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Where to start.. it's been a year and a half since my adventurous Appalachian Trail (the AT) thru hike. Stating the obvious, yes, it was life changing. It's meant more to me than any goal I've achieved in my lifetime. Sometimes it feels as though it was just yesterday that I was covering 2200 miles in six months, and at other times I feel as though it was a far off dream and that I can't remember its details.
I read tons of blogs of many who have achieved what I have, and I find myself more impressed by their conquering of the AT than mine. Like in some way they were able to get more from their hike, or they were simply "better" than I was at hiking that difficult passage from Georgia to Maine. It's not to say I'm not aware and understand what I did was a huge accomplishment, but it's more so that you have high expectations after hiking the AT, and when life returns to normal, it's hard to grasp the differences. I truly don't want the feeling of the hike grind to ever leave me. I've done some pretty good hiking since. When I find time, I head out to Lincoln Woods and Thoreau's Walden Pond to hike for a few hours. I've spent time in the White Mountains on my own -the way I always prefer- and I've been up to Old Speck Mountain in Maine a number of times to get my AT fix on. I spent three weeks in Montana's Glacier National Park last summer hiking all over. That truly got my blood flowing when it came to "hiking the good hike," but I've never felt as though I was doing enough.
Understanding that if I want to hike thru hikes, I need to work to put myself in position to do so. It's not easy to see the big picture at times. I feel guilty if I'm not following through on some of the things I promised myself while I hiked the AT. I've put some weight back on, wasted some good days by choosing Netflix instead of a hike in the woods and allowed myself to be in a toxic situation much longer than I ever really should have. I've found myself angry and disappointed at times asking myself, "WTF am I doing?!" And then I realized something, I'm living life.
What's the point of learning the lessons of a thru hike if you can't put them to use when life presents its challenges? A thru hike makes me no different than any other person on this planet. Doesn't make me braver than most. Doesn't make me wiser. Doesn't make me bolder. Doesn't put me above anyone at any time. It's simply an accomplishment of pushing myself to my limit. Who can't push themselves to their max when they truly feel it's needed? I needed the AT at that point of my life. Hell I need the spirit of the AT every day of my life. I realized even on my worst days on the AT that life for me would be better literally moving forward. This was something I could build a life around. This was and is my chance to live life to its fullest. Will there be mistakes? Yes.. Will there be steps back before bigger steps forward? Yes.. Will I have those WTF moments more so than not? Perhaps... And I will embrace them all and keep pushing forward.
In less than four weeks I will be taking my next step forward to achieve this crazy dream of hiking the three major thru hikes of the US. The second challenge for me is the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2700 mile hike starting south at the Mexican border and meandering north through California, Oregon and Washington to the Canadian border.
I'll cross 600 miles of the Mojave desert. I'll climb through the snow covered Sierras. Then I work my way through the massive forests of Oregon and trudge through the rain forest of Washington. It will be the grind all over again. It will be taxing and will most likely push me to the brink in ways very different than the AT, but I expect I'll find my way through it. I know I'll have love and support believing in me. I know I'll have so many different WTF moments. I know all of this, but I'll keep looking ahead, pushing forward. And I will most certainly hike the good hike...
Keep on hiking the good hike