Why I’m Ditching “Real Life” to Thru-Hike the AT
Hi. I’m Brian. For the past six years, I’ve been working as an animator director during the day and blogging about food at night. I’ve managed to design a pretty sweet life for myself, and I am truly grateful for all that I have.
A lot is going to change, however, when I head to Amicalola State Park in a few weeks to pick up my thru-hiker tag. I’ll be trading in a cushy job and an extremely comfortable lifestyle for trudging up mountains and sleeping on the ground as I journey northbound on the Appalachian Trail to Mount Katahdin.
Most people believe that I’ve lost my mind. Some think that I am trying to find myself.
Everyone insists that I should bring a gun.
Finding My Why
I don’t have some incredible, life-altering reason for why I am thru-hiking the AT, and certainly not one that my mother is willing to accept.
All I know is that the trail is calling me, and it is something I must do.
As I’ve matured, I have come to realize the importance of doing the things that you love, the things that give you energy. Sitting behind a computer all day does not give me energy. In fact, it does quite the opposite—it drains me.
I might not be saying this 1,000 miles into my trek, but hiking gives me energy. It clears my head and brings me into the present moment.
It makes me feel alive.
Living with No Regrets
In the extremely moving article Regrets of the Dying, palliative care nurse Bonnie Ware recorded the top regrets that she heard from people as they lay on their deathbeds. The most common one was that people wished they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not one that others expected of them.
People don’t expect a thirtysomething at the peak of his career to drop everything and live in the woods for six months. But if I’m going to be true to myself, that’s exactly what I should be doing.
I’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming out office windows about all the things that I want to do “someday.” For my dream of thru-hiking the AT, I am finally having the courage to make “someday” today.
I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…
- Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
- Magic happens when you step outside your comfort zone.
- I want to meet some awesome people.
- It scares me.
- I hope to bring some awareness to the beauty of the natural world and why it needs protection.
- I’m tired of playing it safe.
- I love a good adventure.
When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will…
- Have more confidence in myself.
- Know that I can handle any situation that I may encounter.
- Be more comfortable with who I am.
- Realize that I can survive with only what’s on my back.
- Understand what’s truly important in this life.
- Have a sick beard.
- Throw an epic party.
If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…
- Be forced to hear a countless number of people say “I told you so.”
- Be pretty upset about the amount of time and money that I’ve squandered.
- Have to admit to my mom that she was right.
- Listen to nothing but Kevin Federline’s Playing with Fire for a month straight.
- Make a $500 donation to the NRA.
- Crawl into a cave to spend the rest of my days eating grub worms.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and getting to know me a little better. I’m excited for you to join me on my adventure!
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