Getting Ready to Frolic Amongst the Trees


As I have been getting ready to hike the Appalachian Trail by doing less and less preparation than I initially planned for, I was starting to think, maybe I won’t do the whole trail… I feel like I’ve got very little prepared at this point, I injured my knee a month ago (FROM WALKING) and haven’t been very active, and my plan to put on some pounds as camel fat for the journey means I am now fat and lazy. I’ve got two weeks before I start. The reality of living five somewhat lonely and grueling months in the woods is setting in. I’m going to be so stinky, so sore, get mauled by a swarm of black flies, get the norovirus that’s going around, and realize that I can just hop off anytime. “Namaste’ and walk away,” as my guru might say.

NO!!! I’ve decided. I won’t let that be! My guru would proverbially whip me for misusing that quote! Purpose, patience, and perseverance are what I really need. A little help from ‘s founder revitalized the purpose I forgot about.

Appalachian Trials

Zach Davis – who has become a legend in my life in the past two weeks – wrote a book called Appalachian Trials, which details how one can emotionally and mentally prepare for the AT. Or so the cover says; I only read the first 32 pages in the past few hours. BUT, that’s all I needed right now. On page 28 he says to write answers to the prompts “I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…” and “When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I will…”, then he says to ‘publicly state’ my mission. So here I am, stating my mission, and I’ll share my answers too:

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because:

  • I want to further my connection with my inner-self and nature
  • I want a challenge to practice patience and perseverance
  • I want to learn ‘undependence,’ being fully self-sufficient and self-motivated
  • I can forage!
  • There will be so many flippin cool people to meet
  • I can live the principles of Jnana, Raja, Bhakti, and Karma yoga
    • Essentially spread Love in every way I can
  • I will have plenty of time to introspect, reflect, and connect with the Divine as I understand it/him/them/what?
  • I will have so much fun!!

When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will:

  • Know better who I am and my purpose going forward
  • Be totally comfortable with myself
  • Be more emotionally aware
  • Have new depth in my relationships to others
  • Have a new appreciation for that which I take for granted
  • Have a blog! (Thank you again Zach Davis and team)
  • Have great stories to share and learn from
  • Have a strong momentum of discipline and servitude

Then the book says to answer “If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…” and proceeds to list possible self-degrading remarks. Ehhhhhh I don’t really subscribe to this prompt. I am learning to be nice to myself. What I will say is: if I stop short, it’s either because I’ve already achieved that which I listed above, or more pressing events have surfaced in my life. Finishing the trail will not suddenly result in the goals I set out. I will be earning them as I go. On the flip side, even if I do finish, I won’t necessarily possess these qualities. They are aspects of myself that I’ve been working on, am working on, and will likely always be working on. I’m ready to accept whatever outcome is waiting for me.

Whatever happens, I won’t give in to the demands of comfort, complacency, fear, or other ego desires. I am set on the path of growth, and I won’t be swayed. Even if my dad brings up another case of a hiker being murdered in the woods. I promise it won’t be me…

Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far! Thank you to my parents for financially supporting my departure from career norms, Saucha and Jnanda for guiding my growth, and everyone at Hiranyagarbha Yuga Ashram for creating such a Loving community. Namaste’!

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Comments 1

  • jen l : Apr 5th

    Hey Devan! I’m so excited that you are planning to at least start the trail! It’s a big decision, and nobody knows the ins and outs, and ups and downs until they get out there. As much as I love being in the woods, I don’t think I could ever do it. So, hats off to all of you! I’ll look forward to reading more. For now, Namaste 🙏


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