Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Decision

After months of talking, reading, debating, thinking, and praying, I’ve finally made my decision. I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail!

Actually I decided to do this last October, but I’ve been waiting to tell my boss before I tell anyone else. I completed the former last Friday, so now it's full speed (3 mph?) ahead!

The official length of the trail this year is 2,181 miles. It takes the average person about six months and 5,000,000 steps to walk the entire distance from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. I’ll be carrying my clothing, shelter, food, and anything else I feel like lugging around in my pack, and will stop in towns near the trail about once a week to resupply. There are shelters along the way, although for the most part I will be able to camp wherever I want. I’m starting in mid-March and hope to finish by Labor Day.

To be honest, everything about this scares meI have no idea what to expect. I’ve been hiking before, but never for more than three nights. I’ve never been away from home for months on end. And although I have an incredible hitchhiker’s thumb, I’ve never had to use it. Will I be able to push myself, physically and mentally, day after day after day? Only about a quarter of those who start the trail hike the entire way. Anything could happen (Lyme disease, bear mauling, broken ankle?) to exclude me from that statistic. My goal is to finish, but I understand that it might not happen.

So why am I doing this?

It’s something I’ve been interested in for awhile now, and I want to know if I can do it. I've set a goal for myselfin my mind the journey has already begun, and I want to follow that path to completion.

What better time than now?

As intimidating as it is, along with fear comes the excitement of adventure. The idea of being in a new place every day, a place I have never been, is appealing. Excepting a few miles in Virginia and a few feet in Tennessee, each footstep and sight will be fresh to meuntrodden, untouched, unknown. And linearly (more metaphoric here than literal) progressive. I like that.

I’ll be updating this blog from my phone, and I plan to upload some pictures and videos along the way as well, although it will probably be easier for me to put pictures on Facebook, so check there too if you’re interested! It’s going to be a long journey, so any encouragement along the way will be much appreciated!

“Everyone knows that tearing feeling between necessity’s pull and your heart’s pull. That balance between needing to pay the bills and having a dream. It is a difficult road. All I [know is] that I [am] determined somehow to follow my heart...”
-Bear Grylls, The Kid Who Climbed Everest