It started with a kiss, who’d have thought it would come to this?
The Big Decision
So…I want to walk the Appalachian Trail. Here I am, currently at sea in the Mediterranean, on a private owned super-yacht. Sun, sea and sandy beaches as far as the eye can see and I want to trade all of this in for a tent in the wilderness. It has only just dawned on me that this is something I really want to do. Why? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. Am I trying to prove something to myself or to others? Who knows. What I know now is that the seed is planted and that tree is growing quickly.
I first heard about the Appalachian Trail whilst I was working in a shipyard in Belfast, Maine last year. I was at in my local watering hole and started to speak to a lovely lady called Wendy. Mentioning my hobbies and interests, Wendy suggested I should do it. I’ve never been a one to turn down a challenge and Wendy thankfully set those wheels in motion. After searching for a while for the “Abolition Trail” (ignorant Limey! I thought it was to do with slavery), I found what I was looking for. WOW!!
The Journey So Far
How did i get from having a beer in a bar in Maine, to sitting on a boat in the Mediterranean, to planning my through hike? Last December I was finished from my job due to blah blah blah…. and wen’t back to my home town of Newcastle, England. I spent 6 months there with friends and family (the longest I’ve spent there since leaving home for the military at 16 yo) before I took the job as Chief Engineer onboard another yacht and here I am now, at sea. Then it came to me one day (Thursday 06 September 17 to be exact) that I’m going to walk the Appalachian Trail. That pipe dream became a reality.
I initially wanted to do the SOBO hike however finishing in Maine will allow me to spend some time after the hike with friends before the job hunt starts again and get back into the rat race.
So at the minute I am trying to gather as much information as possible. Trailing websites, forums and social media sites as much as I can or as much as or satellite internet permits. I’ve done enough walking/camping to know It is achievable, it is the other logistics of a big solo expedition I need to sort out. How do I get there? Planes, trains and automobiles. Permits. What pace am I going to go at? Rest days or no rest days? Tent or Bivi? The list goes on.
There are numerous apprehensions about undertaking such a big commitment. Money being one of them. Walking away from a decent job when you have mortgages and dependants is no easy task. Careful planning is required for this alone. Then there are the horror stories (I’ve seen the movie Deliveracne). Reassuring friends and family that seemingly need more reassurance than me. The constant questions and remarks “are you mad?” “Thats a long way!” “Why?” “Aren’t you afraid of Bears?” ……Wait a minute!, no one mentioned anything about bears! I’ve never come face to face with one therefore I’ve never felt the need to be scared of them, until now. As it turns out, from lots and lots of reading, it’s not the bears I am most worried about. The mosquitos and black flies will be my nemesis. Ever since a bad experience when I lived in Turkey, if anything buzzes around my head I turn into some uncoordinated Hong Kong Phooey. I also have the added bonus of being O+ blood group which they adore. I guess I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
So, for now it’s, back to planning.
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