Look, I don’t worry now, I’m excited too.
Last blog I laid out my fears so I could attempt to start addressing them. Since then I’ve realized that my preparation exceeds my fear and I will complete my thru-hike. I’ve changed some gear to ward off the cold, and I am embracing all the possibilities of what life has to offer after the trail.
This blog I am discussing all of the things I am excited about because my excitement exceeds my fear.
1. Refocusing on the important things in my life
It is only normal to change and evolve as we age. With all of the changes in my life over the past couple of years I feel like I lost focus on the important things, such as making my happiness a priority. I can’t wait to reconnect with nature and slow down a bit. Life is so short and I want to capitalize on the time I have to be alive.
2. Challenging myself
After hiking for upward of eight hours a day while carrying a 30-pound pack my feet will be destroyed, my thighs will be sore, and my back will be tired. On cold mornings and rainy afternoons, I will be exhausted and lack motivation, but I can’t wait.
3. Visiting new places
The Appalachian Trail runs along the oldest mountain range in the world. In Georgia, I will climb 604 stairs up the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. In Tennessee, I will traverse the highest mountains along the trail (many above 6,000 feet). Plus, I will be able to add Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to the list of states I have visited.
4. Making new friends
I know the bubble is offsetting to a lot of people and they do a lot to try to avoid it, but I can’t wait to meet new people and find my tramily. I look forward to creating connections that will turn into lifelong friendships and making memories that I will share with my family and friends for years.
5. Expanding my worldview
One of the reasons I love meeting new people is because I love exploring different lifestyles and opinions. Despite my personality predispositions, I’ve taken advice from the majority of the internet and not made a spreadsheet of my daily mile goals because I know the plan will go out the window shortly after starting. As someone who usually obsessively makes spreadsheets the trail has already helped expand my personality. This all will help me develop a plan for my life post-hike.
6. Attempting somethings scary
A lot of people ease through the stages of life and do what society expects of them. My blueprint to life has already been torn apart and I am not trying to tape it back together. Instead, I am drawing myself a new one. People ask me if I am afraid or if I plan on bringing a gun. I am afraid, but I choose not to let my fears control me.
7. Spending time with my family before my hike
I moved back home in the beginning of January to save money for my thru-hike. Leaving Maryland, my first apartment, and a lot of my friends was sad but it has been a long time since I’ve been home for an extended period of time. So far I am thoroughly enjoying my mom’s cooking, my dad’s willingness to help me with anything, and hanging out with my sister.
I could talk about the AT to anyone, forever.
I get caught up talking to sales associates who have already thru-hiked the AT for upward of an hour when I go to REI. My friend who has gone with me on countless gear-shopping trips finds my excitement otherworldly. My excitement honestly exceeds what I thought was humanly possible. And with only 73 days until I start my thru-hike the excitement only continues to build.
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I am Pop because that is what my grandchildren call me. I lost my wife to cancer. I am excited about seeing new vistas everyday and new friends added to my life. My effort is more than a challenge but a cause. My son is my coach. He is a Ranger in the US Army. He doesn’t expect anything but me in Georgia around Turkey Day. I told him to kick my butt if I start moaning when I talk to him. I feel lucky to have a serious challenge this summer and fall. Starting life over at 70 was not my retirement plan but now I understand better living life one day at a time.
I love the Appalachian mountains.