Motivation Plus Inspiration Does Not Equal Pickleball
I’m George and I’m excited to share my big 2023 Appalachian Trail adventure with anyone interested in reading. I’m 55 years old and live in Holly Springs, NC. I don’t have any thru-hiking experience and not all that much backpacking experience either. I’m three and a half months out and still don’t own half the equipment I’m going to need for this hike. I readily admit that while I’m going into this huge challenge full of hope, I’m also feeling a healthy dose of fear and trepidation.
In this first blog I want to explain, maybe “figure-out” would be more accurate, my motivation to tackle the AT as a thru-hike. But I’m already struggling to put this entry together as I write, delete, write and delete some more. I’m finding my attempt to verbalize why I’m spending so much money on equipment and heading into the woods for half a year is causing frustration and a bit of deep introspection that is surprisingly uncomfortable. Perhaps I can’t explain why I want to take this hike because I naturally claimed above that I was “motivated” to do it, and now I’m trying to create a reason around the word motivated…? Maybe I’m only part motivated to do this and mostly inspired?
It’s How Long?!?!
The motivation, I think, is pretty basic. Many years back I worked with a woman who told me her husband and son were out hiking the Appalachian Trail for the summer. Now being from North Carolina I had heard of the trail at some point or another, but knew absolutely nothing about it. I asked her why it was going to take them so long, and was fascinated as she told me of the length and some other details I’ve dreamed about ever since. For some unexplained reason that conversation alone was enough to spark in me a curiosity that led to years of reading books, magazine articles, blogs and eventually YouTube videos about the trail. I even began to proudly tell people I’d thru-hike the AT myself someday for sure.
Jump shots and Jump a Peg
I’m described by lots people as being pretty stubborn. Once I get a notion going in my head it’s hard to shake. I don’t give up easily when faced with a challenge. And I don’t necessarily say that as a positive. I mean, I’m not trying to solve world hunger here! It’s more like I’m out to eat at the Cracker Barrel and everyone around me has finished and is ready to leave, but I’m holding them all up trying to solve the jump a peg game with the golf tees. If I shoot a wad of paper at a trash can from across a room and miss, I’ll just keep doing it all day long until I drain the J and proclaim “Kobe!” And worst example of all, I’m naturally pretty trash at tech stuff, but I’ll go down those rabbit holes for days to figure out how to, ahem, “master” a Garmin hiking watch. But hopefully that single-minded and selfish focus will serve me well in the many tough circumstances I anticipate during this hike.
But problem solving can’t be what this adventure is really all about. Otherwise I’d just take up pickleball or learn the guitar or something less uncomfortable than hiking in cold and heat, rain and pain. No, I’ve been telling people I’d do this hike for over 15 years now. Back then a co-worker named Chris, who has now become more like a big brother, invited me on a long weekend camping trip. I had no outdoors experience at all but he had it rather extensively. I’ll save some of that story for a future blog, but despite carrying a 40lb pack and getting lost a few times I quickly realized the positive effects that hiking and camping had on me. I loved the combination of physicality, work ethic, and honestly even the suffering necessary to get from point A to point B. And stripping down food, water, and shelter to a much more basic level than it is in my normal existence felt cleansing. But best of all was walking for hours staring at the rock-strewn trail, surrounded by tunnels of lush vegetation such as Rhododendrons, and then suddenly arriving in a spot with a stunning and breathtaking view of peaks and valleys for as far as the eye could see. It just felt so, well, inspiring! That long ago trip cemented the decision to commit to my thru-hiking proclamation, that someday I’d do it… and that someday is now.
So why now? Because the stars have aligned- that’s why. And I’ll aim to put that story up-front and center in my next blog.
So there’s a little bit about me… hopefully enough to tease you into following along. Until next time- ciao!
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.