My Mental Preparation for the AT

I went for a short 3 mile hike at the local state park today with a rambunctious 8-month-old puppy named Roxy (trail name: Spitfire), with my fully weighted pack and it felt great! This hike served two purposes: (1) I think it’s the best way to train, and (2) I wanted to wear the pup out so she wouldn’t chew everything up in the house while I was out gear shopping. While I was out there today I was giving a lot of thought to what the next year will have in store for me and figured it would be a good time to review my 3 “why am I hiking” lists and share them with you:

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…

  • life it too short and I want to live it to the fullest.
  • I love hiking and being outdoors.
  • it has been on my bucket list for many years and I’m at a really good point in life to hit the Trail.
  • I have a lot of dreams (i.e., big wave surfer, foreign dignitary, etc.) most of which are highly unlikely to ever become reality, but this one I can actually
  • I want to shed all this cargo and have a better appreciation for the simple things.
  • I’m tired of being a slave to the screen. I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but sitting on your tush and staring at a computer all day can’t be healthy.
  • I love a challenge and it doesn’t get much more epic than this.
  • this will give me time to figure out what it is I want to do in life.

When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will…

  • feel like such a badass.
  • be in awesome physical condition.
  • have learned a lot about myself and what I can endure.
  • have a new focus on what is important.
  • have met some amazing people.
  • want to eat lobster in Maine.
  • be heading to the tattoo shop to get my AT markings.
  • party for a week straight when I return home.
  • probably attempt a full marathon because I won’t know what to do without all the weight on my back.

If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…

  • have missed out on a great opportunity to show myself what I can accomplish if I give it my all.
  • not have allowed myself the time to figure out my future direction.
  • have spent a very large sum of money on unnecessary gear.
  • have to start looking for a new job, apartment, car; all of which I had great ones that I gave up to complete the Trail.

I have a feeling when I’m out there I’ll probably come up with a million reasons to quit, but these are the reasons worth going through the hard times for. I highly suggest everyone who plans to do a thru-hike write out their own lists – I know for me it’s going to be a lifesaver. I printed the PDF versions available on this website: Now if I can only get better at meditation!

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