For someone as disorganized, lazy, and unmotivated as I am, a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail trail is like not getting yelled at by Judge Judy, or watching public access at 3AM without falling asleep, or pimpin’. It ain’t easy.
Perhaps it’s more like standing in front of a lumbering giant from myths and legends. If I stand perfectly still maybe it won’t rip me in half and dance in a pool of my blood. There’s nowhere to run, no where to hide. So I yell and I bark and I throw rocks at it, but it doesn’t move a muscle. Maybe it thinks I’m too insignificant. Well what the hell!? What are you waiting for? KILL ME ALREADY YOU DICKHEAD!
Like some monolith that exists solely to shake me out of apathy, I have to stand and face him or be crushed by the weight of him. So I do. He looks at me with deep thoughtful eyes and I suddenly feel total calm. He knows I’m lost and afraid and tells me that I wouldn’t make a very good meal anyway and that I’d best get moving. He’ll show me the way.
So I prepare to walk in the shadow of a giant. A giant I aim to make my friend.
It felt as though I was coming out of some deep trance. I looked at the sprawling disarray of items I had already purchased or had been handed down to me and realize that if I’m ever to meet my friend, this is the way. Preparation.
Suddenly calm, but with motivation and vigor I’d not previously known, I dug in. What’s left? I went over the gear I had and the gear I needed. Maybe I should get a tent tomorrow. Sleeping bag? Walking sticks? Camp shoes? Batteries for my headlamp? A spare water filter? THERE’S A FUCKING REI GARAGE SALE TOMORROW MORNING!? Shit, I guess I better make a solid attempt at sleeping tonight.
I woke easily at 6am. As if, all of the sudden, waking up at the crack of dawn came as naturally to me as sitting on my fat ass. Walked the dog. Printed out the list of items I found on Printed out my member number. Drove off.
I stood and waited in line. Then, after about 45 minutes, I walked strait into the mess bomb that is an REI garage sale and made a bee-line to the tents. The exact tent I was hoping for was at my feet. On the tag it said “BROKEN CROSSBAR.” There was not a single thing wrong with it. A wonderful little tent that I set up and sat in and imagined all of the upcoming adventures I’ve decided to get myself into. $46? I’m in.
I walked out of there with a perfectly good tent. All I need now is a bit more perspective, a LOT more preparation, and a few more months and I’ll be walking into wilderness. Everything is aligning to that moment, and I’ve never felt more motivated to be ready for it when it’s finally here.

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