The AT Experience
In 2014 I was working at a hospital in Key West Florida witnessing people dying on a regular basis. It made me wonder if this was how I was meant to spend my days on Earth. How many of these people have I seen come and go leaving behind dreams yet to be fulfilled? It was at that moment that I decided to start living my life to the fullest. For all I know it could be me in that hospital bed tomorrow, but where do I start? I needed a great adventure, something that would take me out of my comfort zone and push me to my absolute limits, something big. And that’s when it hit me like a blast of cold mountain air, I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail.
I planned meticulously for months on end, buying gear, cooking meals, and setting my tent up in the backyard. After saving up what I thought was the right amount of money I told my boss what my plan was. “We can only give you 4 months off she said”. Knowing that the average hike takes 4-6 months I knew that wouldn’t be enough time. Throwing caution to the wind I put in my resignation, there was no turning back now. With only a few weeks before my planned starting date I began to feel like a wild animal trapped in a cage. I paced around my room with thoughts swirling through my mind. What about bears, hillbillies, snakes, bad weather, lymes disease? What if I break a leg? What if I’m too out of shape? These thoughts started making my house feel like a prison. I had to go, I had to get out there, I had to find answers.
The decision to bring my camera was a probably the toughest one. In total it weighs just over 5lbs. Not to mention I barely knew how to use the damn thing. I had gotten it after a bad break up and had the choice of a taking camera or the furniture. To this day I still wonder what would have happened if I stuck with those Target end tables, futon, and hideous baby vomit colored lamps. Screw it I thought, what’s the point of owning a camera like this if I’m not going to take it on the greatest adventure of my life? So I fashioned it to the front of my backpack and was all set to be the idiot carrying a 5 pound camera.
Before I could say Mt.Katahdin my plane landed in Atlanta and I was catching a ride to the southern terminus. I stepped out of the car and the moment my feet touched the ground I was filming and snapping pictures. Fine tuning the settings and learning what every shiny button and feature did. It didnt take long to realize that pictures and video of plants and vistas weren’t nearly as interesting as the people I was meeting. After the second time I spoke with someone on camera they asked if I was filming a documentary. Not really knowing what to say I just said yes and from that moment things started snowballing. I was getting interviews with hikers, hostel owners, trail angels, trail maintainers, ridge runners, you name it. And before I knew it, just as quick as it all started, I was back home in Key West with over 900GB of data, and over 24 consecutive hours of footage. It took me 3 months just to organize it all. However even with all that footage there were still a few things left out. With Trail Days around the corner I decided to buy a drone and make my way back to the trail for some areal shots. With the newly acquired footage I spent over a year editing the documentary. 2189.2 miles and 2 years later it is with great honor that I present The AT Experience.
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