Five Million Steps

Somewhere in the southern Appalachian mountains I stumbled across a shelter and sat down for lunch. I flipped open the shelter log and found that one of my fellow hikers had penned a poem about beginning his thru hike. As a read through it, I was surprised to see how much it hit me right in the feels.

In the fifth verse the author had written:

This I walk not because I’m bold or brave,
but from fear of that day I’m old and grave…

I almost choked on my snickers bar reading those lines, and felt overwhelming relief at the realization that I wasn’t the only person out there for that same reason.

After returning home I was happy to find that the author, trail name Raven, had posted some of his poetry online. He has been kind enough to allow me to share his poem “Five Million Steps” here on Appalachian Trials.

Five Million Steps

By: Andy “Raven” Cai

The month of March will set into motion
a journey through woods as wide as oceans,
from the Georgian foothills of Nature’s fane
to sky altars in the mountains of Maine,
a pilgrimage of whole devotion.

I shall hike on this Appalachian trail,
following the blazes of white detail,
‘neath the open sky be it blue or grey,
looking forth only to the northern way,
across these wild rivers, ridges, and dales.

Twenty-two hundred miles to walk and wend,
five million steps before I reach the end.
From start of Spring I now must sprout the will
to go outward bound until Autumn’s chill,
with the last days my youth has left to lend.

And in these earnest months of much travail,
when I’m lost amidst fog draped morning veils,
immemorial truths I hope to find
from the whisper of branches, leafed or pined,
to the roaring vigor of rain-kissed gales.

This I walk not because I’m bold or brave,
but from fear of that day I’m old and grave,
and with regret, I’ll only meekly sigh
of an unlived life that has passed me by.
This is an adventure I cannot waive.

While I know not if I’ll succeed or fail,
I do ask of you, dearest friends, regale!
For now, walk along with me in your mind.
And should you find your own path as divined,
by taking that first step you’ll have prevailed.


If you like the poem, make sure to visit Andy at for more.

Photo courtesy of AeLin “Birch” Compton

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