Why Hike The Appalachian Trail?

appalachian_trail_mapWell, the Antarctic has been a blast. It’s not really helping me prepare much for the hike which is now just eight weeks away. The total extent of the hiking I’ve done on this voyage, consist of jaunts from the beach up to a penguin rookery, and back down again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Still, I wouldn’t have missed this trip for the world. In eight weeks, I’ll probably be rather more rueful about my lack of conditioning. I’ll definitely be missing the four course meals.

Let’s see, apparently it is somewhat obligatory to post my reasons for attempting the Appalachian Trail. Everyone else is doing it. So, hmm, the answer is comparatively simple. Like the mountain, I’ll be hiking the trail because it’s there. However, if that is an insufficient reason, I can also offer alternative answers including, but are not limited to the following:

Why not?

Football season is over and I have nothing better to do till next fall.

Like a Jack London protagonist, I want to reject the trappings of civilization, and sojurn with wilderness, so that I might confront the inner Animal that resides in all men.

I told Mom I was bored, and she sent me outside to play.

Oh, for Christ’s sake, it’s an adventure! A test of endurance, with the added benefit of the occasional amazing view, ‘colorful and interesting’ people to meet, and you get to poop in the woods for six months. Really, this adventure pretty much sells itself!

I know a lot of people want to hike the Trail in order to come to terms with their lives, or seek new directions, or to reflect and grow. And more power to them. Me, I’m not really looking for any of that. I am manifestly not looking to find myself. I am not seeking to reinvent myself. I have no burning desire to plumb the depths of my psyche, my soul, my being, or any other parts of my metaphysical self.

I’m pretty sure I will not discover hitherto hidden depths. I expect no blazing revelations, epiphanies, or near miraculous insights. Other than of course, the fact that people who haven’t showered in a week are rather malodorous. But then, that knowledge is neither a revelation, nor insightful. Just smelly.

So, in the end, my reasons for hiking the AT, can be summed up as:

For the challenge!

For the hell of it!

For The Horde!*

Okay, I do have one rock solid goal for this hike, and it was suggested to me by Mary. Come hell or high water, or really bad crotch chafing, I will last one more day and one more mile than Bill Bryson did in A Walk in the Woods. And I think that’s as good a goal as any.




* Obligatory World of Warcraft reference.



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