The Night Before the AT
Imagine laying in your cozy bed, while realizing that this is the last time you will be in that bed for a long time – that’s precisely what I am doing right now. After all these months of planning and utter excitement, my last night is finally here.
Now, I want this post to sound happy. I am thrilled to finally start what I have been dreaming of for so long but damn, is it terrifying. The idea of leaving my regular life that I have grown so accustomed to; my friends, my family, and my comfort behind – all to march around in the forest for months on end. All sorts of thoughts are running through my head, some good and some bad. What if I don’t finish? What if I hate it? What if I never want to return to my regular life after this? Am I going to enjoy eating thousands of calories in junk food every day? (Yes). Having so many questions that I won’t be able to answer until I have started scares me. Everyone who does this hike assumes they will fall in love with it. But, the truth is, most people don’t ever finish it. That can be because of injury, family issues, work, or finances – but the biggest reason people leave is from mental fatigue. Doing the same thing over and over again, and putting yourself through the elements of nature every day while everyone else enjoys the comfort of their regular lives undoubtedly makes it a challenge.
This sense of fear also comes from how my last month transpired. My entire life changed dramatically over the previous three weeks. Before these last weeks, everything was normal, and the AT was something I planned for almost like a hobby on weekends. Nearly a month ago is when the chaos started: I had surgery that probably should have waited until after my hike, I had to pack up my whole life into a storage unit in Colorado, I did a quick solo road trip home to Oregon to say my final goodbyes to friends and family, and tonight, I finished my last essay for the online college courses I took this semester.
While all of that was happening, I almost wasn’t thinking about the AT because so many other things were happening in my life. Now, I sit in this bed with the haunting realization that it is actually happening. I watched the tears fall down my mom’s face as I drove off to the airport, giving my brother one last hug and having a lovely dinner with my dad and grandparents.
Tomorrow, I will get on a plane (praying they don’t make me check my bag) and head off to meet with my hiking partner, Erin – then it is all a reality. The rain storms (that I am actually super excited for), the incredible people I will encounter, the funny challenges we will participate in, and all of the stunning views while we eat our nasty dinners. I will miss my life at home every day, but I cannot wait to see what the AT has in store for me.
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