Final Countdown

“It’s not just a lighter pack that eases the load after all. It’s knowing there are people that don’t think walking in the woods is crazy.” **

Isn’t it crazy how quickly life flies by? How quickly everything we are looking for ends up on top of us; before we even know what is happening? This is exactly the realization I have to come recently.

So where am I now? Well, I am officially done with work, I have finalized my plans leading up to Amicalola Falls and Springer Mountain, and I am more nervous, unsure, and excited then ever! I have come to believe that the people that we surround ourselves with influence us more then we can imagine. Just like how in my first few blogs I described the influences of the people who helped lead me to the AT, I have found that focusing on work lately, to save money, has led me to question myself more then I have in a long time! Let me start out by saying, I am not second guessing the trip, I still have no other desire then to be on the AT and it is still all I think of every day. What I mean is that, the closer this journey gets, the more I wonder, “What if?” What if I don’t make it? What if I am making a mistake by leaving the real world behind? What if the people I am leaving behind aren’t in my life when I come home? Everyday there is a weird cycle of this, “What if game” that ends with me being reminded of the pesky fact that my whole life, thus far, has led me to hiking the AT, and when I am going to bed I once again feel excited for this journey and the experiences that have yet to come. Now, admittedly, we can probably chalk a lot of this confusion up to the, “Idle hands, idle mind” theory, since I am not working anymore; but who really knows? In order to to fight this uncertainty, I have been looking back to the people who have helped me this far! I owe a thank you, especially to “Goonbag”, who reminded me just how much I want to pursue this hike!

Trying to occupy my mind over the last few weeks has been harder then I ever thought it would be. I began learning more about photography, photo editing, and videography. I added a small 2 oz tripod and a small lens kit for my phone for about 3 oz. I also found out how to get some amazing photos without an expensive, and HEAVY, DSLR camera. I have spent some of the coldest days of the year experimenting with my cold weather gear and seeing how my lightweight trail-runners would hold up in the snow. Almost everyday over the last few weeks, I have been on a small trail, somewhere, enjoying the thoughts of being on the AT and letting my mind wander to far off lands. I have been pleasantly surprised with all the gear I have finalized, however, I have been very disappointed with my own physical conditioning. I have focused so much energy on working and saving money over the last several months that I have neglected my health. I find myself getting winded sooner then I use to, even a few months ago, and when this happens, I have to admit, I let my thoughts run faster then I ever could imagine back to “what if?”. On one of these recent hikes, while sitting on my pack feeling as if I am dying, I came to the conclusion that all I can do is work everyday until I leave on March 19th and try to get myself into better shape!

I have manged to find new enthusiasm from the thru-hikers that have already started their hikes of the AT this year. I find myself checking their social media accounts multiple times a day. I realize waking up every morning that I am wishing I was on the AT and wanting to start earlier every day that goes by. I try to remind myself not to rush this time by, because this time, with less responsibility, is part of the AT experience. I try to see that I have the next 9 months to enjoy the trail, and begin to practice the “delayed gratification” that I hope to learn from this experience. I have began to tackle some of the more practical obstacles leading up to this hike. I had to pay forward my car loan, figure out my car insurance situation, and finalize my move to Georgia, that I will making at the end of the month. Even only after a few days of being off work I found myself savoring this bit of responsibility. Isn’t it weird how our outlook on things that we once dreaded, can change so quickly?

I have to admit, I have been looking forward to this point for several months now. I mean what part of being off work doesn’t sound good, right? Well my last full-time shift passed on Sunday uneventfully, and I walked out of work for the last time for several months. I came home to start a new chapter of my life. This chapter of life is filled with adventure, challenges, and uncertainty I can’t think of anything else that I want to experience right now, and I continue to count down the days to the start of the walk.

40 days to go!

** (Porter, Winton. Just Passin’ Thru. Menasha Ridge Press, 2009.)

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