Hiking

There’s no “why” to hiking the Appalachian Trail

HOW DID I GET HERE?

I woke up this morning staring at a 2500 mile cannon, repeat that number and slow down. After 5 years of planning, preparing and dreaming, the first steps are only 1 day away. I am terrified. I am excited. I am dumbfounded. How did I get here?

HOW IT STARTED?

The beginning of this crazy adventure begins as most do, deep in the night with only bits and pieces of our minds whirling. Chris, my high school friend and longtime hiking partner, and I had one of our usual platonic, by no means friendly competitions over who could do it better. We finally landed on the idea of ​​a fantastic endurance competition of body, mind and spirit – The Appalachian Trail.

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Immediately, the fervor turned into determination. Within a month we found ourselves collecting rainwater on the side of a country general store just 6 miles up Pinhoti Trail (this was due to a water filter not working with no backup to properly speak). A few years later and a handful of journeys later, the hardships went from life-threatening issues to mill-trek issues – blisters on my feet, bruised shins and the looming question of what convinced me to walk too far in the woods?!

Chris and I once got our boots on. Hike number 3 (7 days, 80 miles, hot Alabama summer).

WELL, WHAT CONVINCES ME TO WONDER SO FAR INTO THE WOODS?

At first, it was to prove something to me… I can finish what I start. Then it morphed into a way to get away from upvoting, downvoting, getting yourself into mainstream society, whether it’s work or school, to prove to others and ultimately to yourself -even that you have value – I wanted the time to define mine value. I was then introduced to the sudden death of my father. The answer changed again – to find healing, to get well so that I could help myself and others.

My late father and I standing on the bank of the Niagara River. His surprised face is complemented by my sly face – I fooled him. XD

THE ANSWER, OR… THE LACK OF

Simply, I don’t know. Still, I find that occasionally the answer presents parts of itself. how i got here and the reason i walk are related, but how has not been revealed. Perhaps during this 2500 mile journey the connection will become more apparent. All I know now is this: the adventure of a lifetime began as a drunken pipe dream. But, after 5 years, the dream became an opportunity because a space was created. The space was created by myself through an obsessive desire to see it become reality. The space was created by loving, hardworking parents who, willingly or out of guilt, give me a safety net in case I fail. Space was created by a support network of lifelong friends, lost loves and caring strangers. Now is the time for me to fill that space with a 50 pound backpack, over 5 million steps and maybe a why to hike the AT.

Visiting my parents before heading out on the Appalachian Trail.

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