I Was Born for This

Well, I did it. I made it to my one-month trail-iversary. Before embarking on this journey, I told myself that I would hike for a month no matter what my experience was and then, if it was not what I desired, I could come off trail. I can thankfully say I have absolutely loved hiking the Appalachian Trail so far and I have no intentions of coming off until I summit Mt. Katahdin in Maine. So, I want to do a little trail breakdown of what my first month has included.

During this month I have hiked 317 on trail miles. I have hiked in rain, sleet, hail, snow, and sun. I’ve hiked in three of the 14 states (Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee). I have slept in my tent 25 out of 30 nights. I have been a tourist in Hiawassee, Ga., Franklin, N.C., Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Hot Springs, N.C. I saw the sun rise from Clingmans Dome (the highest point on the AT) and I watched the sunset from Max Patch (a bald mountain with a 360 degree view). I’ve been up five fire towers.

I have had trail magic that varied from free rides to snacks to full meals to strangers buying my meal in restaurants and Colonial American reenactors to hand-knit hats and more. I experienced Easter, which is my favorite holiday, on trail and it was different but still great. I participated in the #MarchForOurLives by attaching a sign to my pack. I have hung my food from a tree every night so animals can’t get it. I have found a lifestyle that allows me to eat more food than I ever have in my life and still lose weight. I’ve read two books, “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “Eat, Pray, Love.”

My Aunt Steph, her mom, and Ms. Jenn from my hometown all visited me on trail. I’ve witnessed Handstand walk down 51 stairs on her hands, I’ve learned to be careful when using the phrase “story of my life” from Milkeye, and I have learned that “Somebody’s got to do it” when it comes to questionable life choices from Pro. I’ve worried that my drunk friends might stumble off a mountain. I’ve taken a natural hot spring with friends. I’ve met incredible people with inspiring stories about how they ended up on trail. Hikers who started way after me have passed me and I have passed hikers who started before me. I have said goodbye to hikers who decided the trail was not for them.

I have been moved to tears of amazement by the wonderful world God created that I experience day in and day out.

But it hasn’t all been perfect. My feet have hurt, my knees have hurt, and my shoulder has hurt. I have two blisters; one on each big toe.  I have been lonely. I have been cold and missed the comforts of home. I appreciate trash cans, running water, and toilets more than I thought possible. This isn’t easy and I understand why people quit, but the good far outweighs the bad for me. If my opinion of trail life changes and I choose to come off I know that everything I have accomplished is a success.

The most important thing the trail has taught me is to never settle for unhappiness. The world is a wonderful place and tomorrow is never guaranteed, so go out and enjoy it.

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Comments 2

  • Avatar
    Steve Fopeano : Apr 23rd

    Thank you for your 4/22/18 post. Nicely written, embrace the ambivalence.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    mike : Apr 26th

    Great narrative of an awesome trip. You have the mindset to complete your trip. I hope you can experience a sunrise on Mt K-its awesome. if not, try to go towards the Me coast to experience it, maybe even sooner than when the rays reach Katadhin. Great way to start reintegration into “society” Keep up the openeness to the unexpected and enjoy ea day and experience as it evolves. 2 Spirits

    Reply

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