As I Set Out, I’m Living the Life I Imagined
Tomorrow’s the big day.
I’m currently driving down to the start of the Appalachian Trail. I’ll be heading out in the morning to start the approach trail at Amicalola State Park in Georgia. Back in November, when I realized my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail was going to become a reality, I could not wait, but the time seemed to drag during the college winter break. I can remember mentioning in one of my blog post that I had 70-odd days until I would begin. Once the school semester started, the time flew by. It seems like yesterday that I began planning, and in less than 24 hours I’ll be stepping off on a 2,200 mile journey.
One additional challenge during this hike is being a part-time college student. I am currently enrolled in six credit hours while hiking on the trail. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to work with two incredible teachers at Bowling Green State University. My classes include two independent studies that I’ve designed myself with their help. One class is focused on environmental sociology, and the other is American environmental literature (starting during the transcendentalist movement to modern day). During the first six weeks of the semester, I was enrolled in a co-op through my college with a permaculture farm. This co-op and these two classes have gauge me in a direction toward the Appalachian Trail.
Over the past two months I’ve followed my blog posts on ways to prepare for the trail. I balanced my efforts between physical and mental preparations. I focused much energy on getting up early and going to the gym — calf raises, running, and biking were my go-to. I also did yoga and got out for many shakedown hikes, and a few overnight camping trips. It was difficult getting out to camp as much as I would have liked because of the winter weather here in Ohio, but I feel confident in my gear and setting it all up. Much of my training was alongside other people, and that really helped with the enjoyment of preparing. Aside from physical training, I read or watched many articles, blog posts, and YouTube videos about people who have thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. There is an immense amount of knowledge out there to prepare for a trip like this. I don’t think one source holds all the answers, but they do serve to give a general direction to step off. In addition to practical sources in preparing, I also read many environmental literature books by people who’ve lived or journeyed in nature. These authors include Edmund Burke, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Leopold, Mary Oliver, Muir, E.O Wilson, and James Lovelock. These authors and their books have had a huge impact on my thinking leading up to this hike. Each author frames the world and our connection to it in a very unique way, one that emphasizes a strong interconnectedness between all things. I will be searching for this interconnectedness on my own hike, and the potential to bring it back home when I return.
Going into this, I have not set strong expectations to gain from the trail. I’ve mapped out my reasons for this adventure, and I’ve shared my excitement and passion for the hike with others. I have general expectations such as blisters, rain (possibly snow), being sore, meeting amazing people, and hiking a lot; but I don’t expect any more than that because I want my mind-set to be malleable and my eyes to be open. I can’t wait to share this experience on my blog with my family, friends, and anyone else interested in reading about it. Before setting out for this journey, I want to thank my family, friends, and girlfriend for their support in this dream. It’s hard to break away from everything in order to follow the itch for adventure. I’ll end this post by some words of wisdom by Henry David Thoreau, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”
And now, I head north.
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