"Expect the Trail to test you, both physically and mentally. Know your limits, and examine your reasons for strapping on a pack and tackling the Appalachian Trail. Part of the joy of hiking the A.T. is learning to deal with and overcome its challenges, to feel resilient and self-sufficient in a wild, rough place that has few of the amenities of civilized life. Don’t underestimate the Trail’s challenges — or ignore its timeless rewards."
This is my new obsession: to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Because, of course, I grew up camping and hiking and I am at the peak of physical prowess. Oh wait...what? Is that date on the calendar correct? Oh, I'm sorry, my bad guys. Today is opposite day!
Yeah, never been camping in my life and the extent of my hiking experience was climbing Mt. Wachusett one Columbus Day weekend when I was 15 and my family went apple picking in Western Mass. But, that doesn't matter, right? The lure of the wilderness is calling me!
This all started because I watched this faux documentary about this girl who needs to escape the pressures of her reality and sets out to conquer the trail. It's called Southbounders (Southie's are people who choose the more challenging hike from Maine to Georgia).
I found myself mesmerized by the beauty she saw, the fortitude she displayed, the challenges she overcame, and the love she discovered. I found myself thinking I want to find love on the A.T., go skinny dipping in a spring in New Hampshire, hike naked in the rain, and dance on top of a mountain. I found myself crying at the end of the movie.
I felt such a deep longing to experience something so extreme that the end result is nothing short of miraculous: me finally being exactly the person I want to be. Whether it's the A.T. or jumping in a car and just driving across the country, something's gotta give.
I talked to a dear friend of mine about this and about the cross-country road trip we've been planning for years. We talked about possibly incorporating a small part of the trail into our itinerary. We talk a lot about how we both need this trip and I'm starting to think that it's getting to the point where it can no longer be in the planning stages. We. Need. This. Trip! I need to cut all my ties and never look back and let the call of the open road take me to its bosom and draw all the poison out of my soul. I need to stand on top of a mountain with the clouds so close I feel I can reach out and grab one on which to float away. I need to see the beauty of this country first hand and the beauty of its people. I need to be reminded in the goodness of mankind and the kindness of strangers. I need to escape.
I can feel the wind blowing through my hair...it's coming. To use the catch phrase of my college advisor: Make it happen. Whatever obstacle, whatever timeline, whatever deadline is in your way, there are no excuses. Figure out a way to make it happen.
Spring 2012. I will make it happen.