Ah! I’m 10 DAYS from taking my first step towards Mt. Katahdin!
That’s 10 days from checking off my most epic bucket list item I have. So how did I decide backpacking for five months was something I wanted to do before I die?
In 6th grade, my dad took my brother, sister, andI to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for spring break. Near the end of the week, when returning from a morning hike, my dad made us stop to do more hiking. (All three of us were complaining at this point because we were tired of only hiking all week. Ironic, as I’m about hiking 2190 miles.)
We hiked for only 30 minutes on what my dad called “The Appalachian Trail”. He explained that it went from Georgia to Maine and I was immediately flabbergasted and enchanted by the idea. I imagined one of these hikers being some form of crazy, super-hero esque person. In my head these people deserved the highest level of respect. That planted the seed in my head.
Fast forward seven years, and I was in Greene County, TN serving on staff for Appalachia Service Project (ASP). The Appalachian Trail runs through the county, and I took a day off hiking there. When I finished my measly 5 miles, my childhood fascination came back to the forefront of my mind as a realistic idea I could pursue.
Over the course of my time on staff with ASP in the summer of 2014 and 2015, I fell even deeper in love with the mountains, people, and culture of Appalachia. In the summer of 2016, I lived in Colorado. This affirmed my love of the outdoors, but it brought to clarity that my heart is rooted in the Appalachian mountains.
“Mid-college crisis” would be the best way to describe my ultimate decision to hike the AT. Sophomore year, my mind went on a slippery slope of valuing time in each day, in college, and in my lifetime. Thus, I decided I would hike the AT, now or never. Over the next few weeks, I learned I could graduate early. Fast forward to senior year and I couldn’t have been put in a better position: early graduation, three months off to plan, and a dream job secured with a company willing to accommodate my hike.
My heartbeats to the mountain peaks and valleys. I’m up for the challenge and experience of a lifetime. Here’s to my biggest bucket list dream yet, and living a joyous and adventurous life!