You Only Get One Life: My Reasons For Hiking the AT
Alright folks, it’s public commitment time!
I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because….
1. It’s time to clean house: It’s been a long-time since I’ve done some deep self work. My connection to my higher power feels stifled and I spend of my day living in my head rather then my heart. I spend too much time fighting off insecurities, negativity and a sense of loneliness. The woods is where I go to reconnect, walking is healing to me. The Divine and I have some reconnecting to do, and the trail is our long awaited date.
2. It scares the shit of out me: Walking from Georgia to Maine is insane in and of itself. Then add in bears, lightening, sleeping alone in the middle of the woods and hours in my own head, and it’s down right terrifying. I learned a while back that the things that scare me are exactly what I need to do. Moving through the fear is how I grow, it’s how I become the person I am supposed to be. I can feel there is a best version of myself waiting to be uncovered on this journey.
3. Kicking loneliness to the curb: For as long as I can remember I’ve had the nagging feeling of being deeply lonely. Even with other people I feel set apart in some weird way and it bothers me. The AT is an opportunity for me to fully embrace being alone. To face myself my head and dare I say fall in love with myself. Part of me knows I’m pretty awesome and it’s time to own that.
4. This body of mine and I need to make peace: I can’t remember a time I’ve truly appreciated my body. Honestly, I’ve gotten to a point where I avoid looking in mirrors. Give me a huge goal that requires my mind, I can crush that, but a physical goal….eh. I need to prove to myself I can be as physically strong as I am mentally. But to do that, my body and I first need to make peace. If I’m going to make it to Katahdin, I’ll have no choice but to get in tune with everything my body is experiencing and learn to love it for carrying my ass over each and every mountain.
5. It’s time to live in the present: I spend so much time living in my mind, thinking and planning for the future. Being a goal-orientated and strategic person is a real asset, but this ability comes at the expense of living in the moment. With no goal but to walk, the AT is a amazing opportunity to finally discover how to live in the now. The AT is not a race, I will have to take it one day at a time. And why would I want to rush, it’s going to be awesome.
6. I want to find my tribe: I thrive when I am apart of a great community and I can’t imagine a better community to be apart of then the AT’s. It’s a gift to be able to connect with so many amazing and different people who share the same goal and a love for the trail.
7. It will help my career: In the immediate I’ll be a much happier employ in my new job for doing this. In the long-term I want to work in the outdoor industry and hiking the AT will give me a outdoor street cred. We get some sort of merit badge at the end, right? A secret handshake?
8. I will never have another chance to do this: When else will I have no car, no rent, no partner, no pet and a break between jobs to take an adventure like this? Probably never. I have to take this time and make it glorious! I want to experience at least one grand, beautiful, challenging and truly life changing adventure in my life and hiking the AT is it.
9. I want the freedom that comes with a simple life: For all it’s comforts, normal life is messy and complicated. I sometimes wonder if we are living for the right reasons. Hiking is my chance to live a simple, straightforward life with one goal and no pressure. See ya later multi-tasking.
10. Screens and I need to take a break: I spend way too much time on my phone, ipad and computer. This is my chance to break free of the cycle of screens and feeling the need to connect.
11. Sitting is killing me: Seriously, it’s a very slow and very painful death.
12. It’s what I’m supposed to do: It’s like the Rumi quote says “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. I can feel the AT calling deep down and I am choosing to follow.
When I successfully thru-hike the AT, I will…
1. Be the best version of myself
2. Have gained amazing self awareness and confidence
3. Have heart, mind and body that strong, clear, at peace and in alignment
4. Have a kick-ass story to tell
5. Finally feel like I am “outdoorsy”
6. Have new career opportunities open to me
7. Be happier then I have ever been
8. Taken full advantage of this amazing time off I have
9. Know how to live in the present
10. No longer be afraid of bears
11. Appreciate the little things so much more, like my bed!
12. Have memories and experiences that I will cherish forever
13. Feel like a total bad-ass
14. Get to frame a giant size picture of me on top of Katahdin
If I give up on the AT, I will…
1. Regret leaving every single day of my life, the decision will haunt me
2. Be embarrassed after telling everyone I know (and lots of of people I don’t) that I am thru-hiking and failed
3. Loose confidence in myself and I’m not sure I would ever fully recover
4. Be much less likely to realize my goal of working in the outdoor industry
5. Continue to feel bad about myself
It’s okay to walk away from the trail if…
1. I get injured in some really big way. I’d like to be able to continue to play in the outdoors for years to come then ruin my ability to do it forever
2. I get lymes disease very very badly, again (5x already!). I don’t bounce back if I don’t catch it early and I don’t want to be sick for 2-3 years, again.
3. A family member/close friend falls very ill – enough said.
I am training for the trail by…
- Crossfit Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning
- Short hike (~5 miles) with pack: Friday
- Long hike with pack (~8-12 miles): Sundays
- Several weekend overnight backing trips throughout the fall
- 2.5 months backpacking through New Zealand Jan-Mid March 2015
I’m preparing by…
- Getting in better hiking shape
- Gear testing/gaining backpacking experience in NZ
- Researching how to fuel my hiking sans gluten and dairy. Most likely via making my own dehydrated meals
- Getting back in the habit if meditating
- Connecting the AT community via blog/fb/calls/emails
- Heading to Outdoor 79 for shoes and a gear shakedown
- Bringing my friends and family along for the journey via this blog, FB, phone calls and emails
Wow, shit just got real, didn’t it? No turning back now.
Photo courtesy the-yoga-connection.com
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Hiyee! I would love to pick your brain about somethings, being a future 2016 thru-hiker! Is there any way I could get your e-mail address?