After Years of Delay, I’m Right Where I Need to Be
Well, here’s my big announcement – I, Isaac Nesbitt, will be attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail starting March 26. It’s time to chase a dream and really stir up the pot called my life. I’ll be leaving behind a career, moving out of my rented house, and setting out on a hike that will hopefully end 2,200 miles later on Mount Katahdin in Maine.
I’ll be starting my hike at Amicalola State Park, at Springer Mountain in Georgia, headed northbound (NOBO) on the AT. But the real beginning started long ago.
I grew up in South Carolina with an outdoorsy family, and as I grew up we traveled around the country. These trips began in a pop-up, moved to a travel trailer, and finally a fifth wheel. A far cry from my 19-ounce tent. But these early trips, beyond letting me see lots of our beautiful country, gave the chance for my dad to take my brother and me on lots of little day hikes, and somewhere along the way I became aware of Appalachian Trail.
Hiking the AT didn’t become a lifelong obsession the second I learned about the trail—it has been hiding in the back of my brain waiting for the right moment. My true outdoor obsession was bass fishing, and I spent hundreds of days outdoors trying to catch little green fish. But I have always felt more at home and at peace while outdoors—whether fishing, hiking, landscaping, or really any activity. So it was only a matter of time before the pull of spending six months in the woods would become too strong to resist.
But hiking has always been a side hobby—sort of like climbing, Ultimate frisbee, disc golf, or a handful of other activities. But there were always day hikes—including with friends while in college. And it was while in college that the idea of thru-hiking slowly started to emerge again. I considered trying to thru-hike during the school summer, or even after graduation, but neither worked out. So with my engineering degree in hand, I took my first “real job” and jumped in head first.
Over the last couple years, while building my career, I began to hike more. Including an 80-mile, four-day adventure over Thanksgiving and an awesome trip with my best friend to hike the Presidential traverse in New Hampshire (wow, the White Mountains are a different beast). And those trips really ignited the fire to hike the granddaddy of them all—the AT.
I’m not sure when I decided that at some point I would hike the AT, but every year I kept saying to myself, “It’s not the right time.” This went on for a couple of years, and finally one day I snapped and realized it will never be the “right” time.
You see, my analytical brains sees thru-hiking like most of society: leave your job, leave your house, leave your friends and family—lose all your security just for a long walk in the woods.
Thankfully for me, I tend to make snap decisions and stick to them until the end. So when I finally got fed up with “maybe another year,” I chose 2019 and have stuck to my guns. And now it’s time for a heck of an adventure.
Now it’s crunch time, with a little more than a month before I hit the trail. I have started saying goodbyes at work—goodbye to all the great people, all the opportunity it provided me, and all the crazy stress it created at times. Plans are in place to move my stuff out and I’m finally getting excited and nervous to begin the hike.
I hope everyone can follow along with these blogs, and I promise in return to be as honest as possible—about the highs, the lows, the laughs, and the tears.
It’s going to be one hell of a journey, and I cannot wait.
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