In My Defense: Why I Am Hiking the AT
When I tell people I’m going to hike the AT, I get a fairly predictable set of responses and questions. When I tell them I’m hiking solo, the response list further narrows. More often than not, I end up defending myself and my decision to hike 2,200 miles without my husband. Yes, I am happily married, and will be gone for five months on the wrong side of the country. No, I am not crazy.
I love my Person. We both love hiking and backpacking. In fact, we met in a backpacking class almost two years ago and have been inseparable from the start. We got married in May after returning from hiking in the Camino, and we decided together to hike the AT this year. But a lot can happen in a year, and it became evident that I had a clear window when it made sense to do the hike, and he did not. Would I prefer that we log all of the miles together? Yes. Does the fact that the timing didn’t work out for him mean than I am changing my plans? No. If the roles were reversed, I would be just as supportive of him as he has been for me. We are a team, and though we are not physically hiking together for a majority of the trail, it is still a joint effort. I have a one-way ticket to Georgia in March, I have plans to meet up with my East Coast family and friends along the way for what I have dubbed “play dates.” Once the weather warms up a little and I get past Virginia, Person A will meet me for a few weeks, and we’ll walk together. For all the time spent planning a menu that wouldn’t upset my princess tummy, and the hours spent debating whether shaving 20 grams is worth the cost of upgrading perfectly good equipment, admittedly the thing I haven’t given much thought to is an itinerary. My plan is simply to put one foot in front of the other until I can’t anymore.
For me, this isn’t about fulfilling a lifelong dream, I just happen to have a window of time before I (hopefully) start school, although I am still anxiously waiting to find out if I have been accepted anywhere. I’m tired of waiting, I’m tired of planning, I’m tired of defending myself. Maybe this is a dumb idea, and maybe I won’t finish. But I’d rather try and fail, than spend my life wondering if I could have done it. There’s always a reason not to do these things; the trick is finding the courage to do them anyway.
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