I’m Doing This. Here’s Why. (Screw Baby Steps.)

Turning in My Homework

I’m a good student.  A bad planner, but a good student.

Appalachian Trials was the second book I read about thru-hiking in an effort to educate myself.

I’ve read a lot of AT books, even though I know the real education starts April 26 when I step on the trail and the white blazes start pulling me north.

But only one of those books I’ve read has had exercises (!) and worksheets (!)…homework I joyfully and dutifully completed, printed out and hung on the wall next to my Appalachian Trail national park map so I could see them both every day.

Pressing the Pause Button on Fear

I shared my why on my own blog when I first created it.  It felt safe because I knew nobody was reading.

Now people are reading and I’m a tad shy about sharing.

But I got some good advice about fear from a fellow yoga teacher once.  He said the moment he feels resistance to doing something, whether it’s making a difficult phone call or starting a project or hitting the publish button on a blog post, he knows that thing he’s resisting is something that MUST be done, fear be damned.

And he stops thinking about it, presses the pause button on the fear and forges ahead with the difficult thing, knowing that there is growth in the facing of fears.

Today, I’m pressing the pause button on my own fear and sharing my why.

Here’s what I wrote that day I finished my Appalachian Trials homework.

Why I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail:

  1. To restore my sense of unwavering self-confidence for doing daring things, a confidence that seems to have gone into hibernation over the last ten years and that I’m looking forward to getting to know again over the next six months.
  2. To connect with my uber-capable, extraodinary bad ass self that is longing to be seen and heard.
  3. To create a precedent of success for completing epic, difficult and meaningful things, so I can then draw on that success and go on to create and complete more epic, difficult and meaningful things in the future.
  4. To learn how to ask for, and receive, help when I need it.
  5. Because riding a bike across Europe was one of my proudest, and hardest, achievements.  The sheer difficulty made it worthwhile as an endeavor.  That was thirty years ago.  It’s time go again with another hard and worthwhile thing.
  6. My peeps are on the trail.  I want to be with my peeps, who don’t care if my fingernails are dirty, my hair is uncombed and my outfit is weird.
  7. I just like poking around in nature on my own schedule–I’m happiest when marveling at snakes and flowers and fungi, taking naps on sun-warmed rocks, eating with a long-handled spoon out of a titanium cup.
  8. I’m craving adventure, a break from my routine.
  9. Because I want an excuse to wear a Buff every day.
  10. To learn how to “hike my own hike,” both on the trail and then in my life.  I want to be unapologetic about taking the lead in my own life.
  11. Because baby steps aren’t working!  

Screw baby steps.

I’ve been mincing along my life at a baby step pace for a while now, since I sold my gallery in 2007.  The baby step pace has not yet led to clarity, success or even much in the way of Woo Hoos or fist bumps.

This is what’s known as stuck, and I see this journey as a way to dissolve the glue!

I’ve had an idea of where I hoped to go, but nothing felt right, so I haven’t been committed.

My baby steps have been tentative because I haven’t known for sure what’s next in my life or where exactly I’m going.

Ta Da!  Now I Know!

Now this literal trek north from Georgia to Maine is also emerging as my metaphorical True North.  The clarity and passion that it has already ignited for this new direction in my life is something I’d almost given up on.

Since I decided to hike…

Doors have opened.

People have appeared.

Opportunities have presented themselves.

I’m not even on the trail, yet, but I know where the trail is leading beyond Katahdin, beyond six months of walking.

I’m clear on the next phase of my life, even as it unfolds in surprising ways.

Fulfilling this Why of my hike is giving me the giant steps I need to get unstuck and it’s propelling me towards my new and improved purpose, which will revolve around the trail and trail magic and helping others succeed and, quite likely, a Scamp.

I’m done with the baby steps.

Nothing left to do but hike.  And let the giant steps take me where they may.  Hold on for the ride.  Open to receive.  Allow it to unfold.

And know that I might have a list of “whys,” but at this point, I really don’t have any other choice.

This is happening, with or without my Buff.

And you?  Leave a comment and let us know where the trail is leading you.

Why #9: I want an excuse to wear a Buff on my head every day should I so choose.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 4

  • Karen : Feb 8th

    So agree! Especially about the Buff, I’m wearing my new one every day just cuz! Go for it and let life unfold before you. I’ll be along next year.

  • Darrell Barrett : Feb 8th

    Great attitude! See you on the Trail,

  • Kate G : Feb 10th

    Great list! And I love my Buff, too!

  • scott herndon : Feb 17th

    awesome post i am doing a flip flop too from near my home in tennesse leaving april 1


What Do You Think?