It got real for me last Thursday. I’m not sure why then, and not so many other days prior to that which could have served as better milestones. I was on the phone with the customer service department of Gregory packs (They are excellent, by the way. Great products and great support. And no, they didn’t pay me to say that.), and realized that I was asking them to rush the repair of my pack because I was leaving in just over a week.
Less than a month from now, I’ll be living in a whole different world, existing as an outsider on the fringe of modern society and reveling in it. I’m embarking on the great American hiking trip. That is, thru-hiking the approximately 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain near my home in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
There’s a spark that’s arced back and forth in my mind off and on for years, and it’s finally caught tinder and burst into an all-consuming flame of obsession. I live and breathe hiking. Gear, food (SO MUCH FOOD),
pack weight, re-supply points, mileage, and all the things that come with it. I now identify myself as a professional backpacker. Walking will be my job, and I’ll get paid by the experience.
I’m putting the same effort I did into my old career job into re-shuffling my life so I can reject the modern world and all its conveniences. A lot of people would probably find it counterintuitive to sell off modern luxury items that I paid good money for so that I can live in a tent and eat bottom-shelf food. Detaching from modern society is surprisingly inconvenient when you’re actually serious about it. But I can’t think of anything that could possibly be more appealing.
See, what I’m chasing can’t be bought. The freedom, the purity of experience, the sheer enormity of the distance, the culture and people of the trail… things that can’t be found in the same world as scripted reality TV and 3-D pancake batter printers that will shoot out a pancake in any shape you want for only $199. (This is a thing. Look it up if you don’t believe me.) My heart is already out there, everything else just needs to hurry up and follow suit.
This is my new life, and this blog will be a window into it. My entire year, and probably a lot more, will be defined by this trip.
A lot of folks have called me crazy for doing this. Maybe I am. Maybe I cracked six months ago when I quit my job after realizing that freedom and purpose can’t be bought. Maybe I fell off the wagon when I started questioning why we live the way we live. Maybe I took a wrong turn when I stopped playing by society’s so-called rules.
But maybe I didn’t. Maybe I’m right. Maybe, just maybe, I’m exactly where I need to be.
This will be a trail journal, yes, but my hope is that it will be more than that. My hope is that through the millions of steps I’m about to walk up the right hand side of our continent, I’ll inspire you to take some steps of your own. It might not look like a thru-hike for you, but I guarantee there’s something in your life that you’ve dreamed of doing just like I’ve dreamed of this.
I don’t know for sure what this trip is going to hold. That’s what we’ll find out between now and September. For now, I invite you to come with me on the journey.
Donate to my GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/25kjt5jg