If at first you don’t succeed…

A year and a half ago, I stepped through the archway at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia to begin a two thousand mile walk to Maine. Two hundred miles later, I boarded a plane to go back home, the result of a chance injury. When I began my hike, I knew that only one in four hikers make it to Katahdin. I never thought I’d be one of the three who do not.

Like most thru hikers, I sacrificed a lot to hike the trail. I gave up a secure job and a comfortable life in civilization to live in the woods for several months. Deciding to do this once in a lifetime is reckless enough for most sane people, so why am I deciding to do it again?

It turns out that dreams don’t die easily, especially when you’ve dreamed of something for twenty years. After I returned from my abbreviated journey, I thought I could move on. My new plan was to hike sections of the trail each year, eventually completing every mile. Thru hiking is overrated, right? But no matter what I told myself, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling of a dream unfulfilled, steps not taken. I was still a thru hiker at heart.

And now I am a thru hiker again.

In March of 2017 I will begin a new journey north. When I step off from Springer Mountain for the second time, I will also begin a new man, having more experience, knowledge, and determination than before. But although many things will be different about this hike (maybe some white diamonds to start?), my reasons for hiking remain the same.

Like the first time, my hike will be a pilgrimage, an opportunity for spiritual enlightenment and self discovery. I will trade the schedules, obligations, and demands of my busy life for a simpler existence in which my main task will be to put one foot in front of the other. And like the first time, success, failure, and everything in between will be possible because that’s what makes life the awesome experiment that it is.

Samuel Smiles once said “we learn wisdom from failure much more than from success.” I learned many lessons from falling short of my goal in 2015, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try again. I welcome you to follow along as I do.

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Comments 5

  • Zach : Oct 31st

    Beautiful intro, Wayfinder. Second time’s the charm.

  • Edward Sessoms : Nov 1st

    Mr. Zach…First things first. Thank you so much for “Badger Daily Fix”. My trail name is “Ranger”. I read “Badger daily”. Just wanted to say best – of – luck to the hiker that will try it again. I have started from Springer Mtn. eight times. No I have not made it to Katahdin. My final attempt will be in 2017. I have met all the trail legends. Warren Doyle..Seiko..Baltimore Jack..Wing Foot…Del Doc..Jennifer Davis..Ms. Janet..Ron Haven just to mention a few. Did I mention that I am 74 years of age. The AT is my life. My Heart lives there. We will re-connect again in 2017. Mr. Zach..Thanks again………………………………………………………………………………….Ranger

  • Sara : Nov 1st

    I can’t wait to meet all of you out there!!! I’m starting March 29, 2017!!! Best of luck.

  • Ernie : Nov 1st

    Looking forward to your adventures. ?

  • Cowboy hard : Nov 2nd

    See you on the trial, hope to have great hike. Thru hike NOBO in March 6 2017. No trail name yet.


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