From Red Rock to the Green Tunnel: An Introduction
I honestly don’t remember where I got the crazy idea to hike the AT. I live in Utah, a state full of breathtaking weekend trips, day hikes, and people who consider themselves avid hikers but have never heard of a thru hike.
Like these people, I knew nothing about the AT—until I stumbled upon it while surfing the interwebs in the midst of a breakup. Perhaps because I was particularly emotionally vulnerable, I was super intrigued. I thought to myself, “I would love to do the whole thing! It can’t take more than a few weeks, right?” That thought was quickly replaced by embarrassment and humility when I learned the trail extended from Maine to Georgia and would take me four to six months to complete. Not to be daunted, I decided I was going to conquer this S.O.B.
It was January 2013, and I was finishing up my last semester of law school at Brigham Young University, which means I was watching an awful lot of Netflix and eating pizza in my bed while my desk gathered dust and tiny fliers from various clubs—let’s be real. I already had a one-year contract to work for a judge after graduation, so I knew I would not be able to hit the trail until July 2014. Meanwhile, I sat back and enjoyed the ride that was 2013. This ride got really interesting when, after graduating from law school, I went straight to the police academy.
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would go through the police academy. (In fact, if not for creative government budgeting that combined my law-clerk job with a bailiff job, I never would have.) I only run when I’m being chased, and before last year, I would have rather shaved my head with a cheese grater than allowed a group of scary sergeants to shame me by reading the nutrition facts of my M&Ms out loud to the class at lunch, yell at me while I did endless pushups and burpees, and make me drag a 180-pound dummy across a gymnasium while crying like a child. But you know what? I did it. And after crying my fair share of tears (despite the sergeants yelling, “No crying! No crying!”) and finishing off the experience with a good ol’ pepper spray to the face, I can tell you the physical challenges were no match for the mental.
I don’t know if I will ever be truly ready for my thru-hike, but I couldn’t have asked for a better crash course in mental resilience. The police academy taught me both humility and confidence—I hope my hike will do the same. So here goes nothing! July 15 is fast approaching (although not soon enough), and I am chomping at the bit for my chance to hit the trail.
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