The Appalachian Trail, this blog, and myself

I’ve decided to start blogging again as I prepare for a long journey through the woods of Appalachia for months and months as I thru hike the Appalachian Trail.

I’ve been a camper and backpacker for many years and just like millions of other backpackers, the Appalachian Trail has always been a bucket list trail. The mystery and magic of the trail has been nibbling at me for years and this past October I finally decided to take the plunge. There are multitudes of reasons I plan to hike the trail, with a select few being:

  • After working at Great Smoky Mountains National Park last summer I find myself called back to the mountains on a near daily basis.
  • I absolutely hate the hustle and bustle of everyday life in our society.
  • I LOVE not having to look at my email, reply to text messages, or answer my cell phone.
  • I may be an Atheist but there is definitely an unknown spiritual type connection I have with the mountains and being in nature.
  • As a nature educator, I want to give myself a full crash course on being a naturalist in this part of the country.
  • Once I finish my masters degree I will have a great transitional period in my life I can take advantage of.
  • I crave wild places.
  • I crave adventure.
  • I crave the simplicity that only life in nature can give someone.
  • I don’t feel like myself unless I’m outside among the trees and birds and salamanders and squirrels and flowers and coyotes and bears and rocks….you get my drift.

I also have this feeling that I haven’t done much with my life, at least anything of consequence. I feel a lot of people my age say this about their lives, but it still bugs me to my deepest level almost everyday. I earned my undergrad in environmental policy and am nearing the end of my time as a masters student in environmental science. I am currently working as a sustainable land use planner for a stream restoration group and will be with them until about May when my project will be finished. I’ve also worked as an environmental educator with my city park district, in the Smoky Mountains and with the Boy Scouts. Let’s just say I am less than satisfied with my current job, which is my internship position that will fulfill the last requirement in my masters program. I am cooped up most of the day in an office, talking to people about a beautiful piece of land and all of it’s capabilities.  My job doesn’t require me to go out and explore the land for much of any reason, and so my site visits are often short and to the point. I’m 25 and already feel like a drone in professional society.

My three jobs as an environmental educator though have all made me extremely happy and made me feel like what I was doing was actually meaningful. After the trail I plan on getting back on track with these kinds of jobs instead of the pain of continuing to work in an office.

I plan on starting the trail at the very beginning of July in Maine with my girlfriend and not stop until I get to that magical sign in Georgia. I know hiking with your girlfriend can be a big risk, but I believe it is the best idea for me. Plus I love her, so she should be pretty decent company on the trip. I guess I can talk more about my thoughts on thru hiking with your significant other in another blog post.

I have constant thoughts of the trail; whether it’s me being impatient about starting, gear, mail drops, the concept of hiking over 2000 miles in 5-6 months, bears, boars, getting lost, etc, and I need a place to share my thoughts with someone. Even if no one ever reads my blog I will feel better just getting to type all this out. This will also give me something to do when I’m sitting at the office and need something else to think about before I kill myself due to how awful my job is.

Any comments or views will be awesome! I’ll probably feel like a minor celebrity if one of my blog posts gets 5 views.

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.”

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