Meet Paw Patrol: Embarking on a Journey of Self-Discovery & Wilderness Exploration

Let me start by way of a very brief intro! I’m Kevin, a.k.a. “Paw Patrol,” an experienced hiker, long in the tooth, who’s still chasing the Appalachian Trail dream. Like me, you might be gearing up for a Spring trek, having meticulously researched and gathered your gear, reread Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods,” and possibly even rehearsed your harmonica skills for those campfire sing-alongs. 

Or perhaps you’re still contemplating the trail, reading these posts to envision yourself trading your couch for the wilderness trail to Katahdin. Regardless, you’re in good company. Many folks are wrestling with the decision to step away from their routine lives for months, swapping it for a symphony of hiking, sleeping, eating, and, let’s be honest, pooping in the woods.

A Late-Blooming Passion for Wilderness Adventures

Paw Patrol and his partner, Michelle, during a shakedown hike on the Appalachian Trail near Duncannon, PA

Paw Patrol and his partner, Michelle, during a shakedown hike near Duncannon, PA

The bug for wilderness adventuring didn’t bite me until later in life, and when it did, it bit hard. I fondly recall the transformative experience of relocating my family deep into the heart of the Rockies, where the majestic mountains of Colorado and the vast deserts of Utah became our playground.

Unfortunately, life’s twists and turns eventually conspired against my Rocky Mountain dream and forced me to move to the Philadelphia region. While it took some time to adjust, I gradually developed a deep appreciation for the enchanting forests of Appalachia, finding myself drawn back to the AT time and again.

Stars Aligning for an Appalachian Trail Adventure

Now, semi-retired and enjoying the flexibility of a part-time job at an outfitter where I have access to gear and insider knowledge, the stars have aligned, finally allowing me to embark on this long-awaited communion with nature.

The Alluring Call of the Appalachian Trail  

A very nice shelter in southern Pennsylvania

A very nice shelter in southern Pennsylvania

So, why tackle the Appalachian Trail, Paw Patrol? For me, this long walk through the Green Tunnel represents a dream years in the making. I’m drawn to the challenge, the sense of accomplishment, and the prospect of achieving inner peace during this months-long moving meditation. I am also eager to build a collection of memories, and possibly relationships, that will last a lifetime.

Motivational Drivers for the Appalachian Trail Journey

My Appalachian Trail adventure is deeply rooted in the desire to:

  • Push myself beyond my perceived limits and reignite the sense of accomplishment that I felt earlier in life.
  • Remind myself of my capabilities and rediscover the strength that lies within.
  • Disengage from the relentless grip of technology and reconnect with nature’s tranquility, seeking solace in the daily rhythm of the trail.
  • Support my own mental well-being and the important work of Hike for Mental Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting those with mental illness and promoting responsible trail use.

For me, hiking the AT is not about running away or seeking new beginnings. Leaving loved ones behind for an extended period will be challenging, and a sense of guilt for undertaking this personal journey will be carried along with my backpack. However, I firmly believe that the experiences gained from this adventure will enrich not only my life but also the lives of those I hold dear.

Join Paw Patrol on the Appalachian Trail Journey

As I embark on this transformative journey, I invite you to follow along with me. I’ll be sharing insights, experiences, and a touch of humor along the way. Together, let’s celebrate the power of the trail and the resilience of the human spirit.

Happy trails!

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Comments 6

  • Leo Walker : Dec 2nd

    Thank you for making HIKE for Mental Health a part of your adventure!

    • Paw Patrol : Dec 3rd

      It’s my pleasure. HIKE for Mental Health is a great cause. I hope, if nothing else, I can raise awareness for the org in the hiking community.

  • Alan : Dec 3rd

    I caught the same bug as you. I’m 44 and attempting a calendar year triple crown with zero assistance. Beginning with the APT on New years day. The mental portion will never stop me, just hoping my knees hold up. It’s 22 years in the making for me. I was supposed to do this after I graduated college, but life got in the way as it happens to do. Anyways good luck, im rooting for you, hope March treats you well.

    • Paw Patrol : Dec 3rd

      Good luck with the single year Triple, that’s quite an accomplishment. Take care of those knees and put your years of wisdom to good use. Happy Trails!

  • Trail Magic : Dec 23rd

    Welcome to the AT thruhiker community! Duncannon is right in our backyard…good section of trail to do shake down hikes!

    • Paw Patrol : Dec 24th

      Thank you, @Trail Magic. That climb out of Duncannon to Clark’s Ferry shelter was a rude awakening to PA rocks after the ambling farmlands between Boiling Springs and Duncannon. Still, it was a lot of fun, even with the rattle snakes!


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