I Walked 1,000 Miles: An Open Letter To The Proclaimers

Dear Charlie and Craig,

In March 2017 I set out to hike as much of the Appalachian Trail as I possibly could. I quickly realized this meant accomplishing something you two so fervently and popularly sing about: walking 1,000 miles.

In this disorganized, long ass section hike, I finally find myself having stepped over 500 miles of Appalachian Trail – and then 500 more. In a blur of sheer mountainous beauty, I have ended up in New Hampshire voyaging on with large calves and a sailed heart. Now that I’ve walked 1,000 miles, I’ve got a few thoughts I’d like to share with you.

I’ve Learned Many Lessons Over These Thousand Miles,

which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. How to survive a thunder and lightning storm with no shelter
  2. The importance of a 4,000 calorie diet
  3. How to make friends in 10 seconds
  4. That bad days only last as long as you let them
  5. That nothing is waterproof

Admittedly, my list of lessons could go on for 500 pages. This immersive experience is so much more expansive than anyone could imagine.

Most Importantly? I Learned I Would Never Freaking Do This For Someone Else.

Maybe walking 1,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail isn’t what you had in mind when you wrote the song, but the challenges and speed bumps that assault you when walking that far are almost innumerable. I have faced problems that seemed unfixable, climbed mountains that seemed impossible, and forded rivers that seemed uncrossable. But regardless of the challenge, I overcame them. Because I had to. Because I was doing this for myself. 

Sure, I’ll admit it: my first 500 miles were walked for someone else. I was hiking to prove to every ex that I’m a sexy bad ass they never should have left. I was hiking to keep up with someone who wanted to spend his life with me. I was hiking to lose weight, gain muscle, prove that I can be awesome.

After several trips on and off trail I realized I wasn’t purely happy when I was doing those things. It took a lot of patience and bravery to recognize that.

Call It A Selfish Journey, But I Call It Healing.

Spur and I were talking at length about how people get hurt and then never let themselves fully heal. The healing process is so incredibly important if you want to move on. To have the strength and cognizance to recognize your own shortcomings, faults, or pain takes patience and time. Out here? That is literally all you’ve got. Every day is full of at least 8 hours of thinking time. 

I wasn’t expecting to find myself so broken in March. But over the past 2-7 years, I’d transformed into a raging mess, the eye of a storm. I showed up on the AT’s doorstep hurting but ready to change.

This hike has been my own rehab. I spent the money on gear and provisions and I came out here to heal myself. Whether you knew it or not, I was on the edge, and if it wasn’t evident in my scars it was surely evident in my poor choices, constant need for partners, and excessive drinking.

Deep down I knew I didn’t come out here to be better for someone or to show the world how awesome I am. I came out here to prove to myself that I can climb mountains, no matter how big or metaphorical they might be. These miles are being walked so that I can become bigger than myself.

These Are Your Feet.

Claiming ownership over your walk is one of the most important things you can do out here. It’s the ticket to success, the piece of mental gear that will get you up and over any impossibility. If you want to complete this trail, you will.

Will you make friends along the way? Of course! And these friends are some of the best you will make in your entire life. They are the people who will get you through the rough days, encourage you to keep going, and keep you company at night. They will make this ever changing world feel like your true home.

But the second you start hiking against someone else, the journey loses its pallor. Every step that I’ve taken to prove someone else wrong has been heavy and exhausting. There is a difference between walking alongside the power of previous hikers and strong people, alive or dead, and walking to prove something to someone else.

I walked the most difficult 10 miles of my life yesterday, and they weren’t so because I was walking away from something or someone I loved. They were the most difficult because I was finally walking towards something better.

This journey is what you make it. Ultimately it’s up to you. But, my friends, I am truly enamored by the sheer determination and independence I’ve seen in hikers out here. And if they’re hiking for someone else, it’s a charity or a lost loved one, and man, they’re hiking with the power of love, which is an even more amazing feat. 

So with that? I’ve got a hell of a journey ahead of me with another 1,200 miles to hike, but I’m going to hike those with fervor and bravery. There will not be a man or a woman waiting for me at the end. I will not fall down at anyone’s door.

I Am Lil Wayne, Hear Me Roar.

See you on the other side, and as always, FLY ON!

Lil Wayne.

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Comments 5

  • Avatar
    Kamakazee : Sep 19th

    Since when did hiking the AT, PCT, or any other trail become a contest of whom goes the fastest, furthest, lightest, unsupported/supported. Where has the joy in just getting out, walking/hiking and enjoying nature gone? I don’t really care if you used a jet pack to skim over the trail in X amount of days. We’ve taken the true fun and enjoyment out of hiking and turned it into an ironman sport. When I used to hike in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains I felt free and alive enjoying nature and seeing things I never saw before. I wasn’t on a speed march, did enough of those in the Army. Sorry but I’m just not impressed by the mostest or fastest.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Therese Masotta : Sep 19th

      And it’s definitely all about finding out what makes you happiest! To be honest, most people who are actually out in the woods (and not on the internet) are on the exact same page as you, they just don’t have the means to share it! I hope you noticed it in the post, but going out into nature and hiking has brought huge solace and joy to my life, a joy that previously didn’t exist. I’m glad the Rocky’s made you feel that way, I’m hoping to get out there myself and see the Colorado sun rise. It must be epic out there!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Ruth Nasrullah : Sep 20th

    Awesome post. I made a list of reasons why I’m doing my (NOBO departing Springer 2/26/18) thru-hike and then scratched off all the ones that related to pleasing or annoying or generally proving something to other people. It’s tough! If one of my reasons is “I want to be a badass,” that could either mean I want to impress others or I want to improve my self-esteem.

    Re competitions for fastest known time – I’m torn about that issue. If we all have our own motivations and hike our own hike, should we judge others whose goal in their thru-hike is to do it as fast as possible? If they’re not impeding on others’ experiences, breaking no laws, and are following Leave No Trace, don’t they have the right to go as fast as they can for whatever reason they want to?

    Reply
  • Avatar
    AT Gracie : Sep 22nd

    Hi Lil’ Wayne! I met you in Rangeley, Maine when I offered you and a couple other hikers a ride out of town and back to the trailhead. So happy I got the chance to meet you!!!
    Wishing you all the very best!

    AT Gracie

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Scott Hughes : Sep 22nd

    What a great post. You really opened my eyes as to the main reason I want to attempt my 2018 thruhike. I really need to focus on hiking to please myself instead of trying to prove something to someone else. Especially someone who isn’t even alive any more. Thank you and best of luck to you on the rest of your hike.

    Reply

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