Dreamer Becomes Doer: Why I Chose to Hike the AT
To properly explain why I chose to hike the Appalachian Trail I first have to get a bittersweet fact out of the way; I am sick. Not the, “Oh, I have a cold” kind of sick, but rather the “I have a chronic illness that isn’t going anywhere” kind of sick. When I was ten I got diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Fun, right? When you’re diagnosed that young it shapes where you see your life going. All throughout my childhood, I believed I would have to follow the “normal” path of life. I would play it safe, stay close to home, and put myself in situations where I wouldn’t stress my body out. Due to this, I have spent far too many hours on the internet learning everything I could about adventures I would never go on. But at the end of the day, you gotta play it safe.
The cool thing is Crohn’s sometimes just goes away for a while
What I failed to realize is that sometimes Crohn’s can just go into remission for years. I got lucky and in my senior year of high school, I stopped being symptomatic. Because I no longer felt sick all time I put my energy into school. I graduated high school with a decent scholarship to college and set off to continue the path I was expected to take. However, this path brought me a sickness that isn’t physical; college made me sad. I hated more than I had known I could hate something. One thing led to another, where I hit my lowest low in spring and decided I needed to make a change. School just wasn’t something I could do at this moment without also sacrificing my mental health. I dropped out with only the plans to live life better than the one I currently hated so much. I started working more hours at the job I loved, saving money for something I wasn’t sure of quite yet.
Around this point, one of my friends asked me where I was the happiest
I told him without a doubt it’s sitting on the side of the Niobrara River after a long day of tubing and hiking around. You see, I’m always the best version of myself when I’m surrounded by nature. I made the choice to start hiking more. On trail I found a sort of happiness that one only finds in nature. On one of my weekly hikes it finally hit me; now was the time to just go for it. I needed to make an attempt on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, I at least needed to try. This idea overjoyed me! For the first time in a long time, I was excited about life again. It was the first big decision I would make that was for myself and not because it was what I was supposed to do. It was time to turn my dreams into a reality.
From that decision onward, things in life started to get really good
At the end of summer, I got news that my family would be moving to Colorado for my father’s work. Most people are sad to leave their hometown but I was overjoyed! I was ready for change. Yes, the trail would have to be put off a year but I would get to experience the joy of Colorado. Hiking here after hiking in Nebraska is like a whole new world of adventures. The trails have challenged me and gave me new love for the earth around me.
While here I have also gotten a clean bill of health from my doctor. According to her, I am in full-fledged remission! She gave me her blessing to thru-hike as long as I pay attention to my body and call her if anything changes. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
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Tl;dr; I am the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life
I never know when my Crohn’s will decide to show up and possibly disable me. So while I’m healthy and happy I’m going to live the life I dream for and right now I dream for the Appalachian Trail.
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