About a year and a half ago one of my friends that I have been training and running marathons with mentioned that she and her husband would like to hike the Appalachian Trail and asked if I would be interested. I said I would give it some thought.
I started doing some preliminary research and the more I learned, the more I wanted to hike the trail. Next, I approached my employer just to inquire if a leave of six months would even be possible to consider, before investing more time and heart into exploring this idea as an option. It would be possible to consider…(a lot of pieces would need to come together and nothing was promised).
So I started heavily researching the trail in all aspects, and I mean heavily.
I approached my friends who mentioned the idea and said I think I am in (contingent on getting the time off of work). I suggested we meet up for dinner to discuss this more and maybe start some basic planning. So my friends and I met for dinner. It was during this dinner that I learned we had totally different ideas. My friends wanted to hike for a week or two. I interpreted the initial proposal to “hike the Appalachian Trail” to mean the whole thing (known as a Thru-Hike). We had a good dinner and some good laughs at doing a Thru-Hike. For me, there was no going back…the idea got a hold of me and would not let go.
Over the next year, my research and planning continued, I would literally be up until 2 a.m. conducting research for months on the trail and gear. Then those hours I was sleeping, I was dreaming of the trail. I spoke with the people in my life who are important to me to get their opinions and how they would feel if I was going to attempt this. I took what they said as being supportive and also recognizing and appreciating the fact that others are making sacrifices to enable me to do this. I then submitted a formal request for leave at work and to my amazement, they gave me the time off THIS IS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN!!! I am so glad I chose where to have my career. I am so grateful for the support from family, friends and work to follow this once in a lifetime opportunity. A serious amount of factors perfectly aligned to make this happen, it is amazing and the opportunity had to be seized. Life is short, why wait to follow dreams and to truly live life.
It all started with a simple miscommunication (my bad! hahaha). At its most simple, this is a hike, one foot in front of another. However, there are also more personal and deeper reasons for taking this adventure on, that I will keep private for now.
The trail will be filled with a lot of joy, beauty and amazing interactions with people along the way. There will also be a multitude of mental and physical challenges. There will be days where life will be an emotional rollercoaster. There will be extreme dirtiness, I will be wet and shivering cold, I will bake in heat and humidity, I will be hungry, I will be lonely being away from people I care about, there will be tears and pain. This will not be easy. It will require everything I have and total focus and dedication to the cause and I am prepared to give it whatever it takes.
This adventure on the Appalachian Trail feels like it is truly a pilgrimage. I take my first footstep on the trail in early March, 2018.