Waiting to Find my Why
Hey, my name is Kara. I already have a long list of why I want to hike the Appalachian Trail. However, I feel it’s hard to know the real reason why I want to hike. While I think I have a pretty good idea of why I’m attempting to hike 2,200 miles, I feel like the answers will come to me as the miles add up. As it is, I feel like I’m waiting to find my why.
My main reason I want to hike the AT
It is a privilege
To me, hiking vast distances over many states feels like the greatest privilege. Hiking the AT feels like the greatest gift I could give myself, even if it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The trail wasn’t here 100 years ago, and I wonder whether it will still be here in 100 years. The AT seems like one of America’s greatest treasures, and I couldn’t imagine myself not enjoying it while I can. Also, as a woman there are only so many places I feel safe to recreate. With its vast community and network of people who care about thru hikers, the AT feels like a safe and comfortable environment for me.
My many, many other reasons
I have so many other “why” answers to hiking the trail. One of them is truly “IDK sounds fun.” What doesn’t sound fun about travelling by foot through 14 states with a bunch of friends?
Especially in the last few years, I have been craving community. Partly due to the pandemic, partly due to changing friendships and moving back to Ohio. I want to experience all the AT community has to offer. I want to make friends, and I want to stay connected to the people I meet.
I need a refresher on how to stay grounded. I’d like to think I’m going to gain a greater perspective on the joys in life while hiking the trail. I already enjoy the simple things in life, but I feel myself getting more rushed all the time and need to remind myself to slow down and enjoy something from every day.
Maybe it’s just me being in my 20’s in the political and world climate we’re in, but I really would like to not be so pessimistic about the world. To know the good in people for a change would be uplifting. Plus getting off Facebook for a while will no doubt improve my outlook on humanity.
I want to do something very mentally challenging. I know I have it in me, and as long as my feet don’t give out, I want to keep going. There’s a joy in doing something very difficult while in the company of others. It bonds you together and creates lifelong friendships. In 2018 I bicycled across the country with 27 other people, and I hold the utmost respect for every one of them and consider them dear friends, even if I don’t talk to some of them anymore. That unbreakable bond of comradery in the midst of challenge changes how you see people. BBSUS, you are a tough and compassionate bunch. I love you, always forever.
Now is the time in my life where I am ready. I have a husband that fully supports me and is willing to take care of our home while I’m away. We have the financial ability to allow me to hike for 5-6 months, and physically I’m as capable now as I’ll ever be. I’ve thought a long time about hiking the AT, like most of us have, and I don’t want to wait until I retire. I can’t fathom waiting 20+ years for something I want to do now, and have full ability to do.
My career is not where I want it to be, so it’s not a big deal for me to leave for half a year. I have a job now that I don’t see myself staying at for 30 more years. Hopefully I’ll think of some ideas for what I want to be doing with my career while I’m on trail. If not, I guess I’ll figure it out when I get home. At this point in my life, I’m not very career oriented, but I think that’s because I haven’t found anything worth doing yet.
Life is too short to not do what you enjoy. SO many people look at me like I have 2 heads when I tell them I’m going to hike the whole AT. They simply don’t understand it. But it’s not for everyone to understand, that’s the beauty of it. I know I’ll enjoy my hike, so it doesn’t really matter if other people don’t “get it”. All I want is to celebrate life with like minded people.
One last reason I’m wanting to hike the AT is because I’ve never been to over half the states the AT travels through. One of my goals in life is to travel to every state and make a friend. This hike will bring me much closer to that goal, I’m sure of it. Plus I get to visit some of my biking friends while I’m travelling through.
My reasons for hiking 2,200 miles will change with time and miles. For now, I have my “why” and I’m going to hike with it in mind.
Strong convictions precede great actions – a fortune cookie
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