My ‘why:’ I am hiking this trail & not quitting
As I sit here writing this post I have a strong cup of coffee on my coffee table, it is lightly snowing outside, a cat sleeping next to me, and my Thru-Hike Planner from ATC in front of me. I wrote my last blog entry a month ago, which unveiled all my nerves and excitement for setting out on this trek in the spring. Since then: I have picked a start date, highlighted some key mail drop spots that I think will be helpful, ran a half-marathon (WHHAT, yeah I did), read through Appalachian Trials (it is just so good– thanks Zach!) for a second time, negotiated the possibility of returning to my *new* job after the trail,
stole generously accepted more granola bars, read countless blog posts and followed most of the SOBO hikers on Instagram, and I have stared at my backpack for who knows how long.
Needless to say, I am making progress.
I am still so behind on where I think I need to be strategically at this point, but then again there is no set way to plan for this. So I am trying to just remain calm and trust that with patience, gratitude, and my stubbornness, I will be okay come the spring.
In Appalachian Trials, Zach invites his readers to make three lists: “I am Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail because,” “When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I will…,” and “If I give up on the Appalachian Trail, I will…” Well, Zach, I am going to tackle those lists right now. Let’s emotionally and mentally prepare for this hike!
I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…
- I have told myself that I will do this, I have made a promise to myself.
- I need some serious one-on-one time with God, walking in the wilderness–the garden–will give me that time.
- I want to be with and serve the hiking community. I want to meet interesting people and share in this life changing event with them.
- I want to see the beauty of the mountains, and I want to earn every view.
- I have talked about this for five years to everyone I can think of–now is the time to do it!
- I am young, mighty, strong, and capable.
- I am ready to fall in love with myself and God again.
- I want to challenge and strengthen my mental, emotional, and physical being.
- I want to experience the thrilling nature of a thru-hike. (pun intended)
- God has placed it on my heart and in my head, and I can’t ignore it.
When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I will…
- Feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and gratitude.
- Be able to say my body carried me 2,189 miles from Georgia to Maine.
- Smile every time I hear the trail mentioned.
- Have a clearer mindset and heart with regards to my relationship with God.
- Become closer with my two hiking pals, forming an endless bond.
- Encourage others to grab a pack and head out as well, even if it is just for a day-hike.
- Appreciate creation and the creator more than I do now.
- Gain a tremendous repertoire of random-ass knowledge for future trivia nights.
- Feel strong.
- Find a new part of myself.
If I give up on the Appalachian Trail, I will…
- Regret it.
- Doubt myself.
- Disappoint myself and those excited for me.
- Miss out on a beautiful opportunity to challenge myself and explore who God created me to be.
- Fulfill all those negative and self-deprecating thoughts I store in my mind.
- Give up on a dream that I have had for 5 years.
- Feel incomplete.
- Have wasted the energy and resources that I cobbled together to make this happen.
- Be a quitter.
- Feel shame.
Just looking at these lists, I feel calm about the trail. I have done pretty much everything I have ever set my mind/heart to do, and this hike is no different. Getting caught up in the need to be someone or do something a certain way is my greatest obstacle.
I love the mantras offered in Zach’s book and through the trail “Hike Your Own Hike,” “Trust the process,” and the like, but I am going to set a goal for myself to develop my own mantra–one that is for me, to push me further and to live into the experience.
When I was training for the half-marathon, people asked me my goal time for the race… my response was this: “I have three goals: 1) finish the race 2) not to have a mental breakdown midway through the run and 3) not be picked up by the sweeper van. I don’t care if I have to crawl over that finish line… I will finish.” I finished that race. I had a minor/internal/no one really noticed breakdown at mile 7. And I was not picked up by the sweeper van.
I can hike this trail. One step at a time. One cold rainy day at a time. One beautiful and breathtaking view at a time.
I will hike this hike and I will stand on Katahdin with a huge smile on my face and know that I am capable to do anything.
Now, I need to print out these lists and put them on my mirror and remind myself that I WILL HIKE THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL.
In Peace, friends.
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