Why I Am Walking 2,200 Miles in 2019
The Appalachian Trail is more than just a physical challenge; a great majority of being a successful thru-hiker is a mental undertaking. What makes a person successfully walk 2,200 miles through the rain, over mountainous terrain, with a probable injury and in the company of only themselves most of the day? The short answer to this would be a strong mentality behind completing the trail. In 2017 the Appalachian Trail Conservancy reported that 19% of people who attempted a northbound thru-hike were successful. See statistics on AT thru-hiker completions here.
In preparation for my journey I have read the book Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis, the owner and editor-in-chief of the website theTrek.co. This book discusses the psychological and emotional aspects of successfully thru-hiking the AT. The book helps you mentally prepare by guiding you through exercises that will help you before, after, and during your thru-hike. These exercises include the making of three lists. I am making my three lists public so you can know the answer to why I am hiking the trail. The first two are fun to read, the last one, not so much.
I am thru hiking the Appalachian Trail because …
—I will never stop thinking about it if I don’t.
—Now is an opportune time in my life to do so; if not now then when?
—I want to experience a long-term solo journey while also challenging my mind and body.
—I want to become more confident in myself and decision-making skills
—I want to experience this historical trail and its culture before the opportunity to do so is limited and the nature of the trail is compromised.
When I successfully hike the Appalachian Trail I will…
—Have achieved the hardest thing I have ever tried to accomplish.
—Feel as if I can accomplish any goal I put my mind to.
—Have lots of stories to share, memories to treasure, and experience to rely on.
—Have turned my body into a lean hiking machine.
—Have no regrets.
—See life in a new perspective.
If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…
—Be disappointed in myself and feel that it is OK to settle in other aspects of my life.
—Have to explain my failure to others.
—-Live with the fact that I had an incredible opportunity to achieve a life goal and I gave up on it.
—Feel embarrassed and ashamed.
I know that there will be many days when I will think about quitting. The purpose of making these lists in advance and also making them public is first to remind myself why I want to accomplish my goal and second, holding myself accountable. If you are reading this and are someone I may potentially be calling from the trail telling you I want to quit, please remind me to look at these lists again and why I am doing this.
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Good luck sounds like you can do it.
Go for it and good luck!! All too soon we are sucked into “life” and the ability and freedom to accomplish such a task becomes harder to do. Happy Trails!