Why am I hiking the Appalachian Trail

Insanity you say

Hello my name is Noel, (no trail name yet) and at 47 years old I have chosen to leave behind two businesses, my home and my wife. in order to go out and be selectively homeless on the Appalachian trail for the next 6 months or so. Honestly It has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I think most people would agree that leaving the comfort of your home, money from your job, and the general ease in which we as people exist from day to day could possibly be insane. Maybe I am insane to do this, but I will welcome the insanity with open arms, a goofy grin and bring some others like me along for the ride.

List of reasons why I am doing this

  • I would like to know the feeling of being able to accomplish something that takes true patience.
  • Time alone with my thoughts, seeking peace
  • I enjoy the outdoors and the lessons it provides
  • I would like to meet new interesting people that I otherwise would not have.
  •  The need to get back to basics and what really matters
  • I’m not getting any younger so why not?
  • Because its perfectly normal to put your business on hold for 6 months just to walk in the woods.
  • Because “The mountains are calling, and I must go”


Where it all started

About two years ago I was in my second year of owning my own home inspection business. I was doing very well with it so well that there were times that I  couldn’t fit one more appointment into my schedule. I was working 6-7 days a week with real estate agents and clients emailing, calling or texting me sometimes as late as 11 pm.  Although I was making a lot of money and doing very well, but everyone and everything else took a back seat to the business even me.

It was around this time that I started thinking about how life was when I didn’t have to answer the phone or respond to a text, and had less people demanding my time.  I had just seen the movie and read the book, Into the Wild the story of Christopher McCandless, and although the story had a bad ending I was intrigued enough to start looking into this whole live life simply idea.

So it begins

Starting on February 28th I will bid goodbye to my kids, and my wife and I will drive to Amicalola Falls in Georgia, Attend the Appalachian Trail Kick Off celebration and on March 3rd I will say goodbye to my wife as I start my long Journey home.

Since the idea first came to mind around two years ago, I have done more personal thinking and have tried to find what this hike will mean to me. I thought about events that had great impacts in my life. The most notable events other than the birth of my kids, was the Suicides of My Grandfather, My Dad, and a Marine Corps. brother.

Although its been a few years since these things all happened they are scars that have never healed. and because of that have brought me much pain over the years. Because of this pain I decided that I wanted to not just hike for my own mental clarity and peace of mind. I also found that I would like to see about helping others along the way that are also in need. So I have been in contact with my local VA Hospital, to let them know about this hike why I’m doing it and to see if they could reach out to others that may be interested in talking with someone who understands their pain and anguish. Maybe even see if they would like to hike with me for a day, so they may be able to clarify their thoughts as well.

So that folks is why this old guy is hiking the Appalachian Trail,

or at least a brief synopsis anyway.




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Comments 13

  • Deb : Jan 7th

    God bless your journey. May you find refreshment and peace on the trail.

    • Noel Nason : Jan 7th

      Thank you

      • Tina Swick : Jan 8th

        Good Luck Noel….Like you….I am setting out to do the same thing but in 2019! It is so sureal to leave it all behind and yet that day can’t get here fast enough!!!!! I can hardly wait!!!

  • Scott : Jan 7th

    Safe travels Noel! I’m looking forward to watching your journey. I have a similar life story (retired Coast Guard, several family/friend suicides, crappy high-paying job that keeps me away from my family, etc.), and although I’m not hiking the trail, I’m also doing something audacious.

    We’re quitting everything and selling everything, and my wife is hiking the AT (March 15 start), and I’m going to following with our 5 year-old twins in our 23′ RV.

    It’s a good thing you’re doing with the VA, thanks! I hope our paths cross along the way.

  • Gil Dunn : Jan 7th

    Safe travels…just like deployment, depression is common during these things. Every day will bring failures…i.e., learning opportunities.
    As ex-mil, you know that unexpected consequences of your choices await your return to your family.
    Keep in mind that they led lives without you, that they may not be that interested in your stories, and that your homecoming will not be what you expect.
    The Trek is about you. The homecoming is about them.

  • Ted : Jan 7th

    Good luck! I did it in 1996. You’ll meet some truly wonderful people along the way. The beginning of the trail can be tough while your body transitions to hiking all day. Try to keep pack weight down. Have fun!

  • Adam : Jan 7th

    Be safe,stay warm,keep hydrated,and remember the reason why when you feel tired and worn out. This is truly a great thing your doing. I’d wish you luck,but you don’t need it,because you got this.

  • Ruth morley : Jan 7th

    Noel, your reasons for doing the AT are all excellent, and many of us share these with you. You will meet such interesting folks on and off the trail, and you will connect with nature as you never have before. And I know that your countless hours on the path will give you comfort.

    I did 500 miles last spring/summer till tendonitis cut it short. Learn from me: no matter how gung ho and strong you feel, keep your daily distances at 10 miles or less at least the first 2 weeks. I didn’t and I paid big time for it. You’ll have 5 more months to gradually increase the daily miles. I have run 52 marathons and ultramarathons, and I think of the AT as an extreme ultra. I always run much slower during the first fourth of a marathon, and only gradually increase speed (distance, in this case) as I cover the miles. The goal is to finish. Let those jack rabbits bolt out of the gate. Be the tortoise the first month, and you’ll finish the course.

    I’ll be back out there, tendonitis healed, SOBO from southern VA in late April. I hope to cross paths with you. And please don’t feel old. There are a lot of us in our 60’s out there!!! You’re a spring chicken!

  • Noel Nason : Jan 7th

    Thank you all for your encouragement and support, you have no idea how much it means to me. I will be taking it slow as I start. And will gradually increase as my fitness increases. I am looking forward to this journey. And meeting so many new people.

  • Glenn : Jan 8th

    We are very proud of you Noel and you will be in our prayers daily. I only hope that you will be able to find the answers you are looking for. Peace will come, as you spend some of this time in solitude and ask the Lord to reveal what he has for you. With love always.

  • Barb Abney : Jan 11th

    I wish I wasn’t starting behind you but alas if all goes well it will be March 25 or so for me. I hear the truth of your words and that is exactly what I plan to pursue over the next six months.

  • Holly : Jan 13th

    “The mountains are calling…”
    Isn’t that really the only reason any of us needs?
    Have a great hike!

  • Chip : Jan 13th

    Small world, looks lime I am not the only Home Inspector on the trail this year! Same age, and a lot of the same reasons too! Good luck to you.


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