Why I’m Hiking the A.T.

Hey everyone! My name is Alexander Newlon or Noodle for short. I’ll answer to both. The major thing you need to know about me is that I’m epileptic and I’ll be heading NOBO in April. As an epileptic I often feel isolated and confined. Trapped because everything I do is dictated by my disease. Little things like light, over exertion or stress could cause an attack. I’ve even been recommended by neurologist’s to not go to concerts, ride roller coaster’s, play video games or watch certain movies. I often wonder when my next seizure will occur because my attacks come with no warning. The types of seizures I have are gran mal or more accurately tonic-clonic seizures. When I have a seizure it causes me to lose consciousness and all muscle control. My muscles stiffen and jerk through out my entire body and each seizure will usually last a few minutes before I regain consciousness. Now knowing all this, try and imagine my parent’s reaction when I told them I’d be attempting to thru hike the A.T. solo! Even with all the scary thoughts going through their imaginations they’ve been incredibly supportive of me and haven’t once tried to talk me out of it.

Even with epilepsy I managed to overcome the odds and became an Eagle Scout with my Boy Scout Troop 210 from Winter Garden, FL. I definitely would not have been able to achieve this without the continuous encouragement from my parents and grandfather and I sincerely thank them all for their help along the way. Through scouts my natural love of nature emerged. Every few weeks we’d all go out camping and hiking as a troop at the surrounding preserves and state parks. I fell in love with just being outdoors. I liked simply hiking from one point to another. Hiking in the New Mexican Mountains at the Philmont Scout Ranch really solidified it all for me. The simple pleasure of living out of your pack and waking up with a new view each morning. I don’t think anything could be better than that. In fact it was my grandfather who bought me my first backpack. A classic red Kelty with an external frame. I always thought I looked cool wearing it but in hindsight that pack dwarfed me. I probably looked like a midget sherpa.

My mother as well as scouts instilled in me a since of moral justice. To protect as well as defend what’s right and to always help and empower the citizens in my community, nation and all around the word. After finding out the medical potential cannabis had in treating epileptics and other severe illnesses while in college it immediately transformed me into an activist and I’ve been one ever since. The last several months I’ve been volunteering with United for Care and other groups in an attempt to pass a medical cannabis law to help the patients in Florida. We had our elections November 4th and although our constitutional amendment failed, I believe we were successful. We managed to get 57.6% out of the required 60% of Florida voters to say yes to medical cannabis. With this majority I hope to see change come to our state within the coming years, either through legislature action or through another constitutional amendment in 2016. Through my activism I’ve been privileged to meet many patients and family members of patients or loved ones affected by the Drug War that could benefit from medical cannabis. They’ve become my friends and allies in this battle and their stories and the continued injustice of others is what inspires me each day to work for a better tomorrow.

I’m often asked: Why I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail?

A simple answer would be that I want to feel alive again. I’m sure many others can relate with me on this but I feel trapped in my life. I let my epilepsy dictate my life. I allowed it to put my dreams on hold and in some cases I used it as an excuse to abandon them.

More accurately though, I’m hiking to take back control of my life. I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail because it has always been a dream of mine and I want to take my dreams and turn them into reality. I’m hiking for all the people that can’t make this incredible journey. I’m hiking to raise awareness about epilepsy and medical cannabis research and hopefully change a few minds along the way. I’m hoping to inspire others by completing this incredibly insane goal of mine. To show them that they too can successfully complete their dreams. No matter how insane or difficult they may be. It all comes down to taking that first step and following the blazes you put in front of you.

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Comments 2

  • Derrick : Jun 13th


    My name’s Derrick Williams. Epileptic, planning an A.T. thru hike in 2017. So many things I would like to ask and say. Thanks for your inspiration, btw. I can empathize when you say “Isolated and confined”. I have the same battle, not easy at times sitting back and watching others, vicariously living. Brings on depression at times.
    A little info about me. I began having seizures midway through high school. I managed to get them under control, even as far as going off meds completely by avoiding “triggers”. Worked for 14 years in which i gained a love for back country hiking and set a goal for Katahdin, until I ended up in a coma after a seizure. Unable to work, I filed for disability. Depression started when I realized I couldn’t work, and had to adapt to a different pay and that itself brought on a whole world of hell.
    I haven’t had a seizure in about a year and that is mostly due to being introduced to Cannabis and its seizure control. I have always hated pills and their, sometimes possession, leaving you zombie like. Also, watching society be taken over by pills and overdoses. Yeah, not my thing.
    Reason I plan a thru hike, knowing that I,am an epileptic. I don’t feel alive anymore. I cloud myself in fear that my next episode could leave me permanently damaged and I want to do something great before that happens, if it does. If I could use cannabis legally, I can work, and probably drive. But since it isn’t, I can’t work, nor should I really be driving. So I walk, and I walk. It is relaxing after all. So, putting two and two together, I decided to hike the AT.
    Sorry for the rant. Discouragement has eaten at me a bit. No one understands my drive. If i can do this, I can sure as hell return to some kind of job. again, sorry for nagging.
    Thanks again for giving a read that I can empathize with. Do you have any suggestions? If my rambling has detoured you from this message, I understand. Have a good day!

  • Nathan : Nov 28th

    Hey. I am nathan, 24 and epileptic as well. I have grand mal seizures. The last one messed my shoulder up and required surgery. I live in maine and work at a dispensary. Since i stopped drinking and started using cannabis in addition to my meds, my seizures stopped. I plan on doing a thru hike in 2017. The hardest part being the money and time. 2074792063

    Hmu on the trail!

    Idk if im nobo or sobo yet


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