Hello and welcome to my Appalachian Trail blog. My name is Steve Gallagher and on March 19th I will be starting the long walk from Georgia to Maine. As this is my first post, there’s a few things you should know about me right off the bat: 1) I’ve never been on a hiking/camping trip longer than a few days; 2) I will be hiking the AT with a buddy from college who is equally inexperienced; and 3) this will be the most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted, but I will do so with a smile on my face the whole time (figuratively of course; otherwise It would get creepy after the first few days).
In the book Appalachian Trials, Zach Davis stresses that one of the most important determinants of a successful and enjoyable thru-hike is having a clear purpose for your hike and for what you hope to achieve from it. For me, I’m looking to simplify and eliminate distractions. I’m looking to spend time in nature. And I’m looking for an experience, a story for the rest of my life. There’s a quote by author Stephen Leacock that I think of often since first reading it years ago. “Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour.” As far as we know, this is the only life we get, so we better make it count. This sentiment is echoed in the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying in which nurse Bronnie Ware states that the most common regret expressed by patients on their death bed is a form of “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Hiking the AT is my way of following my own path and living now instead of waiting for retirement or some other future opportunity to arrive.
If I may reach out directly to those in my general age bracket for a second, I was going to add one final quote from Professor John Keating from Dead Poets Society about seizing the day, but I think we all had enough of that with Apple’s “What will your verse be” commercial blitz the last few months. Instead, I’ll quote from an equally inspirational fictional teacher–Rod Belding from Bayside High. “You gotta grab life…taking risks…pushing yourself to the limit.” While I lack his lustrous locks, I share his sense of adventure.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to sharing some stories from the trail with you and I hope you will follow along as I attempt this daunting task. See you in Georgia!
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