My Reasons for Hiking the AT

Hiking the Appalachian Trail has been in the back of my mind for a long time.  There was a day this past fall when I went for a hike where everything was perfect- the leaves were beautiful, the sky was clear, my hike was invigorating.  I felt like I could stay outside for hours just absorbing the scenery around me.  I wondered to myself what it would be like to stay out for days and not go back to an apartment at the end of the day.

When I got back home, right away I started requesting library books about thru hikes on the Appalachian Trail.  As I read, those individual journeys pulled me in completely.  When I read about a hardship- the cold, hunger, loneliness- I laughed to myself as I tried to imagine going through that same thing, and if I would actually be tough enough or even truly want to withstand something like that.  As I read those books I could feel that my heart was beating faster- I was being pulled in to these journeys, and I wanted to experience all these things for myself.  Gradually I started telling family and friends, who were supportive and excited in spite of fears and worries.  Late fall and winter seemed to pass by so quickly as I spent time preparing for my goal of the spring- to hike the Appalachian Trail starting in Georgia.  At this point I have less than a month left before I begin this journey.  It seems a good idea to make a list of all the reasons I want to hike the Appalachian Trail, though I’ll never be able to capture them all.

To become immersed in nature.  To be so acutely affected by the weather, for better or worse, whether rainy, snowy, sunny, hot, cold.  To revel in the countless miracles and wonders of nature that are sometimes forgotten when it is so easy to seek physical comfort and protection.

To have to make the best of the conditions without the option of shutting a window or door and ignoring it.  To strive to embrace the hardships as they come.  (I may rue this line of thought one day, ha!  I’ll think, “That was one of my reasons for going?!”)

To experience time in a different way.  I am fascinated by the idea of spending days on end outside and actually watching the sun and clouds travel the sky day after day.  To see the seasons change before my very eyes and all around me, from spring to summer to fall.  To live not by the clock, but by the moment.

To meet new people and make new friends.

To stay connected to old friends and family.  There is something about traveling away from home for a time that brings an even deeper appreciation for home.

To go on an adventure and see a piece of the world I haven’t seen before.  I have never traveled to many of the states of the AT.

To connect.  There is something about getting outside and moving over land by my own means (bike, foot, canoe, swim) that makes me feel connected to the scenery around me.  Different times that I’ve gone on outdoor adventures, I’ve had this feeling that my entire view of the world around me was shifting.  Biking over the same road that I’ve driven many times makes me feel the land uniquely.  The world can be your playground if you can just get out and experience it.

To do something physically challenging.  There is something about a hard run or hike that just makes me feel like I’m on top of the world for a while.  I love that feeling of physically pushing yourself.

To do something different.  I want to remind myself that it is possible to follow a non-traditional life path and change things up once in a while.  I am ready and blessed to be able to take a break from a career for a while.

To have a constant,steady goal in front of me.  There is something about knowing what I’m working toward and having a clear goal of moving forward that is extremely relaxing.  Finally I can take a break from the anxieties of life decisions.

To do something worth writing about.  I’m extremely excited to try writing consistently for an “assignment” and figure out if I truly love writing.

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Comments 15

  • Barry Hudson : Mar 10th

    Great post! I can certainly relate. I start late April as a flip flopper and can’t wait to discover answers to questions that don’t yet exist. May sunshine flood your path.

    • Kim Cobb : Mar 13th

      Totally understand. Good luck to you! I start in June from Md. What size is your pack. I have a 50L but doesn’t seem big enough for all the things I want to take. Then again don’t want to take too much weight.

    • Joe : Mar 14th

      And lots of pics plz.i have always wanted to do this

    • Katie Eckman : Mar 14th

      Thanks for reading!

  • Gary Stell : Mar 10th

    Very well written! I enjoyed that very much. It’s like a glimpse into, well, you! Hope to see you out there!

    • Katie Eckman : Mar 14th

      Thanks for reading and for the kind comments!

  • ~KC : Mar 11th

    Very nice post. I think we all have, in varying degrees, the same ideas – I especially appreciate your thoughts on being outside day-after-day and not adhering to a schedule; i.e. a clock.

  • Joe Haller : Mar 13th

    Do you carry smart phone and how to recharge?

    • Katie Eckman : Mar 14th

      I will be carrying a smart phone. I think recharging will be a lot of trial and error for me- right now I’m just planning not to use my phone much at all and recharge during town stops. I may also look into an extra battery charger.

      • Roy Stengel : Apr 26th

        Katie purchase a solar power charger. Goes on the top flap of your pack and also a spare battery pack for those cloudy days. Approx one pound, but if you are on the trail alone, you should have a cell. Trek Happy and Love your stories!!

  • Thomas sheets : Mar 13th

    You should absolutely write about your AT adventures! You have a gift …. please keep all of us up to date on your progress.
    I am looking forward to spending the next 6 months or so right there on the Trail with you….if only in true adventurous spirit!


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