The Things We’ll Carry, Part 2

What I listened to while writing this post

Why are we doing this?

This Sunday, Claudia and I were invited to visit the senior adult Sunday school class at our church. We talked with them about our plans, and they had lots of questions about what we’ll eat, how many miles we’ll walk in a day, etc. which we could rattle off answers to, but their final question stopped us. . . “Why are you doing this?”

The class is studying the book of John, and wanted to get our perspective on what it would be like to walk 75 miles over mountains as Jesus did on one journey.  The teacher wanted to give the class a human perspective of the trials Jesus and the disciples faced on their passage. We take the difficulties of their travels for granted. The gospels don’t give much detail on what disciples ate, where they slept, or how much their packs weighed. Clearly the technology has changed, but we affirmed YES hiking 75 miles over mountainous terrain would be very difficult and should not be taken for granted.


You never read about people giving up on their trips for personal reasons in the gospels. Paul didn’t decide being cold and wet was too much and give up on sharing his message. He was on a mission . . . he had a clear purpose and knew why he was out there and what was at stake.

We have asked ourselves these same questions many times, and are using a framework from  Appalachian Trials to guide our mental preparation. The book asked us to create lists in response to 3 prompts. We both have personal lists in response to these prompts to carry with us. When we feel like quitting or have a tough day/week/month we can turn to these to remember why we thought hiking 2,200 miles was a good idea. A few of our responses are below.

Mental Prep will help us during the tough times. . it's not all sunsets and beautiful vistas!

Mental Prep will help us during the tough times. . it’s not all sunsets and beautiful vistas!

Let’s play 4 truths and a lie

There are 2 responses from each of us and one lie in each category. Can you guess which is which?

  1. I am thru hiking because:
    1. I saw “A Walk in the Woods” and decided to give hiking a try!
    2. I want to get away- less TV, Facebook, phones, screen time etc.
    3. I don’t have to wait until retirement age to live the way I want to live.
    4. I want to cultivate a sense of how God sees people, rather than how I see them.
    5. I have wanted to thru-hike since my 17 year old self met a thru-hiker in the Great Smokey Mountains
  2. When I successfully thru hike the AT I will:
    1. Make a Snapfish book.
    2. Have new perspectives on: time, travel, life, relationships, and God.
    3. Walk to Canada and live a nomadic life in the Great Bear Rainforest.
    4. Have a greater appreciation for the movements of Civil War troops.
    5. Travel to see friends and family.
  3. If I give up on the AT I will:
    1. Not get to finish it with Claudia.
    2. Go to work for “the man”.
    3. Hide and cower.
    5. Essentially be homeless.

Being with the senior adults on Sunday was affirming of why we want thru-hike. I heard several remarks like, “I wish I had done something like that when I was able,” or, “I could never do something like that.” We spent the first 30 minutes of Sunday school listening to prayer requests, and offered our prayers for those present, and those confined to hospital beds or long term care facilities. It was a stark reminder that we only have a limited time on earth, and our bodies will eventually betray us. There is even a rule that describes how fast our bodies decline, known as the 1% rule(Krause’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process). After age 30 our body’s ability to function declines about 1% every year until it gives up. This process can be slowed, but not stopped by staying active throughout life (The Complete Book of Swimming) . The senior adults asked us why we are doing this, but deep down, I think they already knew. They see an adventure loving couple, without kids, and a chance for the experience of a lifetime.

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Comments 9

  • Bruce Carter : Mar 3rd

    Looking forward to your reports as you go along the way, but of course we will still be enjoying the nice comforts of our home.

  • Sunday School Teacher : Mar 4th

    Our bodies may remain ‘senior’, but you two gave us young thoughts and wishful ideas Sunday morning. Excited for your adventure and looking forward to the blog posts AND your return at the conclusion.

  • Rebecca : Mar 4th

    You two have chosen to go on the adventure of a lifetime. You have the prayers of many of us traveling with you with each step – prayers for health and safety, discernment, discovery, and some magic thrown in for good measure. Our Lord has prepared much for your travel. Your lists make me wonder what His lists contain!

  • Tanner : Mar 4th

    Remember, guys – The you that plans and sets out on the journey is not the you that walks and certainly not the you that has walked. There are many ways that you can assign purpose to this journey ahead of time, but only the people you become will have any way of describing “why” to the people you are today. The reason that The Journey connects through the lives of the holy is that the conversations you have with yourself in the cold and heat and wet and pain and solitude about who you are and where you are going and “why” become, over the months, the most honest and pure conversations you will have with a human. At the end of the road no one will ever be able to make you doubt who you are in the deep down depths of your soul. You will surely know.

    I’m excited for you guys. Don’t forget replacement spandex and the finest spoon and lighter you can acquire.


    • Andrew : Mar 9th

      Wow, thanks for the words Tanner! I feel like assigning purpose before the trip is helpful to get me through all of the work it takes to prep and leave. . once we get to Springer I’m open for the trip to unfold in its own way. We spared no expense and got long-handled spoons from REI and they’re all we ever wanted in a utensil, so we can leave all the rest behind. I’ll take your other points into consideration before we head out!

  • Katie Walden : Mar 6th

    Can’t wait to share in this adventure with you!

  • Wendy Smith : Mar 15th

    Hi, Andrew. This is Wendy Smith from the UTK Dept. of Public Health. We would like to put a link to your blog on our website in the “News” section. Do you happen to have a photo that we can use? Thanks!

    • Andrew : Mar 15th

      Sure! I’ll find one and e-mail you.

  • ashwink : Aug 8th

    Big fan of Board games because its requires special skills to win bejeweled 3 games so that am playing and sharing with all.


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