What Possessed Me To Do This

Well why shouldn’t I?!

I graduated college in May 2015.  I am not cemented to a career path or any long term commitments.  I work for a bicycle shop which has allowed me to spend the past wonderful year talking about, riding, racing, living, and breathing bicycles.  Not only all that but it is paired with a hiking and camping outfitter so I’ve had plenty of encouragement in my decision to hike from multiple successful thru hikers.

Last summer the idea to go for a six month hike popped into my head and it stuck.  No matter what I did I couldn’t get it out.  I started seeing white blazes every time I closed my eyes.  I started feeling trapped when I couldn’t get out and hike in the Smokies, my home turf.  Years of cycling and triathlon training have addicted me to the feeling of finishing a long race or doing well in shorter ones.  Working for months on end to achieve a goal for no one but myself (with no major repercussions to giving up early) only fueled my desire to hike 2,189.1 miles.  Once the goal gets in my head, it isn’t going anywhere until I reach it.

I managed to talk myself out of my A.T. journey at one point this past fall.  I told myself I could do it later.  I needed to go back to graduate school first, or at least take a few classes, before I could “allow” myself to spend six months away from the “real world.”  But what more real, more raw world is there than spending six months in the woods? When I 110% committed to hiking, I entered the “Tell everyone who will listen that you are hiking The Whole Thing”  phase.

The unimportant reactions to the news involved telling me to take a gun and that it’s too dangerous to go by myself.  The most important reactions were complete excitement because I’m about to have the best experience of my life so far.

Which brings me to:

Whys, Whens, and Ifs of the AT.

They’re required, you know.  Just read the book this website is named for.

To have the biggest adventure of my life is why I’m thru hiking the Appalachian Trail starting at Springer Mountain on March 28th, 2016.  I want 6 months to find direction in my life and push my comfort zone.  I want to spend time alone but also want to get out of my social bubble and meet new friends.  I want to simplify my life.

When I finish, I will gain more comfort from being alone and a cool head in scary, difficult, and just plain unpleasant situations.  I will create an unbreakable bond with friends from around the world. I will have an an unparalleled sense of achievement and stories of the “adventure of a lifetime”.  I’ll have an unmatched appreciation for my home mountain range and all the fury, kindness, and beauty she can throw at me.

And most importantly, if I give up on the trail, I will be stuck doing things halfway and have the shame of not finishing.  I will have squandered my opportunity for the adventure of a lifetime. I will have wasted a crap ton of money and most importantly, I’ll have broken my commitment to myself and to the trail.

So here it goes. 2016 is my year!

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Comments 1

  • patrick murphy-racey : Jan 31st

    Good for you Laurel. I’m happy and excited for you as you plan your journey into the woods. You have committed yourself to make a long walk. I’ll commit myself to prayer for you as you travel. Remember too that if you don’t make it all the way this year, NO money will be wasted. I have many friends who have done the AT and it’s rarely their will that is broken. I look forward to your next post! Who needs toenails anyways, right? Love, dpat 🙂


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