I mentioned the Appalachian Trail on one of my posts the other day, and it led to me and Bud seriously discussing the possibility of hiking it one day. He said, “Well, if you’re going to do it, you need to do it SOONER, rather than later.” So… I’ve made the decision to do it. Spring of 2016..if life as we know it doesn’t end before then.
For those of you who don’t know, The Appalachian Trail is 2,180 miles. The trail goes through 14 states from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Katahdin, Maine. I intend to do a ‘thru-hike’ which means hiking the whole thing continuously. It takes 5-6 months to complete and only 1 in 4 ‘thru-hikers’ finish the trail. From what I’ve read, the majority of people on the trail are either just out of college or (surprisingly) retirees! I’ve read of countless ‘older people’ who have completed the trail, and many kids have completed it too…so I think I can do it. I just recently hit the milestone birthday of 50 years old…but I just don’t feel like it.
I know many of you are probably thinking I’ve gone crazy. I assure you, I haven’t.
How did I become interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail? I stumbled upon a book called, “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed which was about a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. I was struck, mostly, by how this woman had no real experience hiking and I couldn’t stop thinking of what it would be like to live with just a backpack in the woods for so long. After that, I stumbled upon a book called, “Becoming Odyssa,” by Jennifer Pharr Davis, who holds the current record for the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. She, too, was an inexperienced hiker, though a little more prepared. What struck me in this book (and many others I read after this one) was the personal growth that took place while on the trail, and how the hikers were changed for the better after having done it. Thus began my dream of hiking it one day.
Why do I want hike the Appalachian Trail? I’m not under any illusions that it will be a ‘walk in the park.’ I know it will be difficult, painful, scary, uncomfortable, and lonely at times. I want the challenge. I feel like I will regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t attempt it. I feel like it’s something I was meant to do.
Bud is not interested in doing it with me. He has bad knees, and is not into bodily torture for the fun of it. I’m really not afraid of not being able to handle it physically. I’m a pretty tough old bird. Bud teases me about the stock I come from and how we push ourselves to the limit. I have some physical challenges which I might address in the future, but I don’t think they’ll keep me from doing this.
In many ways, I’ve been sheltered for most of my life. I’m a happy follower. It’s much easier to follow than to make my own decisions. I’m really ready to face the challenge of researching, planning this thing, making my own decisions, choosing my own gear, deciding how to deal with problems along the way, sleeping in the woods, and just facing a lot of my fears, in general.
So…Spring…2016. I’m really going to do it! It’s all I’ve been thinking about, lately. I’m going to seriously start researching and buying my gear. I’ve ordered several books, including one on how to plan for the hike. I’ve been pouring over websites about it. I walked up two arduous hills today without rest. There are plenty of trails around here to ‘practice’ on, though I’ve read that you don’t really get your ‘trail legs’ until you’ve actually been on the trail for weeks walking every day.
So…Um….Does anyone have any questions?