Reasons and Answers

In my last post, I may have been a little misleading. Everything is true (well, the conversation in the beginning may have been a little exaggerated for artistic license, ya know), but I just wanted to make it clear that my boyfriend is completely supportive of my endeavor. He just doesn’t understand why I would want to spend six months straight in the woods, digging cat holes and hanging my food in trees.

But that’s okay. He doesn’t have to understand. And neither do you, my family, friends, or unfortunate stranger who has stumbled across this blog (I’m sorry. I’m very sorry).

(To that unfortunate stranger who stumbled across this – you can hang around! Hey, let’s not be strangers!)

I merely glossed over many of the reasons as to why I want to hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety. I have repeated these to my parents, my friends, the kind folks back home, to my boss, to the sweet barista at Starbucks (if you’re reading this – hi and thanks for the free drink, you know exactly what I love). And every time I tell them, my reasons change.

My list is based on the suggested exercise from Zach “Badger” Davis in his book, Appalachian Trials – seriously, go read it! His sense of humor and writing style had me right there beside him.

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…..

  1. I am having a quarter-life crisis.
    1. Just kidding. Kind of. I had always been in school from when I was a tiny little thing (my mom used to be a teacher). My family always emphasized doing well academically and that meant, to me, I had to be the best I could possibly be, be better than other people, and go as far as I could (PhD? Postdoc? Vet school?). How untrue this was. I graduated high school and immediately started college. Even with switching majors, working multiple jobs, participating in student organizations, and joining a sorority, I managed to graduate with a decent GPA. After a brief internship in North Carolina, I was back for graduate school as part of a grant program. I assumed I would be in school for at least eight more years. After walking away, I decided not to pursue a PhD and that my schooling would end with my Master’s. Now that my Master’s has been obtained (almost – I’m only an hour’s presentation away from my degree!) – what do I do?
  2. The hike will be a pinnacle of my journey.
    1. I have learned a lot in the past thirteen months. I was always eager to please, reluctant to disagree, and almost never said no. After I walked away from the program, I realized how much stress I had put myself through. What if I had just said no to the program? In these thirteen months I have learned that it’s okay to cut people loose, to be a little selfish, to speak up, and to stand up for myself.
  3. I need to.
    1. I don’t even know how to explain this. I have a crazy need to get out there, throw a pack on, and walk.

When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I will…

  1. Know that I have the tools and the ability to overcome 2,200 obstacles.
  2. Appreciate the simple comforts of daily life – running water, electricity, flushing toilets (and not privies with snakes in them).
  3. Be able to move on.

If I give up on the Appalachian Trail, I will…

  1. Take it hard, but know that I will return.
  2. Have a lot of explaining to do to family, friends, and strangers.
  3. Consider my mission incomplete.

Zach’s questions were really helpful in disassembling my strange urge to willingly live outdoors for several months.

To my family, friends, and fans (including that kind Starbucks barista and the unfortunate stranger if you’re still hanging around) – I know these will at least help you begin to answer your questions for me.

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Comments 2

  • Keith : Jul 29th

    I love your philosophy on taking control of your life and living it up. We’ve been in school as long our memory has served us. We need to take a hiatus in between school and a full time career to further discover ourselves. Good luck Gina!

  • Ram Sham : Jan 25th

    Gina –

    I want to make some comments to your paragraph:

    “If I give up on the Appalachian Trail, I will…
    1. Take it hard, but know that I will return.
    2. Have a lot of explaining to do to family, friends, and strangers.
    3. Consider my mission incomplete.”

    There is always Plan B, C, D and etc… it was with me (RamSham) and Ad-Cane. It is ok to be disappointed and take it hard, but pls look at this way… gives you an opportunity to go back to the drawing board to adjust some strategies. Hell, Ad-Cane and I had our share of “failure series” on and off the AT between 2008 and 2014. With each failure, we step back, talk about it, learn from it, figure out other way, get over with our disappointment, and move on. Our determination, strong-willingness and toughness kept us going rather than quitting from the AT for good. It helped us to become better person to handle “failures” and being patient with our goals/desires.

    A lot of explaining about your “failure” – when Ad-Cane and I had to cease our hiking on the AT, we explained what happened, what we had learned, and we will be back each time. Look at this way…..only true and biggest failure is if you do not take first step to hike on the AT – this will need “A LOT” of explanation! 😉

    Cannot wait for you to take your first step in March and earn your Trail Name! Happy Trails!

    Ram Sham


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