It’s probably been 20 years since I watched a documentary on public television about thru-hiking The Appalachian Trail. It aired as part of one of those telethons they do to raise money for the station. It was 7 or 10 episodes throughout the day, and I sat there totally enthralled by every minute of it. Since then, the thought of doing a thru-hike has danced around inside my head.
A few years back, my wife and I wound up at Amicalola Falls. Here there is an approach trail leading you to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of The Appalachian Trail. Again, my thru-hike fantasy was stirred up, it subsided, but it’s still there. It’s always been there since I watched that documentary.
Many hikers start their thru-hike in Georgia in late February to early March. The reason being, winters are milder in Georgia, and as you travel northbound on the trail for months, the summer temperatures become mild. Here recently, on Youtube, my feed has been flooded with hikers starting their thru-hike, and that insatiable itch is returning. This time it seems worse than years prior. It feels like it’s deep in my bones, clawing at me from the inside, wanting to get out, kind of like that scene in Alien, where you first see it burst from that dude’s stomach. Yeah, that’s how it feels.
I’m sure a thru-hike of the AT is in my future. When? Who knows? I have a lot of the gear already. Time is the biggest piece of gear I need to do this. Like everything though, I think I’ll figure it out. Sometimes you must walk away from somethings to pursue the things that’ll continue your growth. The way this thing has been stuck in my head over the years is making me realize it has to happen. I’m also beginning to think it might just be that thing in my life that takes me to that point, that fills that empty spot that many of us feel somewhere inside ourselves, that thing that will evolve me into a totally different person. If you’ve thru-hiked the AT, I would like to hear about your experience. What did it change in you? Maybe soon enough, I will be able to recount my own story.