When One Door Shuts Another Opens or Something Like That

Have you ever met a person who is one of those acts now; speak later? Perhaps they often do or say silly and wild things, and, when asked, no solid explanation is provided other than an ‘I dunno. It sounded like a good idea at the time.‘ Additionally, said person can often be difficult to describe to others except with ‘is hilariously entertaining and/or completely ridiculous’…

Fun fact: That person just maybe, possibly, probably, is me.

I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times I have acted without thinking things fully through. It mostly works out a-okay since every time it does not, I learn what to not do again (usually). I am an ever-changing and evolving wonder to behold in the sense of ‘how did you get this far in life…?‘ I often wonder this myself, but that is a story for another day. I enjoy learning, growing, and experiencing all life is willing to throw my way. So, I seek out those wild times. The thrills are simply in the name of adventure!

Onto a little FYI about yours truly…

Please, let me introduce myself as Tom aka “Ranch”. I will be attempting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail this coming February 2024. I believe this may be what some consider the opportune time to provide a list of ‘why the heck would you do that….!?‘, and we will get there. Don’t you worry your wonderful heart away! There are a bit more fun facts and tidbits to give you first. I follow a set of ground rules or ‘words to live by’. A very wordy mantra, if you will, which mostly defines my entire being (good and bad). Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. I am a firm believer that life is meant to be enjoyed with as much laughter as humanly possible.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff, just wing it.
  3. It’s okay to laugh at (or with) yourself.
  4. I have the worst luck of anyone I know and am 100% a wild card on what will happen.
  5. I have my language for so many items and phrases that are brought out when I can’t quite identify exactly the item/thing but I can it’s second or third cousin twice removed on their mother’s side. It’s quite fun.

Whelp, now onto the fun stuff! As I said previously, my name is Ranch, and I’m going to give an AT Thru-Hike a whirl this coming year in 2024.

You want to do what?

A thru-hike of the AT has been a long-desired life goal of mine, but I never imagined I would get the chance to until much later in life. I discovered the trail many moons ago when I was but a teen. It was mind-blowing about a long trail that people hike its entirety in one fell swoop, but not just in a week or so – six months(ish) due to the length. Scouring the (gaining popularity) interwebz provided various AT websites and resources, and have never looked back. I read books upon books of the thru-hiker how-to’s, and so many memoirs from thru-hikers. I found it all so fascinating and beyond intriguing. However, I didn’t put much thought into whether I wanted to accomplish this same feat until I read about Grandma Gatewood. BOOM! My life was changed when I learned of her fantastic thru-hiking feats, and her amazing life story. It was then I had ultimately made up my mind, the decision had been made, and this goal was solidified. I will (hopefully someday) thru-hike the Appalachian Trail!

Nothing is a better dream than the AT.

Life threw quite a few curveballs my way, as expected. Life be, ya know, life-ing like its usual self. Fast forward many, many years and life events to the Fall of 2022 where, due to a personal loss, I found myself with a different life, but now heavy, and very saddened heart. Although as sad as I happen to be about the untimely farewell I had, I am, instead, so fortunate to have such a wonderfully supportive wife who encouraged me to finally go for it – the Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Decision made…many discussions to be had still but….huzzah, it is settled and…oh boy, this is happening?!

So without further ado, I will leave you with a list of 10 reasons I am hiking the AT: 

  1. Complete a life goal from many years ago.
  2. Do something simply for me – nobody else.
  3. Take the time to walk through and process grief.
  4. Prove to myself I can accomplish goals.
  5. Help promote and foster trans awareness and acceptance on the trail.
  6. Put the importance of mental health in the forefront.
  7. Push my limits learning to trust myself.
  8. Make my own decisions no matter the outcome.
  9. If I can do this, you can too, my friends.
  10. Just. Let. Go.


Until next time, I bid you all a fond farewell!

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Comments 2

  • None Given : Dec 29th

    Howdy Ranch! I too am going to hike the AT starting in Feb. I would like to share a thought with you if I could. You can take it with as a grain of salt. Your reasons fall closely to mine. I had a moment of clarity or an AH HA moment if you will the other day. Am I going on this walk – about for me to heal, recollect myself, and push myself to the limit and then keep going? The thought that came to me is on the no quit side of thinking. Ones mom will recieve you home with open arms. Cuddle you and say everything is ok. Come here and I’ll take care of you. As any mother would. Dad though, I can see him standing there with a beer in his hand talking to his friends saying: “I knew he didn’t have this in him. Now he’s back and going to live off me for the next however long. Bluh blah blah. Ones friends would be saying something very close to that and slowly they would all move away. Quiting the trail would kind of create a barrier. Now I do have to say that both of my parents have passed (some of the reason). So the dad in this might be the wife (my wife and I divorced this year another reason for my walk-about). The thing that got me in this thought process was and is; what are my boys going to think and say. Of course they wouldn’t say anything to my face. I’m sure they would be greatly disappointed and have nothing to brag about. One knows that they will be bragging when one is on the trail. To come home without completing would be losing face not only for the hiker but also for them. I know you didn’t ask for my opinion I had to share this thought with someone. I hope it helps you out there on the trail as we both wing this. Flying by the seat of the pants is the only way to live in my opinion.
    See you out there Ranch!

    • Ranch : Dec 30th

      You point out quite a few things I can totally understand, and I appreciate your willingness to share these thoughts and opinions here with me! For your boys and others, think what they may, it is your choice to finish, to not finish, or to take a break (or multiple breaks). It’s never about the completion status, but the journey that matters – especially for those of us seeking time to heal. If at half way you come to the conclusion you are fulfilled and happy with how far you have come, it is more than okay to call a ‘time out’. Just attempting to give it a whirl is a huge undertaking which I think many people under estimate until they are given further details about the trail’s entirety. I would imagine it is safe to say they will always brag about you, completion status achieved or in progress. It’s worth bragging about! Happy trails, my friend!


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