You’re Hiking Because of Will Smith? Yes, Let Me Explain

Before we get to Will Smith, I’ll leave you a little confused while I give you some background.

To be honest, I’ve been going back and forth between fear and excitement when I think about starting my thru-hike next spring. I’m going solo, to my mom’s dismay and my dad’s excitement, and I’m a serious extrovert with a healthy respect for bears. So, yeah, a lot of people have been taken aback when I tell them I’m planning to spend six months in the mountains alone. I’m mostly excited, but there are moments when worry and fear loom in the background.

Fear as an Obstacle

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that sometimes I’ve let fear become an obstacle to life. Fear of danger, fear of failure, fear of not measuring up; all these and more have limited me in the past. Before this gets too #deep, I’m also scared that I’m going to rip my only pair of pants over a cathole this coming spring/summer. Something changed how I think about fear, though, and it was a prince who brought about the change in perspective.

Will Smith on Skydiving

See what I did there? Prince? Like Fresh Prince?



In 2017, Will Smith appeared on a talk show and told a story about skydiving and fear. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend checking it out. Right now.

It’s pretty powerful stuff. When I first saw this video, I was floored, and looking back this video is what set off the domino that has me here planning a solo thru-hike.

Thanks, Mr. Smith.

Turning Fear into Fuel

Now I’m not saying that the fear of hiking alone for six months is the same as that of launching yourself out of a perfectly good airplane. To paraphrase Will Smith: the best things in life exist on the other side of our fear. So when fear and worry attempt to derail me, I think about what’s waiting on the other side of those things. I’m at a point in my life where a lot of things are wide open, which can be scary in it’s uncertainty. However, of two things I am certain:

  1. I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and,
  2. I’m doing it in spite of, and maybe even a bit because of, the fear.

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Comments 2

  • Zach : Nov 15th

    This deserves a gold medal from the magnetic title commission.

  • Gma : Nov 17th

    I think you can take this challenge and go all the way. Just one day at a time. How do you set it up? Do you get rest and breaks? do you have water access all along the way.? When and how do you communicate?


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