On Being Sure

I wasn’t sure when I should start blogging about my upcoming adventure on the Appalachian Trail. I don’t know how long it will take, what pack I will bring, or even what exact date I will start. I don’t know when I got the idea in my head to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. I don’t have an inspirational memory of the first time I heard about these strange creatures called thru hikers. I didn’t know anyone personally that has hiked even a portion of it, let alone the whole darn thing…or so I thought.

One of the biggest reservations I had about taking this on was telling my family. I imagined rolling eyes and snickers. Maybe a secret bet on when I’d come running home.

The first person I had to tell was my significant other, obviously. Well, I didn’t have to tell him as much as agree to the latest version of our immediate life plans. We were moving to Syracuse…then Phoenix…now we aren’t sure (but maybe Colorado!). With him wanting to go to school it didn’t make sense to finance a cross-country move and then have to leave for school for months. I’ve been wanting to do some long distance hiking for a while and this coming spring seemed like the perfect time. I get to hike, he gets to go to school, then we get to move.

Next up was Mom. This was a little trickier. My SO and I live with her, so this involved talking about staying longer (a little over a year longer to be exact) and about half a year of me not being around (unlike my stuff). This went exactly as I expected. Staying is fine. The stuff is fine, so long as it’s contained to one room. What isn’t fine is my deciding to hike without a partner.

Note: Anyone who has researched the AT at all knows it is impossible to truly hike it “alone”. With roughly 2,000 other people starting from the same point, within a few weeks of each other, walking the same direction, on the same path, it is difficult not to fall into a group of some sort, even if it isn’t permanent. At the very extreme least, you’ll repeatedly pass (or be passed by) one of the many day, section, or thru hikers going in either direction.

Telling the rest of the family was easier since their reactions wouldn’t affect my everyday life. Most people sounded excited and wished me luck on my upcoming adventure. My brother-in-law told me about hiking Katahdin (who knew?) and my SO’s soon to be brother-in-law told me he did a week-long section once…and also that he used a dirty sock to wash his mug. My father keeps asking if there is a way to “low jack” me so he can see where I am all there time. Some expressed their concern about me hiking “alone” (surprise). Some repeatedly express that concern every time I see them. I’m still working on easing their nerves.

So now, the planning begins. I’ve been reading, buying gear, and hiking. Talking to anyone who will listen. Getting to know the employees at the (not so) local REI stores a little too well. I even took a job at the gym so I have extra motivation to get and stay fit over the next half a year. And finally, planning my first real camping trip in years! Phil (the bf) and I will be going out for a little 3 day hike next weekend. We will probably be doing a small section of the AT in NY…but I’m not sure yet. The only thing I am sure of is that I am hiking the entire Appalachian Trail this spring.

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