Yo, It’s On
Last March, my sister sent me a link via Facebook to a book about the Appalachian Trail and the message “2020 yo it’s on.” The book was Hiking Through: One man’s journey to peace and freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul Stutzman, and her message proposed we for real do something we had talked about for years – hike the length of the AT.
Within days of her message I was obsessively researching logistics, gear, and trail life, watching YouTube videos and Googling endless variations of “thru-hike,” “AT thru-hike,” “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” and so on. Soon enough I decided I’d rather set out in 2018 than 2020 – before I’m 60, before the next presidential election, and because I just couldn’t wait.
Despite my earnest planning, some important things remain up in the air, including where and for how long my sister and I will hike together, but I’m set to leave at the end of February 2018, northbound from Springer Mountain.
I’m 56, have been chronically under-employed and sometimes directionless over the last 14 years or so, since moving to Houston from Boston after finishing a masters degree in journalism. In 2015, I earned a second masters degree, this time a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction. I’ve worked as a freelance journalist and as Communications Coordinator for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. I left that job two weeks ago. I now have about six months to focus on the AT.
In his book Appalachian Trials, Zach Davis (owner and editor-in-chief of The Trek) suggests that a hopeful thru-hiker take at least 20 minutes and write down all the reasons he or she is hiking the Appalachian Trail. I’ll end this introductory post with my list, edited slightly to correct redundancies and delete trivial list entries. I welcome your comments and questions. Yo, it’s on!
I AM THRU-HIKING THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL BECAUSE:
1) I have imagined what it would be like to walk through life knowing that I did this thing, my secret cool thing that gives me power (note to self: would that be called confidence?)
2) I have started and failed and screwed up so many things in the last few years; thru-hiking seems like an opportunity to really start and finish something.
3) It will be an adventure.
4) Over the past few years I have had the blessings of money and time to do many things and yet have not. I should take advantage of my blessings.
5) I want to be strong and thin.
6) It is something I can call an achievement, without doubt and with truth.
7) I am terrified of the world right now and want to escape from it.
8) I am terrified of the world right now and want to gain strength to face it.
9) I will have time and space to reconnect spiritually.
10) I will have the opportunity to recall why I came to worship one God: the natural world He created, the intellect He gave mankind, and the difficulty and ease with which we co-exist.
11) I’d like to be competent at things like setting up a tent or purifying water or just NOT GETTING LOST (caps on to indicate how frequently this happens).
12) I’d like to know that being very short doesn’t mean not being strong (I’m 4’9”).
13) I’d like to get out of my lethargy.
14) I might as well.
15) Why not?
16) I want to cherish instead of fear insects.
17) Something in me broke. I want to fix it.
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