Why I Am Hiking the Appalachian Trail

It’s Camino season over at REI. For some reason this time of year we get many customers planning their trip to do the Camino de Santiago in Spain. If you’ve never heard of the Camino think of it as backpacking, but with way more access to wine and finer foods. Honestly, the Camino is what sparked my journey into backpacking. I was inspired at the thought of people so devout that they would go roughly 500 miles just to seek God or whatever else they worship. Now I’m finding that maybe I could use a pilgrimage too.

Why I’m Doing a Thru-Hike

I honestly feel lost in a sense. Not that I don’t know who I am or what I aspire to be. Those are pretty clear cut, thankfully, but in that I don’t know what to expect after March hits and I start hiking. Immediately after I finish thru-hiking I’m headed off to law school (where I’m going is murky at best as I’m still waiting on some decisions). I am a planner at my core and this is the first time in my adult life where I don’t have a detailed plan. Currently all I’m thinking is:

1. Get into law school.

2. Get to Katahdin.

It is honestly a really nice feeling the more I face it. Having simple goals makes a simpler life. I have the opportunity to live out a dream, and a great one at that! Being uncomfortable is good because you grow the most in those situations. So in all this beautiful chaos surrounding signing my life away to predatory school loans, and saying goodbye to steady income, I just have one goal for my thru-hike: Seek God.

That’s it, really. Defining moments of my life most often happened on trail and something spiritual happens. I just want to see more of those moments and try to understand more about this creation we call home. At 23, I still have a lot to learn about myself and I don’t know how my next chapter of life will go. Applying to law school is scary. The amount of money involved is horrendous. Waiting for a decision that doesn’t go your way is tough. Life is for living, though, and I will live it to the fullest.

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Tony Bell : Feb 13th

    Good luck on your AT pilgrimage. I’m sure you’ll find more definition and direction for your life during this time. The AT is a future plan of mine, as is the PCT and the CDT, as well as the Camino and many others. Currently I’m getting my fix by staying in shape for the mountains by running trails, occasional day hikes, and the even less occasional short backpacking trips I can get in.
    I’m 55 and I understand what you’re feeling. You’ll hit that ‘lost’ feeling more than once in your life. I’m currently going through another one myself. I know hitting a long trail would help but I’m married and my wife wouldn’t understand or see it that way. Finding the wind for your sails can be difficult at times and you may simply float for a while but be confident that your sails will catch the wind again. Possibly during your time on the AT or immediately after you start the new chapter of your life narrative in law school. Good luck in law school as well. That was a path I was going to take at one time in my life but chose to head down a different one.
    I’m looking forward to following the outcome and self-discoveries of your AT ‘pilgrimage’.


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