We are now at less than one month until we start our flip-flop thru hike. Reality is starting to set in. We alternate from being incredibly excited to queasy with nervousness.
We think of exhilarating things like meeting wonderful people, seeing gorgeous scenery, and eating our body weight in pizza. But then we think of the terrifying things like what happens if either of us gets sick or hurt, how will we cope with adversity, and what will we do if we just flat out hate hiking day after day?
It is in moments like the latter we have to refer to our why.
When Jennifer Pharr Davis Comes Around
Before we start with what motivates us to complete the trail, a quick summary of what gave us the crazy idea in the first place. When my husband and I were dating we talked about how amazing it would be to thru-hike the AT, but we never took the thought seriously. Three years later Jennifer Pharr Davis came and spoke at our chapel service. I was in awe. Her story was so invigorating that I couldn’t get the idea of this adventure out of my head.
Fast forward a few years. She came to talk at our college for a second time. I went on to read her books and eventually research more about the trail. It was a few months later that I woke up in the middle of the night and had the clear thought – “We are going to hike the Appalachian Trail.”
I know, sounds dramatic. But it happened.
Now, on to our why. If you are reading this post you are likely interested in the great outdoors and fascinated with the idea of doing something crazy, like taking a 2,000-mile hike through the wilderness. Therefore, I do not need to waste time telling you the understood why. But here is our individual reasoning.
To put it simply, I want to experience God, creation, and people in new and powerful ways. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life I forgot to stop, reflect, and appreciate.
I want to experience that with enough prayer, determination, and grit this thru-hike can be accomplished (and maybe even enjoyed). It will definitely be a humbling experience.
“After reflecting for a month on why I want to hike the trail, I finally think I have it in words. It came to me when I saw a hawk fly over me carrying a small snake. I have never seen that before so I stopped to watch. From my amazement came a smile I struggled to hide. What a gift to see something so simple and beautiful at the same time. That is when it hit me. I want to see nature in its raw form. I’m tired of homework and deadlines and the busyness of the day. I want to be silent. I want to stop for a moment and listen to the breeze. I want to see, truly see and experience, God’s animals and wilderness.
This journey will be spiritual for me in many ways that I still don’t fully understand, but I think I’ll figure that out after I start walking. There are countless other things I’m excited about. The soreness of hard work, being with my wife, sleeping in a tent, having the accomplishment of the AT under my belt (because I will definitely need a belt), meeting people with different faiths and passions are just a few to name. However, what excites me most is what I will see spiritually by getting away from the hustle and bustle side of America. What will God teach me about myself and my relationship with Anna (my wife)? What is my purpose in the world? What really matters?
It should be fun. I hope to see you at least at Trail Days 2019.
God bless your journey.
As Moose said, we want to discover further what our specific purpose in this life is and how to live that out. With five million steps ahead of us we might just catch a glimpse into what that purpose is.
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