Jeff's Appalachian Adventure
Last year I had the backpacking adventure of a lifetime on the Appalachian Trail. In April 2018, I began a continuous hike up the Eastern Seaboard, traveling ~2,200 miles from Springer Mountain, GA, to Mt Katahdin, ME.
While the Appalachian Mountains formed some 480 million years ago, the Appalachian Trail was created in 1937 in order to encourage citizens to commune with nature. "The People's Path" is still the longest hiking-only trail in the world.
My mother's passing in 2017 inspired me to reflect on all the choices I'd made in my life, and I realized I needed to shake things up. I chose to start a half-year thru-hike as a catalyst towards changing other aspects of my life.
Preparation for the hike involved many logistics, but more importantly it required a complete mental and spiritual overhaul. I met with therapists and counselors to map out the emotional work, and I established a strong support network of friends and family to help me when things got tough.
Backpacking day in and day out is very challenging. There were plenty of times when I wanted to quit the trail altogether and go back home. But I had loved ones cheering me on, and I met amazing people on the trail that kept my spirits up. And being in the woods was a beautiful experience, so the grace of nature also spurred me on down the trail.
The Appalachian Trail provided so many unexpected gifts, including new routines outside of the connected world, and better understanding of my physical and mental capabilities. Mostly I learned how to follow my heart into new adventures. The key takeaways were to never quit on your worst day, and to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
In 2018, 5,000 plus people set out to hike the entire AT. However, less than a quarter completed it. I feel very blessed to have been successful on this journey.