Why I’m Not On The Appalachian Trail
I absolutely loved my time on trail. I want to make it clear that it was an awesome experience and I recommend it to everyone. It is an opportunity to meet all kinds of new people and experience some very unique situations. Just because I got off trail does not mean that I did not like it. It just did not align with what I was looking for at this time in my life. However, to new grads, retirees, or just anyone with a wild hair, go hike the Appalachian Trail. You will not be disappointed in how much fun you will have. Even the worst times on trail are better than a bad day at work. You will find that you can weather any storm and get through incredibly difficult circumstances if you put your mind to it.
I Am Off Trail
After two months, and around 632 miles, I have gotten off the trail. This comes as a shock to many, but I felt this was the right decision to make for me. I had been toying with the idea of getting of trail for around a month, but finally made the decision to do so. The trail was amazing, but I felt like it was time to move on. I was honestly somewhat ashamed at first of the idea of quitting and did not want to tell anyone. I am the type of person that the only way I quit something is if I physically no longer have the ability to go on. However, in this instance I decided to throw in the towel, but it was for the right reasons.
I am an avid reader, and try to learn as much as possible about what it means to be a man. It is my belief that every person should have core values that guides them on their way. These values should be used in every decision making process to determine what is right and wrong so that they may behave in a way that aligns with these values. In my decision making process I had two values of mine that were clashing which made it difficult to make a decision. On the one hand I always finish what I start, and believe I should do things that I say I am going to do. On the other hand, I only have one life, and if something I am doing is not what I want then I should change that thing.
I am not one to let someone else’s opinion of me determine how I should live my life. However, I felt as if I were letting everyone down by not completing this task. People are most definitely going to talk about how I “failed” at thru-hiking the AT. However, I will not let their opinions shape the opinion of myself. I am the only one that knows why I went out there, and I am the only one that can determine what is right for myself. I will most likely hear things such as, “I told you you wouldn’t do it.” Maybe even, “It was too tough for you huh?” However, I refuse to allow any negativity about it to get to me, because other people don’t understand.
My Reasons For Leaving
- I went into the woods to challenge myself. However, hiking the Appalachian Trail is pretty easy. As a matter of fact I found out that I’m pretty damn good at hiking.
- Rather than a significant challenge and spiritual journey, I found myself to be on an extended vacation. I was focused more on hanging out with people than developing myself personally.
- The purpose of going on the trail and being in the woods is to escape society. In search of peace and quiet I found myself talking to people more than I do at home. Hiking the AT has become a very social affair as opposed to the ideal solitude that most seek.
- I was constantly surrounded by people. One SOBO hiker told us that he passed 86 NOBO hikers in a 15 mile day. There was most likely over 1,000 hikers within a 100 mile radius of our location at any given time. This is insane. I tried to get away from people, but they followed me into the woods.
- There are constant distractions, which take away from the experience. It is hard to reflect inward when there are so many people talking and doing things around you. It was almost impossible to escape them all. One of my favorite things to do is look at the stars at night, and I only did this around 5 times in those 2 months. I was so wrapped up in hanging out with my new friends that I didn’t pay attention to the natural beauty around me.
- I enjoy writing a great deal, and was keeping a journal pretty religiously at first. I also am writing blog posts for the trek as well so I imagine you can guess how important that is to me. However, the last several weeks I barely wrote at all due to all the distractions.
- I cannot justify going on vacation for that period of time, when my goal was so much deeper than that. I was essentially on an extended camping trip rather than a significant journey.
- My goals were reasonable and the outcome from this trip was to make myself into a better person. I could justify leaving everything behind because I knew there would have been a positive outcome. My loved ones were understanding of this and supportive, and I wanted to make them proud of me. However, I could no longer accept this was the right thing. It would have been incredibly selfish to take several months off just to party away from home. I cannot leave the things that I love most in this world behind for something as shallow as that.
- After a great deal of thought, I realized that I would not regret leaving the trail. This always concerned me about “what ifs” as I like to live my life without regret. After I was sure that I could leave such a large task and not feel bad about it I knew it was time to get off trail.
- The trail had nothing left to teach me. Several of the goals I set out to do I accomplished, and the rest of them I could not accomplish due to the distractions. I learned what I needed to about myself, and gained some valuable skills in the process.
After leaving the trail I still had some money left over from my budget. With this I decided to take a small road trip and knock some things off of my bucket list. As you can tell from the picture, I ended up in St. Louis, Missouri. I set the money aside to go on an adventure and I did exactly that. Even though what constituted as an adventure changed I still used that money to do it. I have no regrets on how I decided to spend that money and time. However, my definition of adventure is changing once again as I take on a new life. My girlfriend and I are moving to Nashville, TN soon and will be having a lot of new experiences together. My life with her is an adventure in itself, and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us.
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