’t want to spend all day trekking up and down mountains like a certified bad-ass, talking to other certified bad-asses, seeing bad-ass views, and then eating entire large pizzas with no ‘ragrets’? Plus, how many people can say that they’ve walked 2,180 miles, give or take a few miles every year?

Of course I realize that there will be more to the hike besides general bad-assery. I’ve been mentally preparing myself to lose toenails, not shower for days at a time, learn how to deal with moose attacks (plan: sing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ at the top of my lungs and horribly out of tune), sneak by snakes, be soggy and nasty for who knows how long, run from bears and badgers, run from the banjos and other horrible and hopefully unlikely events that may fall upon me. I have read the blogs of previous and current thru hikers, read the books, kept up on forums, and gotten information in every possible way except thru-hike myself. Mentally, I am as prepared as I feel I can be without actually thru hiking. One aspect of the trail that I’m looking forward to is how it will push me to my limits; I’ve never been pushed to my limits, and I want to know how I’ll handle the experience. You can join me as I discover myself and my limits. It will be fun. 🙂

I’m not really sure what my posts will be about, but I’ll go ahead and make a few guesses. I’m sure at some point, I’ll discuss gear. It’s all anyone wants to talk about, and rightfully so! The gear doesn’t complete the hike, but it sure does make a difference. I’m not a gram weenie (for the sole reason of not being able to afford to be one), so if you’re looking for ultra-lightweight tips, don’t take them from me :P. I am a money weenie though, so I’ll be explaining what gear I purchased, what gear I thrifted for, what gear I made, etc. in order to save the most money. There will for sure be posts about my previous backpacking experiences, and shakedown trips that I’ll be able to take after football season is over (#Hailstate). Be prepared to enjoy my general unpreparedness in most things, and join me as I (hopefully) overcome this unfortunate character flaw. Maine-Georgia, here I come. The timing is finally right in my life for me to pursue this, and I want to share my experiences with all of you! Y’all are so lucky. 🙂

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