The Countdown & Dealing with Doubt

116 days until I set out to thru hike the Appalachian Trail and I continue to ask myself the question: What have I gotten myself into? I know I’m not alone in my tumultuous thoughts as I watch other hikers post similar messages of the back and forth emotions and utter brain explosions. One day I’m so stoked I can’t even walk through my apartment without singing and dancing, and the next day I’m surrounded by Black Friday shoppers in REI and it’s impossible to form a tangible idea in my head of what to even look for. Hopefully my trips to local outfitters become more productive in the future as I have quite a number of things yet to acquire. The wheels never stop turning and I’ll be running hard up until it’s time to set out to Springer. Aside from work and AT prep (my two current full time jobs), I’m trying to fit in as much time as possible with loved ones, giving my dogs some much-needed attention, prepping us all physically and mentally for our 6 month journey, running a business, and it is absolutely insane. How does one act like a normal person amidst all of this chaos? There are moments that I feel so overwhelmed and I anticipate over the next few months I will feel even more drained at times. As I’m quite the over-thinker I anticipate more moments where I’ll wonder if I made the right decision, if I’m ready for a thru hike, if this is the right time in my life, if I can get everything done over the next few months. How does one know if now is the right time to attempt such a feat, and if so, how do you know if you’re adequately prepared?

Up to this point, it’s been a relatively easy mental challenge for me to overcome. I’m busting my butt right now because it’s time and I am ready. I decided to make it the right time in my life to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. It was simply a conscious decision. There’s never a perfect time for anything in life. We can wait for the stars to align, we can hope this one more thing will happen first, we can always wish for a little extra time, a little more money, a little more confidence, experience, or guidance. Ultimately we are the ones who make timing seem to matter so greatly. Who we meet, where we are, what adventures we go on; we are in control of how we let timing play a role in all of those things. We can use it as an excuse and say that it isn’t right, or we can embrace the fact that nothing in life is ever going to be perfect. If we sit around and wait we will let our lives, the people in them, and the opportunities we have to be great and to do great things pass us right on by. When you make a choice and you don’t hold back, you’re given the freedom and confidence to achieve something amazing. It doesn’t mean you won’t have weak moments, it doesn’t mean you won’t have doubts; it just means you won’t give up and you are trusting yourself completely.

Sometimes you just have to dive in headfirst without really knowing what’s in store, and in the end of March that is exactly what I intend on doing. I can try to buy the ultimate combination of gear (lots of opinions on this and let’s be honest, once I get a pack shakedown I’ll be sending half of it back where it came from); I can physically prepare (this will help, but nothing can truly prepare my body for 6 months of hiking other than 6 months of hiking – and right now I live in the frozen tundra which is NOT helpful); I can plan my route (kind of, but not actually, no I can’t); I can read every backpacking blog/site/book in existence (something I might be close to accomplishing, and that is incredibly helpful, but my hike will inevitably be different than anyone else’s). In reality I will never be able to truly prepare myself for every nuance of the trail, and there will never be a ‘perfect’ time or a ‘perfect’ way to go about it. I can’t possibly predict what will happen on this journey, or any subsequent chapter, because life is absolutely unpredictable. Instead of feeling the need to control what happens next, to blame the factor of time when things aren’t flawless, to have concrete expectations of what comes next and which road I will take to get there; I’m choosing to appreciate the imperfections, to accept that I can only clearly see bits and pieces of what the future might hold, to embrace the beauty of an ever-changing path, and to be present and enjoy every single moment along the way.

“Some things you’re not letting happen right now because the timing isn’t perfect for you. Some you’re not letting happen because you are very aware of where you are. But all things, as they are happening, are happening in perfect order. And if you will relax and begin saying, ‘Everything in its perfect time. Everything is unfolding. And I’m enjoying where I am now, in relationship to where I’m going. Content where I am, and eager for more,” that is the perfect vibrational stance.” – Abraham Hicke

I’m setting out to thru hike the Appalachian Trail this spring. Despite the never-ending to do lists that still await me, and my often times chaotic thoughts, in my mind I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Starting this fresh chapter of my life knowing that I can’t really predict what comes next is perhaps a little bit frightening, but also so liberating and filled with such potential for greatness. I will be appreciating every minute before I set out on the trail, while I’m out there, and as I begin my new life afterwards.

Happy Hiking!


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