It’s the Journey, Not the Destination

It’s the Journey, not the Destination. That is what we have been telling ourselves for the past 1,900 miles. 


You don’t hike the AT because it’s an efficient way to get to Georgia from Maine. You hike it for the process, not the goal. You hike it for the unique experiences you have each day. You hike it to meet people you would otherwise never see, or never talk to even if you saw them. You hike it to learn about yourself and what you are capable of. You hike it to see the country on “foot-scale”, to gain perspective on nature and on the shear massive size of this country. 
It was very easy to tell ourselves that in Maine, where Springer Mountain was a distant dream and even New Hampshire seemed impossibly far away. 


But now something has changed. We’re in Hot Springs, North Carolina. Springer is less than 275 miles away. Maybe 18 days left. 


Dammit! Now it is about the destination!


That’s what happens when you get close. We are brought up to be goal seekers. We measure. We “achieve”. 


But there is a trade off here. If we focus on the goal, we miss the experience of the journey. We have run into a series of different approaches here in Tennessee/North Carolina. One group of SOBOs, who we will never catch up to, have stepped on the gas. They are pulling 20-30 mile days to just finish. Another flip-flop hiker is deliberately slowing down. He doesn’t want to finish until he absolutely has to, using every single day until he has to fly home. We have also run into people who ran out of gas. They are going off trail with the finish line in sight due to health, boredom, and ennui. 


We have about 18 days left. It includes standout places like Max Patch and the Smokeys. Our eyes a starting to focus on the ultimate destination, but we will try to see and enjoy the adventure as we move forward. We don’t want to rush through at the expense of missing something. We may not pass this way again….

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Jay : Nov 21st

    Yes, it’s the process, and in that respect it’s a microcosm of life in general. It’s taking the road less traveled by. It’s the truly ethical approach over consequentialism. It’s care and attention to detail over expedience. It’s quality and demonstrated accomplishment over renown. It’s self-respect over pride. It’s defining “successful” as having been able to make oneself a better person. It’s smelling the roses along the way.

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