Ten Reasons I Am Excited for My Hike
The AT During Winter/Early Spring
I’m an east coast boy – born and raised in South Carolina. I was also fortunate to travel around a lot of the country while growing up, many of these trips on the east coast. Traveling throughout the Appalachian region, I was drawn to hiking the Appalachian Trail. And before my thru-hike in 2019, I had a fellow hiker try to convince me to hike the PCT instead. But I wanted to see my “backyard” through the trail. And now with another AT hike on the list with the calendar year triple crown, I am excited to see my ‘home trail’ during the winter – a very different time period than my first thru-hike which was late March through late August.
Being Immersed in the Trail Community
Many people ask, “what was your favorite part of your AT hike?” And I usually answer, “the trail community.” Some people take this as a cop-out answer, but it often leads to a great discussion of the amazing community around the AT. Unless you are attached to a long trail in some way, you may not realize all the trail angels, hostel owners, former hikers, day hikers, and other people that make up a flourishing and wonderful community. I cannot wait to be surrounded by this community again – across all the trails. The love, hospitality, and camaraderie of the trail community are often unmatched in regular life.
Additionally, I should get to see some of my old friends from my first thru-hike. This includes my hiking partner of 2,100 miles who I haven’t seen since our finish due to COVID. I will even get to meet his new daughter!
Meeting Other Hikers
Hiker Trash unite! Hikers come from all walks of life and have all sorts of different viewpoints and experiences which make most hikers incredibly interesting. And everyone has a similar huge goal that everyone is reaching for! I’m looking forward to meeting all the hikers and getting to swap stories, ideas, and food cravings.
It’s difficult to choose a single location that I’m most excited about. If I didn’t want to see every part of all three trails, I probably wouldn’t be attempting this challenge. BUT, I am still very excited for the Winds. This is a remote, rugged, and beautiful part of the CDT. I purposefully avoid most pictures of the trails. Of course, I have seen a few, but I don’t go searching for pictures or videos of places I haven’t been. I want the beauty to be a surprise and increase my awe.
The High Sierra
Similar sentiment to the Winds – the High Sierra on the PCT is the crux of the trail. It determines when you want to start a northbound hike and how quickly you need to complete a southbound hike. It’s high elevation, usually lots of snow, really remote, incredibly beautiful, river crossings, a chance to climb Whitney, and a long stretch (~200 miles) of the trail. I’m stoked!
Like the Winds and the High Sierra, but a radically different environment. Both southern parts of the CDT and PCT are considered deserts. I have heard all sorts of good and bad about these sections, but I’m weirdly excited. Maybe because it’s different. Maybe because I will probably be ready for some heat after an expected cold start to my journey. No matter the reason, I am ready to see the desert sections and drink it up (bad pun, I apologize).
Finding My Physical Limits
A big reason behind attempting a CYTC versus doing a normal PCT or CDT hike is wanting to find my physical limits. I will need to average around 30 miles per day. I never once did a 30-mile day on my AT thru-hike. I have completed one 30+ mile day on a multi-day hike. I’m going to have to push big miles, manage injuries, and keep going when I don’t want to. This may sound miserable to some, but I love pushing my limits. And how cool will it be to say I did a 40- or 50-mile day?
Finding My Mental Limits
Potentially the largest reason behind attempting this crazy endeavor is my desire to push myself mentally. I will often be alone on this journey which will be the polar opposite of my AT hike. As a true extrovert, I love meeting people, and this often made my first hike easier. I know being alone for long stretches of time on the AT and CDT will be one of the biggest challenges of my journey, but it will also give me a lot of space to grow. Along with the loneliness factor, I am ready to rely upon myself during rain, snow, heat, exhaustion, and all the other tough moments of the hike. This may sound nuts to many of you, but I believe growth happens at the boundaries of my abilities.
Seeing the Country’s Diversity
I get to see the three major mountain chains in this country! How freakin’ cool is that? And I get to do it on foot! If that doesn’t get your heart beating fast then thru-hiking probably isn’t for you. I can’t wait to see all the different ecosystems and fauna that occur on the AT, PCT, and CDT. I’m sure I will come back with 5,000+ pictures and many more memories.
The Swings Between Lows and Highs
My hiking partner and I on the AT often discussed how quickly your mood can change. The first time I experienced this was after my first snowfall on the AT. It was a brutally cold night, and I froze my ass off with every bit of clothing on. I get rocking and rolling in the morning with just a powdering of snow on the ground. Just cold, cold, cold. Mental whining galore. But then I came around a corner and the sun was breaking through the trees. It felt like it warmed up 10 degrees. I smiled, my whining turned to praise, and the rest of my day was awesome. This happens sometimes on trail – and every time, it’s magic. I am ready to experience this magic again, even if I must survive the lows. The highs will come again.
Thanks for reading! Drop comments below of some of your favorite things about thru-hiking, day hiking, or just being a part of the hiking community.
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