Why Going Walkabout Isn’t as Crazy as it Sounds

To Go Walkabout

Walkabout is an Australian Aboriginal rite of passage for a person in their youth to transfer into adulthood.  It is a spiritual journey that one takes through the bush of the Australian Outback.  As a result, the young person grows closer with his/her cultural heritage.  This nomadic lifestyle shies away from modern culture and technology, which is similar to a thru-hiker experience.

Thru-hikers give up their daily comforts, and rough it in the wilderness for several months.  The daily amenities of life that we take for granted are quickly realized when they are no longer within an arms reach.  Several religions and cultures have similar traditions to strengthen their spirituality.  The Christian Faith has Lent, In Islamic culture Ramadan is celebrated, etc.  During these periods participants give up daily amenities to become closer to their god.  It is also meant as a time of self-reflection and a chance to strengthen resistance to bad habits and negative actions.

The General Consensus is “That’s crazy”

Non-Aboriginal Australians look down upon the ritual of walkabout as if it’s ridiculous.  They do not understand it’s cultural or personal significance, nor do they try.  This behavior is seen as aimless and pointless, and often ridicule those that participate.  For those without a wandering spirit it is difficult to understand why someone would want to go walk in the woods for 5+ months.  All thru-hikers have encountered the person with which they excitedly shared the news of their upcoming adventure with only to be met with negativity and confusion.  Most people will have heard, “What the hell are you doing that for?”  Others might say, “You’re never going to make it.”   My favorite is, “You’re really going to go waste that much time in the woods?”  Why yes, I am going to go have an amazing experience while you’re stuck at that job that you hate.

I just recently graduated from college and was trying to decide what I wanted to do before I started my career.  I knew I wasn’t staying at my current job, but wanted to go on an adventure before I got tied down to something that I wouldn’t want to leave.  Therefore, I decided to go Walkabout on the Appalachian Trail.  It will be a journey of self-discovery and personal development (among sore legs and tick bites) that I will never forget.  It’s not often that one has the chance to change their entire lives, but most are too afraid to take the leap.  You, on the other hand, are a total bad-ass.

 Why Others Can’t Compete With You

People are afraid of change.  Some people go their entire lives miserable due to the fact that they aren’t brave enough to take a risk.  They go to their graves with regrets, and what ifs, and unfulfilled dreams.  You would be surprised how many people I have talked to that say, “I always wanted to hike the AT, but I just never did it.”  People envy the fact that they no longer have the ability to do something like a thru-hike (or so they tell themselves).  Fortune favors the bold, and the fact that you are even considering hiking from one part of the country to another shows that you have what it takes to do so.

Take the leap of faith.  As cliche as it sounds, you only live once (in case no one has told you yet) so ask yourself, “Why Not?”  Make a pros and cons list of what happens if you decide to thru-hike.  Start researching gear (if you’re not already packed) and come with me on the journey of a lifetime.  The advantages of escaping “normal” every day life far outweigh the consequences.

Personal Development

As I mentioned before, those who go on walkabout, or any other religious period of transformation, do not come out the same as when they went in.  No matter what happens on a thru-hike it will change you and your perception of the world.  Everyone sets out with different goals in mind for what they want out of their trip.  Some are looking to become closer to God, and believe the solitude will help their efforts.  Others want to test their mental fortitude and physical strength.  What better environment would one hope to reflect in than the mountains?

Henry David Thoreau left the city to live a life of solitude, during the time he wrote Walden.  However, he was not simply just trying to escape an urban lifestyle.  He wanted to see what it was like to live simply and be self-reliant.  Thoreau did not become a recluse, but rather was very fond of visitors to his homestead.  He kept a place prepared for guests to sit at all times should they arrive.  Rather than retracting himself from society completely he changed his environment in order to become the man he wanted to be.  It’s important that we do the same in order to grow into the men and women we hope to become.

Are You Ready To Go Walkabout?

You would be surprised what you are capable of achieving if you put yourself out there.  You can go farther and become more than you ever thought possible.  Upon your return to “normal” life you will be a completely different person, and might be unrecognizable to others.  Your demeanor, your ideals, and your confidence will all be heightened by the experience.  You have a unique opportunity to change your life so take it.

For me the Appalachian Trail is my chance to go Walkabout.  I am looking forward to the changes that will take place in my life over the course of the next several months.  Hopefully, I will come back as the man that I aspire to be and that those close to me need me to become.  I hope to see you on trail so that we might experience this transformation together.

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Comments 3

  • John : Feb 28th

    Excellent perspective. You will love it as it unfolds and forever after! I promise! Best of luck.

    • Tyler Burnette : Mar 3rd

      Thank you. I’m definitely excited to go!

  • David Burnette : Mar 4th

    I’m proud of you son for taking this endeavor on and look forward to seeing you on the other side. Love you;)


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