So…. Why Are You Doing This?

The mountains are calling, and I must go..” ~John Muir (1839-1914)

Yeah that’s all good and well John. But seriously, why do hundreds of people drop their lives on a whim just to get a shot at saying that they’ve went on a 2,000 mile walk? Why do I feel like I need to do this? Am I nuts? Did the mountains literally call you, and if so can I get their number so I can just ask them myself if they’re sure that it’s me they want? Is it toll free? JOHN help me out here man! The people need answers and I don’t know what to give them!

I joke I joke, and all due respect to Mr. Muir. His letters, essays, and books have left a mark on the adventurous heart. Not to mention, his activism in conservation helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park, among other wilderness areas. Oh and he created a little group called… what was it again? Oh yeah. The Sierra Club! To this day they protect millions of acres of beautiful U.S wilderness, and are the country’s most influential environmental organization. John Muir was an absolute legend, may he rest in peace.

So where does that leave the starry-eyed wanderer inspired by Muir, who’s to step foot on Springer Mountain in Georgia in less than a month with the ultimate goal of summating Katahdin in Maine roughly half a year later? That’s assuming I adapt to the soreness, the heat, the cold, the rain, the snow, the showerlessness (add that to Webster’s), the pooping in the woods, the imminent threat of ticks carrying Lyme disease, the black bears/mountain lions, and the constant feeling that at any moment I could be the star of a Deliverance sequel (“was that a banjo..?”)!

I’ve been planning this expedition for about a year, and I made a conscious effort to not let it leak to my job until my leaving date was in sight. I did this mostly because I didn’t know how they would react. Actually I had a feeling the response would be a list of questions, similar to the ones I had been getting from my family and friends, and then “Kyle you’re fired” in my boss’ best Trump voice. In reality, once they found out my plan the week before I planned to tell them (thanks Facebook), they couldn’t have been more supportive! I did still get the classic (“so you’re sure about this?”) response. Hearing this question so many times can make a guy question his motives. That’s why I’m glad I grabbed a copy of Appalachian Trials and discovered the lists!

In Zach’s book, he flat out tells you that you’ll want to quit at one point or another. It’s in these moments that you’ll want to consult your lists to snap back into it and realize why you ditched society’s idea of “normal” in the first place! My lists are as follows.

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…

  • It will humble me
  • I need to think over my limitless career options
  • The reward of a lifetime is worth the challenge of a lifetime
  • I’ve never been to the East Coast
  • I want to somewhat liberate myself from technology (says the guy writing a blog)
  • I’m in my twenties, yo!
  • Zombie preparation
  • I love the mountains
  • I want to be inspired by fellow hikers
  • I’ve taken on the secret quest to get the Ring of Power to Mount Katahdin and save Middle Earth (wait, I mean.. what?)

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

  • Have an all around stronger faith in God, myself, and humanity
  • Have an inner Hercules-esque strength
  • Be a walking inspiration
  • Come back with stories for years to come
  • Learn to be more present (“this too shall pass”)
  • Use my confidence as momentum for the next chapter of my life
  • Have the best beard that 22 year old me can muster
  • Be ready to take on the world! And zombies when the time comes..
  • Cry. Probably cry.

If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…

  • Let everyone down and have to face them
  • Have to go find some job somewhere
  • Leave all my trail buddies hanging
  • Never fully believe in myself
  • Tell myself I’ll finish it someday but never actually do it
  • Have to make some sappy “I gave it all I had” Facebook post
  • Lose to the statistics of the Trail
  • Always wonder how my life would be different if I’d finished
  • Cry. Probably cry.

So there you have it folks. These lists are going to push me when the going gets tough and I want to get going back to my warm bed. The weird thing is that I’m actually not completely dreading reaching that point, because I want to know what I’m made of deep down. I want to be pushed, so I can expand what I consider my comfort zone. It’s in these moments of pushing myself that I’ll earn my thru-hiker stripes that I’ll so proudly put on display for everyone to see!

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Nichole : Apr 21st

    Awesome first post! Can’t wait to read more from you!

    Reply

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