While I Wait, Here’s Why I’m Hiking
All the gear is bought and packed, just staring at me from the corner of my room. I’ve quit all my jobs, moved most everything to storage, and the going away party was amazing. But I’m still here. Just waiting and getting more nervous with each passing day. While I have a good reason to still be here — my best friend, my person for over half my life, is giving birth to her first child any day now (currently past due) — sitting idly by and reading of other hikers’ first mile or 300th mile is frustrating. So I’ve decided that I’m getting my first lesson: patience. The trail is long and just as much of a mental feat as a physical one, so I’ve taken the time to write up a few of my reasons for hiking the AT and I’ll share a couple here.
Fulfill a Dream
I’ve wanted to hike the AT since I was in high school. At first it was just a trivial thought, but eventually I learned more and it became more interesting and important. First I contemplated doing little sections, then maybe doing a larger portion, and eventually it made its way onto a bucket list, but still not as a thru-hike. Over the past 15 years the AT has come back to me through random conversations with strangers or something I saw on TV, and most recently when it turned out my tattoo artist was completing a thru-hike. That was the final straw; it kept making its way into my life, so I just needed to do it already.
Hit the Restart Button
I noticed that after doing everything I was “supposed” to do in just the right order, I just wasn’t happy. I was always waiting for the next thing. I was living for the future, not the now, and that’s because I don’t know what I really want to do. I went to college, then grad school, and was going to apply to doctorate programs, until I thought about it and realized I just got stuck in the cycle of the next step and never figured out what I want to actually do. So instead of possibly wasting the next five to seven years, I’ll take six months and do something I know I want to do and figure out the rest later.
Take a Risk
I love stability. I love to be prepared. I absolutely detest risk. In my thought process, it’s never worth it, but reasonably, I know that not all change can be bad and sometimes you have to take a risk. So I’m taking it. The risk isn’t exactly what you’d expect, like quitting my jobs and running away to hike a trail, it’s that I told everyone in my life that I’m going to hike this whole damn trail without any assurance that I actually can do it. I’m risking a bruised ego and total embarrassment, but I’m really hoping the experience of being out there will be worth it even if I don’t succeed in completing it.
See Some Kickass Views
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was in it to see some amazing views. Growing up and living in flat Northern Indiana hasn’t really provided the vistas I’ve been drawn toward since I was young. I have one fuzzy childhood memory of a road trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park where I got to experience real mountains. Ever since then I’ve been fascinated. I can’t wait to experience my first summit, knowing I had to work for the view and get to soak it all in before I start my decline and start all over again.
I have several more reasons for taking this hike, but frankly that’s for me to know. So in the meantime I get to have some last hangs with friends, take a few more walks with my pack, over-scrutinize everything in said pack, scour through every AT thru-hiker group, and be thankful I might get to miss out on all the snow.
See you on trail soon.
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