Dearest human beings,
First, let me say how excited I am to be a part of the Hitched Hike experience. The decision to hike the Appalachian Trail was a long, slow one for me. When Jeremy and Jacki shared their plan to do a thru-hike, my response was “that sounds fun, but I don’t think I would ever do that”. Then, I would say, “that sounds fun. Maybe one day I’ll do it.” After over a year of the idea floating around in my head, something inside of me finally snapped and it seemed ridiculous to not do a thru-hike. Now, I feel like hiking from Georgia to Maine is a journey that I have to make. The choice almost feels like it made itself, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Despite the excitement, there is a large amount of trepidation. I am a bit intimidated by the idea of walking between 8 and 10 hours a day in everything from the bitter cold to choking heat and snow and rain, sleeping on the ground, carrying everything I need on my back, getting bitten by mosquitoes (and hopefully nothing else), dealing with knees and ankles in constant discomfort, and other various fears (ZOMG BEARS!). But, like everything, I know I must take the bad with the good. I know I’ll be gaining, among other things, a sense of freedom that I have yet to know. I look forward to spending 6 months adventuring with my best friends, sleeping in a new place almost every day, meeting people who I otherwise wouldn’t, playing guitar around campfires and writing fun hiking songs, having space to think and just BE with myself. I view the thru-hike as a condensed version of life — there is a lot of unknown, but a huge potential for fun and adventure. Some days will be great, some days will by trying. Some days friends will encourage me to keep going. The next day, I may be encouraging them. I’ll meet people I enjoy, and I’ll meet people who annoy me (and who are annoyed by me). And, of course, it isn’t about the destination. As my friend, Oli, says: The way is the goal.
I expect to learn a lot about myself and my place in the world. For me, this journey will not only be a physical one, but also deeply spiritual. I look forward to having space to clear my mind. I anticipate I’ll have a healthy amount of time to practice walking meditation. I expect the experience of being in nature and away from distractions like TV, computers and the internet to give me a new experience of mental clarity.
All in all, I’m super-excited about the thru-hike, and I know it will be a blast. The last 10 months of my life have been the best I’ve ever had, marked by lots of growth (and growing pains), insights into self-and-others, and a new respect and appreciation for the world, family, friends, and my very existence. Just being alive is a beautiful moment-by-moment experience that I have too often overlooked, ignored, or taken for granted. I look forward to living well and deeply on my trek, touching life and, hopefully, the lives of others as I go.