Even Though You Didn’t Ask, Here’s Why—
Once More Into The Breach…
Call me Charles. Sometime in my 62nd year I became restless again and started to take inventory of how to quell this. Caught somewhere between Captain Ahab and Don Quixote, I did not want to chase whales and was tired of jousting with windmills. What to do?
Having first thought of hiking the Appalachian Trail over 35 years ago, before the advent of the internet, and when what was available were books and speculation. I recalled seeing two would be hikers at Denny’s one Sunday morning in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They were clad in their hiking outfits and had such a book. From unintentionally hearing part of their conversation, they apparently met weekly to discuss hiking the AT. It puzzled me as to why they were talking about hiking on such a fine day and not out doing it. That is neither here nor there.
I began to investigate the AT and my imagination was swept up. My previous hiking experience had been in the Boy Scouts and the US Army, neither hiking experiences were recalled with much nostalgia. Life, career, and responsibilities put what had soon become a dream onto the someday list. When deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 my thoughts once again returned to thru hiking the AT. I kept it to myself and decided if I were to come out of my second war unscathed, I would travel back East and attempt the trail. As fate would have it, I was not unscathed. It has taken me almost 12 years of inching my way through the hard scrabble of healing in both mind and body, and I began training towards the dream of walking 2,200 miles.
As combat fit as I was 35 years ago, I have chosen an early January start for the solitude and will leave my beloved Montana for warmer weather. Carrying with me a warrior’s will and a poet’s heart I will not return home until I have traversed the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. I bid you, join me on this journey. It will be interesting! Seeing the far side of each turn, mountain, and valley drives me to want to see more. See you somewhere on the far side!
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