Few people attain their ultimate goals, it seems, for one good reason or another. Priorities change and life happens. The loftier the goal … the harder it is to achieve.
Thankfully, that logic doesn’t keep life’s dreamers and achievers from hitting the Appalachian Trail (AT).
Many years ago, Grandma Gateway famously hiked the AT wearing Keds sneakers — using such high-tech innovations as a shower curtain for a tarp — three times. After having eleven children.
Today, tougher outdoor denizens who measure their packs in grams would die a hundred deaths trying to out-hike that old lady.
Do you know what the difference is between people who thru-hike the AT and those who do not?
- Some quit before they must.
- Some must quit along the way.
- Others don’t quit when they must and
- some don’t even think of quitting.
Don’t kid yourself. You will not know which category fits you until you hit the top of Mount Katahdin for yourself to complete your northbound thru-hike … or until you pause for a night at Blood Mountain, within days from Springer Mountain on your way south to finish your trek.
It’s like marriage.
You can watch a zillion romantic movies and ogle goofy lovey-dovey people on dreamy first dates to form an opinion of what marriage would/will be like, but you’re better off asking married people for the truth. They’ll teach you what you cannot get from books or looks.
So it is with thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Read all you can about the AT. Get the best advice on gear. Get in shape. Psych yourself up … before you hit the Trail.
I loved reading Winton Porter’s book, Just Passin’ Thru, and my Appalachian Trail 2012 Thru-Hikers’ Companion is happily worn. I, however, learned the most about such things as the 100-Mile Wilderness from a petite hiker named “Nectar” than in any publication. She’d been there and done that.
I love this quote from a person who gave the effort everything she had, but didn’t finish:
“Our attitude changed after we started hiking. We were totally uneducated in what it’s like to walk that path. It was harder physically and harder mentally. We had read all these things and still knew nothing.”
Hike your own hike. Learn your own lessons.
Write them all down for your remembrance and for the benefit of others … in our Thru-Hikers’ Tales.
2013 Thru-Hikers’ Tales