Sunday, January 3, 2010

Living a Dream

What is the Appalachian Trail?
The Appalachian Trail (AT) is a long-distance hiking trail that stretches 2,175 miles from Springer Mountain in Northern Georgia to Mt. Katahdhin in Central Maine. Some just hike pieces of the trail on a day or a weekend (day-hikers). Others go out for several weeks at a time completing different sections of the AT (section hikers) and others attempt to hike all 2,175 miles in a single calendar year (thru-hikers).

Why hike the Appalachian Trail?

Because I wanted to; because I needed to. The answer seems simple and ungratifying to most who asked me why I would want to thru-hike the AT. Others just thought I was crazy. A thru-hiker once stated that the desire to hike the AT is something that you can feel deep within yourself, but can not find the words to express. I could not agree more.

I first heard of the AT in my early teens. My younger cousin Ryan, talked about the trail and his dreams of hiking the trail one day. I remember thinking, "sounds neat, maybe I'd like to do that to."

Time went on and I had long forgotten about the AT until I was 15 years old and went on my first official backpacking trip in Joyce Kilmer Wilderness, North Carolina. I was in love, and the thought of one day through hiking the Appalachian Trail resurfaced. The dream continued to linger on in the background of my mind as I made my way through the mandatory and mundane process of high school and college. I would announce on occasion that I would one day like to hike the AT, but had no idea when or how to tackle the planning of undergoing such a huge expedition.

It wasn't until the summer of 2006 that my dream of attempting a thru-hike of the AT began to manifest into a possible reality. A close companion of mine, Cindi, had also had a life long dream of thru-hiking the AT. She had an opportunity to move in with family in an attempt to save money for a thru-hike in 2008 and asked if I was interested. The timing was perfect. I was scheduled to be done with graduate school in the fall of 2007, so leaving in the Spring of 2008 seemed feasible. My dream was in motion.

As 2008 neared both Cindi and I were in constant conversation of our plans to thru-hike. After awhile it became very clear that neither one of us would have the money to start in 2008. So, we both decided to postpone the hike until 2009.

From March 2, 2009 - September 19, 2009 I lived out my dream. How was it? Life changing. You can read about my journey at