It’s a new year and I’m taking some risks.
This year is about taking some risks – actually it’s a lifetime worth of risks because I’m not a “risk-taker”; I like simple and routine. This isn’t to say I’m not a maverick or bold, I just play-it-safe in life, which =’s B-O-R-I-N-G. This is my first blogging post for “The Trek” and I will confess that have no idea what I am doing (and sometimes ‘why’ I am doing it). I find this foreign, complex and a little like being under-dressed in public. I am afraid of doing something irreversible so give me a wide berth before judging – eventually I hope to get into a groove.
As a 53 year old single woman and having lived between Vermont and New Hampshire almost all of my life and raised three children, the most ‘risky’ thing I’ve done is shave my head to raise awareness for cancer and kept it clipped at 1/4″ since. Otherwise, Auto Pilot has been steering my life for a millennium leaving consciousness and ambition in a rusted state.
I’ve never wanted to through hike the AT, unlike many who claim it’s been a lifelong dream, but for several months now it’s been calling to me, pulling me in. It invades my day-dreams and gives me night-mares. I caved a few months ago and decided that before I die, the inevitability of which I’ve been looking forward to lately, I will sacrifice my dreary job and comfortably numb routine to go suffer in the woods in all manner of weather and conditions while exhausting myself marching along the East coast. When I shared this with a comrade, I got the most receptive response, a shot to the heart of my problem: “Do it. You need to learn to feel again.”
The Biggest Risk: Eyeballing the Journey
I have not yet set a date, place or direction because there are too many variables in my life right now and I am trying to chose the best way to ‘hike my own hike’: i.e. what will be most comfortable for me regarding weather, start and end date and congestion vs. solitude. The reality is that it will be a learning experience no matter when or where and I really don’t believe there is a ‘right way’ to do it.
Having read Appalachian Trials and many, many posts from “The Trek” as well as various other sources of information about through hiking, I think I’ve sifted all this down to one simple observation: it doesn’t matter if you pack minimally or with ‘extra weight’ for comfort items, are ‘in-shape’ or are using the hike to get into shape, have the most tech savvy equipment or obtained everything from yard sales, have prepared every day and detail or are just going to ‘wing-it’ ~ no matter what, if the entire trail is the goal, the only thing every hiker must bring is determination.
What I’m Packing
Determination is the one item I plan to use, use and reuse again because firmly planted in my mind is the photo of Grandma Gatewood with her sack slung over her left shoulder, kerchief, sneakers and skinny walking stick – who, at 67, completed the trail. No sophisticated hammock and quilts or wicking-tech clothes or fancy cook-stove or hiking boots and no pre-boxed, mailed food packages, etc. I might resemble Grandma Gatewood but I will have a backpack, a synthetic sleeping bag, a tent and a few other accoutrements ~ if not much else. To some degree, my risk involves a little under-preparedness – not by choice but by situation and timing. I just tell myself: we are all too accustomed to modern day comfort and I’m (sort of) looking forward to finding my mettle.
A little more detail about me and my thoughts about through hiking, equipment and what I hope to achieve besides the summits at both ends of this ~2,200 mile journey.
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