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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Less Than a Month

Originally Posted: 05-15-2012

I'm hoping to begin my Harpers Ferry to Maine, Harpers Ferry to Georgia thru-hike around the 8th of June and I couldn't be more excited. Life here in California, in the Santa Cruz Mountains has been absolutely wonderful the last few months and a lot of that has to do with this dream to hike the trail. This winter was one of the hardest times I can remember: a failed relationship, waning confidence and a general feeling of being lost. I remember sitting in my friend Jordan's house up in Marin County, during my lowest point in January. I started writing a list of all the things I could do with my life at that moment. I wrote down about 50 options when I finally came across the idea of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. It was a dream I have held onto since I hiked my first section of the AT as a nine year old. 

20 years ago, as a camper at Catoctin Quaker Camp, I hiked for three days on a portion of the trail from southern PA back to our camp in western MD. On that trip, I did my first 20 mile day and ever since that day I have been hooked on long distance hiking. The counselors and older campers on that trip helped me so much. They carried much of my gear and kept my hydrated and motivated through that very challenging day. Their kindness changed my life forever and sent me on my path as a mentor, outdoor educator and naturalist.

Ever since I came up with this plan to hike the AT, the world has seemed so hopeful. The excitement generated by this dream has jump started a revelatory path long before I have even set one foot on the trail. I can't wait to see what happens once I actually start walking.

Part of this joyful resurgence is also linked to a physical recovery which coincided with the decision to commit to this adventure. Two years ago, I suffered a very painful back injury which left me wondering if I would ever be able to do a long distance trip again. It was extremely disheartening to think that I would never again be able undertake the type of adventure that had brought me immense joy and inspiration in the past. In 2003 I hiked about 385 miles of the AT in VA, 2004 I hiked the northern half of the Long Trail and 2005 in I hiked about 300 miles in VA. Every one of these trips left me with a more positive outlook on life, a greater level of confidence and deeper connection with the earth. These trips also brought about a sense of hope and an appreciation for human kindness. I can't wait to see where my thoughts take me once I start the trail. I can't wait for new stories to unfold. 

The warm-up trip on the Lost Coast boosted my confidence in my back and I'm feeling strong. I can't wait to get started. Only a few more weeks.

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