I have been struggling to write another post since I hiked Mt Whitney, because I haven’t done anything totally awesome and worth bragging about.
However, I have spent the last two and a half months in Yosemite National Park having the time of my life.
I made the decision to live and work in Yosemite in the months leading up to my AT hike thinking it would be a great way to meet outdoorsy people and get some good hiking in to prepare myself.
I’m not going to lie and pretend that I have done any notable amount of hiking since I have gotten here, however, I have made friends with some of the best people I have ever met and realized that that is a big part of what this is all about.
So that’s the answer to the BIG “WHY?”
I have a number of reasons for wanting to hike the AT that can be summed up with grandiose statements such as:
– to find purpose in life
Yes, I am in the post-graduation fog, I have a BA in Business Management, and as of yet, no desires to work in business….or management. Having spent my college years in retail management, HR, health insurance, and waiting tables, I was ready to run for the hills, literally.
– to enjoy the beauty of nature
I didn’t grow up doing outdoorsy things and I’m ready to make up for lost time with the great outdoors. I find myself stopping on my walk to work in Yosemite just to look up at the sky through the canopy of trees, or stare at the granite walls and admire their timeless strength and peace and wondering what it was like before we were here and what it will be like after we are gone.
– to escape the confines of this consumer-driven society
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” – Tyler Durden
You’d be surprised when you remove major sources of advertising from your life, (i.e. television, radio, excessive internet use) and you start to ask yourself about your reasons for need, that the only thing you actually need is food. I already have clothes, I already have a shelter, I have a way to carry those things anywhere I go.
– to push myself physically and regain trust in my own body
At 16, I had a spinal fusion to correct scoliosis and at 23, I broke a vertebrae while cliff-jumping into a lake. The combination of these two things have made me fearful and tentative, and I am burdened by a seemingly endless list of things I’m not supposed to do, that I suddenly want to do more than ever. (skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, watersports, running, jumping) … ok, let’s be honest, I have no interest in running.
I do have an interest in proving to myself and my body that I can still be strong and fun and adventurous and not meek and apprehensive.
But the thing that got me hooked on the AT, the real reason I can’t wait to get out there, is what I have read about the hiker community, and what I experienced volunteering with the ATC in May 2014.
When I volunteered to work on the trail in Grayson Highlands State Park in VA with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, I had been thinking about hiking the AT for about 5 months and knew that it would be the deciding factor. I was surprised that there were only a few thru-hikers in the volunteer group and I was the only aspiring thru-hiker, but my time there was nothing short of inspirational. The hikers in the group were loving and encouraging, asked questions about my plans, and gave advice. I’m sure they could tell how inexperienced I am, but they all gave me a solid “you-can-do-it”, which was definitely the most encouragement I had gotten so far. But the hikers on the trail were my true muse; the thru-hikers I saw were filthy, and hairy, and grinning from ear to ear. I was jealous and a fire was lit, I wanted to jump on the trail and start walking right then and there.
I want to belong to a group of people who are ready to drop everything and run into the woods. A group of people that are beaming and full of joy on day 42 of living outside. A group of people who are willing to do anything in their power to help each other out. A group of people who are free of judgment because no matter how different their backgrounds, they know they have at least one thing in common.
I am excited to share my story and hear other hikers’ stories and to find out what inspirations, questions, or problems led them to the AT and to know that we all agreed on the same answer.
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.