Classic question, World. Today I’m thinking a lot about what exactly the point of all of this is. People ask, sometimes aloud or sometimes with their eyes, why would I leave the comfort of my beautiful home in CT to go struggle through at least 1,000 miles of unforgiving trail? In a shocking turn of events, I DO have an answer.
This answer comes best in list-form. Do you like lists? They really quite bother me. But as my best friend says,
“Do not live life listlessly. You will not be happy, and everything will crumble.”
You are absolutely right, Katrice. So!
Reasons I’m Hiking the A.T:
- Exercise. Let’s face it, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a physically fit body out of this. Currently I’m really concerned my blood is turning to wine and, considering the fact that I’m definitely not Jesus, this is a horrible, horrible thing.
- Reprimanding the Soul-Crushing Self-Doubt of my 20’s. Please, let’s stop with the facades. Life is not fun for 20 year olds. I know you’re not having a good time ALL of the time, Girl-Who-Posts-All-Those-Happy-Photos-On-Instagram. Me? I’m having a terrible time. But that’s not going to stop me from this monster of a hike. TRIUMPH SHALL COME OR SO HELP ME GOD I WILL just give up all hope of being any semblance of a functioning human.
- Adventure. Call me Bilbo, baby.
- Backpacking/Survival Experience. And I’ve barely been camping. So, this seems like a sure-fire way to figure out how to survive in the woods.
- Es-CAH-pe. “It’s funny, it kinda looks like the word escape.”
- My FUTURE. Yeah, Jon Krakauer is my idol. I’ll admit it. And thanks, bro, you’ve started one hell of a fire in my mind. I can get PAID for going OUTSIDE and EXPLORING (and narrowly escaping death) then WRITING ABOUT IT? Sign me UP.
- Your Entertainment. It’s going to be one hell of a show, kids! And the tickets are free!
- To leave this town. I’m glad we could meet up to talk, Branford. You’re really cute and all. But I just can’t do it anymore. This whole thing we got going? It’s not working out. No, it’s not you – it’s me.
- Proving that I still have the strength to be a badass. It’s not easy. It actually takes a lot of physical and mental strength to stay this pointedly badass. Say what you will, World! This girl can do whatever she wants!
Mental preparation is a key component to thru-hiking success. The list above consists of reasons that I keep real close to my heart, and they’re going to propel me up mountains and keep me warm through freezing nights.* It’s important to know why you’re trying to accomplish any crazy feat. Which actually leads me to some heavy thoughts.
If I’m being completely honest, there’s something about this world that’s been making me question all of my motives. Every day, after waking up and reading ten pages of whatever book, I think about leaving the house until a foggy question appears in my mind:
Why do anything?
Wow. Way to get really overwhelming really quickly. But the reality is that this foggy question has been clipping my wings since I decided to skip graduation and drink a bottle of champagne near Mirror Lake with Alex. The worst part is that it isn’t a voice yelling at me. I’ve dealt with some level of depression before (haven’t we all?) and I know how to combat the drill sergeant in my head who tells me I’m not worth it. He’s an asshole and he tells LIES. But this? Ah, this is something way deeper, way sneakier, and way larger than any drill sergeant. It’s more like mustard gas coming out to murder the creative spark within, except you can’t see who threw the canister. You do not know who this war is against, just that you’re dying thinking,
“DO I have reasons to do anything?”
How to combat this…
And thus we easily end up in dark places, my friends. But these are thoughts that I’m going to pack and take with me into the woods. It’s important to wonder, and if one wanders while wondering he shall not be torn asunder.** I know I can’t be the only one hurting right now.
Accomplishing crazy feats is my way of fighting. Daily activities are hollow succor for a girl who’s been waiting twenty-three years to escape into this wild world. I’ve put off getting a job because I’m really terrified that it’s going to kill me. Schedules are scary, demoralizing things. Yet look where I’ve ended up: cowering in my room, afraid that I have no real reasons for leaving. Ever. It’s not something I’m proud to admit, but it’s very much my reality.
Then one day I woke up and said to myself,
“This is not the god damn Catalina Wine Mixer. I just want to hike the Appalachian Trail. Is that too much to ask?”
The world isn’t out there waiting for me, and it certainly doesn’t want to hear any excuses. It’s rocking and rolling and growing and yelling and sleeping and screaming and crying and laughing. And I’m only getting poorer with the passing of every mindless day.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to get up and smell the roses.
Because I WANT to.
**Bear with me here, kids.