I’ve been kicking around my response to Vol. 4. If you missed it, you can read it here.
I realized as I was walking along that I missed adding a few key pieces to why I started long haul hiking and why I’m still doing it.
Ego, Adventure, and a Little Bit of Crazy
I left out an important piece in the ego. In addition to time, money, and health when attempting to walk more than 2000 miles, I think you have to believe you can do something that most won’t or can’t do.
Thoughts like, “I’m tough enough” or “I can do this thing that most can’t” has to be part of the why. I’m not sure how that rolled into my Appalachian Trail hike, but I know it’s for sure part of why I’m walking now. I needed to prove to myself that I still have the stones to get a trail like the CDT done.
If I’d been born in an earlier era, I’d see myself moving west like Pa Ingalls or hunting for gold in the Yukon. Instead, I have the most remote wild trail in the United States for an adventure. It’s a chance to turn corners on the trail and see new sights. To walk sometimes for days at a time without seeing anyone else. To learn to trust my own ability to find my way through whatever confronts me on the trail. To have an epic adventure of a lifetime.
Possibly being a bit crazy is an essential part of attempting to hike more than 2000 miles. I don’t think I’m really crazy, but I’ve been told that by a number of people. And if I’m being honest there are times when I’m crossing a ridge in a thunderstorm or setting up camp in the dark when I do ask myself, “What are you doing out here?”
Often I go back to my lists to stabilize my thoughts and to remind myself of what I was thinking before I left for this adventure. I wrote the lists to prepare psychologically for the trail after reading Zach Davis’ book Appalachian Trials.
This attempt at a mid-life accomplishment is also about self-discovery at 50. What does run through my head as I’m walking down the trail? And in what sort of proportions? That, my friends, is where I’ll be headed with Ask the Tree Vol. 5.
For now I’m hanging in Lima with Michelle, Maggie, and a mix of other NOBO and SOBO hikers. Steak tonight and back to the trail in the morning. Going to push hard for Yellowstone (90 miles) over the next 3.5 days to be able to meet up with Michelle and Maggie again. They’re going to take a side trip to Grand Teton National Park while I’m walking before we check out the geysers together.