This website and trail blog is a part of an independent study that I incorporated into my education at Northland College, a private, liberal arts school in Northern Wisconsin.  Another aspect of this website will be conducting interviews with other thru-hikers and trying to delve into their motivations for taking four to six months to hike a long distance trail.  I thought it only fair that if I’m going to ask people to share their stories with me, I share my story with others.  This first post will try to explain why I am hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Although this blog is about the Appalachian Trail (AT) I have to begin by saying a few words about the area of California where I am currently living.  I live in Mammoth Lakes, California; a small mountain town in Central California, which is part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  I love this section of the Eastern Sierras; it felt like coming home from a very long vacation when Missy and I got back to Mammoth Lakes.  (I lived here for about 4 years before spending the last year in Tennessee and Wisconsin).  These mountains hold a special place in my heart; they truly make me feel welcome. There are no words to describe the way these mountains look and feel.  I spent many of my childhood summers living in Appalachia, so when I first came to California, I missed the Appalachian Mountains. As I have now returned to California, after leaving for a year, I realize how good I feel in the Sierras, and how much they feel like home.  Living in the Eastern Sierras has also helped me realize why I want to hike the AT.

Since I was young, I have spent summers in the Appalachian Mountains.  The idea of hiking the AT came to me at a young age, when the view from my porch was the majestic scene of the Smoky Mountains.  I dreamt of hiking in those mountains, and hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail.  This has remained a dream of mine since I was young.  I never made time for it and always had something more immediate that I could do to take my mind off of it.  As the AT remained an unfulfilled dream, I moved to California and rediscovered my love and passion for being outdoors.

In California, I was able to work outdoors, play outdoors and generally just spend my life in the outdoors.  During this time, I realized that wherever I lived, I had to have access to outdoor activities, preferably lots of trails so I could be outside with my dogs.  While in California, I decided to end my hiatus from college and transfer to a school in Tennessee.  While exploring this area, I found that I lived twenty minutes from the Laurel Fork Gorge section of the AT.  While exploring and hiking these trails, I re-awakened my dream of thru-hiking the trail.

I look forward to meeting many people this summer and discovering why they have chosen to hike the AT.  I have my own reasons for hiking the AT.  I feel that it is now time to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine, as I have explained.  Another reason, among many others, is the escape that it gives me.  After a couple years spent in California, I got my hands on a backcountry trail map.  This map remained one of my most prized possessions during my time in the Eastern Sierras.  I spent any vacation day, as well as any of my spare time, just, hiking. The more time I spent out in the mountains the more time I wanted to spend away from town.  The more time I spent away from the day-to-day drudgery of work and bills the better I felt.  I loved the freedom that I felt from the seemingly trivial requirements of daily life.  This is why I want to spend my summer hiking 2,184.2 miles from Georgia to Maine.

            As I have packed up and moved from two houses in the past year, I have also looked forward to the simplicity of backpacking.  Things become much simpler when backpacking.  There are only two things that have to be taken care of everyday: what you’re going to eat and where you’re going to sleep.  Everything you need is in your backpack.  The only thing left is to pick up your feet, one at a time, and head up the trail…

 


Comments

Lisa Krift
03/11/2012 6:11am

Hi, Will and Missy,

What precautions will you take when you run into bad weather, like thunder and lighting? Especially at night when your hammocks are tied up under big trees?

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