I have a few reasons for wanting to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT). For one, I would like to lead a less sedentary life and be more willing to get out of the house and do stuff. Another is that I want to make up for lost time; a year ago I had surgery for a severe hernia that affected my social and physical activities for about 8 plus years. It is still embarrassing to admit that (I will detail this in an upcoming post). I also want to have an attainable life goal, while having time to think about my future. These are some of my reasons for wanting to spend half a year out on the trail in 2014.
A year ago I wouldn’t have even considered doing this. So, how did I come to make this decision?
Around March my Dad told me that he won Mt. Whitney lottery for 2013. He then asked if I wanted to join him (he had two permits). At first I dismissed the idea, thinking I am not experienced enough. Besides, even if I was, I didn’t have time to get in shape. I halfheartedly told my dad that I would do a couple of hikes to see how I feel. I ended up not hiking for about 6 weeks. Springtime came around and I started to go on a few hikes and I didn’t feel that great. Still, every weekend I would hike again and I would feel better and better. Even so, Whitney was barely a “maybe” in my mind.
My friend Jen overheard me talking about the possibility of summiting Whitney. She said that she had done it and that if I have the chance I should definitely attempt it. I don’t know why that moment pushed me over the edge, maybe it was just the simple “matter of fact” way she put it. I emailed my dad to tell him that I was in.
I started hiking every weekend, sometimes both Saturday and Sunday. I wanted to at least be physically ready for Whitney in September. I start to slowly research backpacking gear, and then I go on a few one night backpacking trips. I find Andrew Skurka’s video about backpacking gear and long distance hiking. This led me to start to read about the Appalachian Trail online. I talked about the AT at work and a coworker leant me a book called “Just Passin’ Thru” – about an owner of an outfitter right on the AT. I started to wonder if I could ever do something like that. Then I thought “why CANT I do something like that? What’s stopping me?”
I am single, have no kids, no pets, and my employment is temporary. So I dive in deeper, wanting to learn everything I can to see if it is feasible. Will I have enough money? What will I do with my car? What about my apartment?
Once I had an idea of how I would handle those logistics I make the decision and let my friends and family know. I was worried about telling people because of the psychological effect known as ‘Substitution’ – where when you tell someone your goals and get satisfaction from that, you are less likely to follow through on them. I am very comfortable with my decision, I’m motivated to start, it’s all I can think about – I will be in Georgia in March.