Earlier this week, for the first time since deciding I was going to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail 10 months ago, someone told me flat out that I would not be able to do it. Now, I’ve run into people who were skeptical, people who have told me hiking the AT isn’t resume-worthy, people who couldn’t reconcile the reality and probability and logistics of it all. But up until a couple days ago, no one had told me directly, to my face, that I would not be able to do this.
But to be honest, hearing that for the first time wasn’t as surprising as I expected it would be.
It wasn’t unfamiliar, because it’s what I’ve been telling myself through fret and worry for the last few weeks.
This. Is. Impossible.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been drowning in the logistics of planning, mostly financial, and I was really getting exhausted under the weight of the fact that, in roughly four months, it’s time to walk. Taking a six month hiatus from life to walk 2,000+ miles less than a year after having back surgery to correct an injury that was an inch from paralyzing me doesn’t seem super feasible most days. I look at medical bills and student loans and my savings account, and it’s laughable. I look in the mirror and see what five years of fighting that disc herniation did to my once athletic build, I consider walking 2,000+ miles, and I shake my head and scoff at myself. I remember I can’t feel my right leg from nerve damage and remember that I’ve had a headache since July, and when I add everything all together, I’m just a little baffled at my own audacity.
There’s nothing logical about this, to be honest.
It’s common, when faced with a seemingly impossible task, to be given advice to turn the anger from doubting voices into fuel to prove them wrong or whatever, but these words from my friend didn’t irritate me or frustrate me. I didn’t feel resentment toward him, but instead (and after a couple of days, tbh), I experienced gratitude. What his words did was bring me back—back to the first time I considered hiking the AT, the first time I got lost in daydreaming and late night research. Those words brought me back to visions of walking with people, sitting with people, in the silence only found in nature and in community shared, in these places where we find each other and ourselves and purpose beyond predisposed, unsolicited expectations. I remembered how ACMNP connected Alli and Sydney and I over the course of 15 months, and how God laced our individual dreams together to collectively do something bigger than ourselves, with the blessing and support of an organization that has stolen our hearts. I’m remembering the dream and the reclaiming that I imagine my time on the Appalachian Trail will do.
There are a million little doubting voices in my head and in my heart about this hike, but as I sat in a Panera Bread today watching a documentary about the AT, resisting tears, I remembered the words of a friend from so many years ago: God doesn’t make you hungry without having prepared a feast. I think getting choked up reminded me that I’m hungry. Finding courage to write this blog reminds me that I’m hungry. Choosing to take a deep breath and trust that I didn’t make this dream up reminds me that my hunger will be satisfied, both through the hike and the people I share it with. Preparation is scary and logistics are daunting—
But there’s a feast to be had.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.