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…

Lisa Krift
3/10/2012 22:11:09

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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