Reminiscing for Motivation

Nifty picture of my guide book

I woke up this morning and laid in my bed for about an hour before I was forced to get up and get ready for class. When I first woke up, I looked on my desk next to my bed an saw my Appalachian Trail Guide Book. Which then got me thinking about why am I going to thru-hike? Why am I going to put everything in my life on hold for so long? Why am I so eager to put my body through the most rigorous 3 months it may ever face? Why do I want to isolate myself from the “real world” so I can go and walk through woods? So many thoughts running through my mind.
I think back to last summer when I was a LASH and try to remember every single feeling I had and the reasons for them.

I remember the first step I took when I got on trail.
I was practically emotionless. I wasn’t excited, scared, sad, anything! It was as if I wasn’t in my body and I was watching and observing myself start this crazy journey. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

View from the bench

View from the bench!

I remember the first time I found a bench!
You don’t know the magical feeling of walking upon a bench in the middle of the woods until you have been hiking for days on end and haven’t sat in a chair with a back rest in just as long! The time I am thinking about specifically was probably my 3rd or 4th day out. I had just hiked up a huge mountain and had already taken 4 or 5 breaks in the span of an hour because I was SO out of shape. I remember seeing something in the distance and was a little freaked out, unsure of what I was about to walk up to. I soon realized it was just a bench and I was thinking to myself “What the hell is a bench doing in the middle of the woods?” but I was nowhere near complaining. It was just another excuse for me to take a break and maintain the ridiculous chaffing on my legs!

I remember the first time I hiked in the rain.
Prior to getting on trail, I made a promise to myself that regardless what I was feeling, I had a minimum of 2 weeks before I could “quit”. It is the day after my 2 week mark and I am at one of my lowest points on trail. I remember thinking to myself “Why the hell am I even out here?” “I could literally quit right now” and so many other ridiculous thoughts were going through my head. The next moment it started POURING the rain. I quickly stopped, got my pack cover and rain jacket, and continued hiking. I remember stomping the puddles as hard as I could. I was basically having a temper tantrum. I then took my hood of and let my hair get soaked because at that moment, I had no cares to give. Then, I take my entire rain jacket off and I am getting drenched from head to toe!
The strangest thing happened next: I start smiling! I am smiling so hard my cheeks start to hurt! I am now dancing around in the rain, playing in the puddles, and laughing so hard! It was as if the rain was my shower and washed all of the negative energy out of my heart that I had held onto for so long. It was in this moment I knew there was no way I am going to give up.

Hawk, Bubbles, Zeta (me), Waldo

Hawk, Bubbles, Zeta (me), Waldo

I remember my last day on trail.
My friends and I had spent all day in Boiling Springs hanging out and jumping in the spring, eating pizza, and reminiscing. We were about to hike the flattest stretch along the entire AT. I remember purposefully taking my time hiking that 12 mile stretch, as I took in the last moments of my 2 month journey. I remember jamming out to some Elvis Presley. I remember stopping for lunch and having a conversation with a local about the farming in the area. I remember seeing my first mole. I remember walking up to the campsite seeing so many of the people that I had met along the way there hanging out. I remember setting up my hammock for the last time. And I especially remember waking up and saying all of my good bye’s to the people I had grown so close to over the last few months. It was a feeling I cannot describe. For the past two months I had been in the mindset that I was a thru-hiker because those were the only people I was surrounded by. But this was the end of my journey (for this year anyway). It was a bittersweet moment. I was incredibly grateful for the memories I made and the people I made relationships with, yet so very sad to leave all of it behind. You could even say I was a bit envious because I had to get off trail while everyone else was only half-way through their journey.

I snap back to the present with a realization.
I don’t know that I could ever give just one reason as to why I am going to thru-hike this year. There are too many. It is because of those random benches in the woods. It’s for the times when you’re feeling so down that mother nature decides to slap you in the face. It’s for the ridiculous challenge my body and mind are going to feel. It’s for all  of the incredible magic the trail has to offer. It’s for the utter appreciation you learn to have for everything you carry on your back. It’s because somewhere deep in my soul, I know this is the year my feet are going to take me all the way from Georgia to Maine.
And that is the greatest reason I could ever give.
Trail on a hill

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