When you think "Louisiana," hiking isn't really something that comes to mind. Typically, it's the food, people, and images of a raucous crowd on Bourbon Street that first come to mind. Hiking is a very distant afterthought when it comes to this state. I'm guessing that probably has something to do with the fact that this state is pretty, well, flat. This really puts a damper on trying to get my body physically accustomed to hiking up large mountains for six months.
However, it has helped prepare me for the "Green Tunnel" effect known to happen along the Appalachian Trail. Without the rewarding expansive views at the end of a strenuous section of trail I have come to appreciate the small moments that happen along the trail. Whether it be a small flower, interesting rock formation, or even the wind rustling through the trees above. These small happenstances are what the trail is really all about. When the sky is opening up on me and everything is soaked it is going to have to be these small moments that get me through it.
Yesterday, my good friend Ben and I drove up to Tunica Hills WMA on the Louisiana/Mississippi border. It is one of the few areas near where I live that offer some sort of elevation gain. Also, it has some pretty awesome waterfalls and rock scrambles. It was a perfect day for getting outside. We couldn't have asked for better weather. However, the trail was a little waterlogged from the previous days rain. The trails were rather slick so this gave me a chance to test out the traction on my trail runners that I will be using for the trip. Also, I was able to test out my new camera that I will be bringing. Enjoy!
Well, this morning I put in my notice at work. Things just got real.
All week I had been running scenarios through my head. What I would say, how I would say it, which one of my bosses I would talk to. Every possible delivery and outcome ran through my busy mind up until the final moment that I approached my boss. And, of course, like every other thing in life that we over think and over plan, it did not go anything like how we always imagine it to.
It instead went amazingly well beyond all expectations. All of the partners in my firm were incredibly supportive of my decision and one even mentioned that he wished he could come with me on the trail. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders now that this is out in the open.
Things are being set in motion... I am excited for the coming months and ready to take on the new challenges that await! I will leave you with something that my boss said to me during our conversation this morning that really resonated with me:
ology n, pl. a science or other branch of knowledge
The Appalachian Trail, a continuous 2189.2 mile footpath stretching through 14 states from the summit of Springer Mountain, Georgia to the top of Mount Katahdin, Maine. This year an estimated 2,500 people started from Springer and only 519 of those made it to Katahdin (only 21%). On March 16, 2015 I will start walking from Springer Mountain and attempt to be one of the select few that can call themselves a "thru hiker".
Until a few years ago, I had always just pictured the trail as really long dirt path that went northward...Then I saw this video and quickly became entranced by walking the trail end to end. The mystique and beauty of the Appalachian Mountains drew me in, but it was the culture and history of the trail that really solidified my obsession with becoming a thru hike.
Whenever I tell someone about my plans for the coming months I am usually met with a few different reactions. The most common reactions can be summed up as: "Wow. That is pretty awesome!" and "Wait, you are doing what? Why?" The former gets me pretty pumped for what is to come while the latter really makes me think about what it is I am about to get myself into. Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I about subject myself to the constant aches, pains, and days on end of being totally drenched in rain?
I have contemplated the answer to this question for the better part of a year. I have a few different answers, but one sticks out in particular. Because, it is worth it. When you have a goal in life, you will always be met with resistance. This resistance only makes you stronger as a person and better prepares you for new forms of resistance along your journey. The rain is temporary, my legs will become stronger, the trail is my journey, and my goal is Katahdin.
What started as a simple YouTube search of the "Appalachian Trail" has really snowballed into what I hope to be a life changing adventure. I am hoping to update this blog periodically with pre-trail planning and stories of what life is like on the trail. Stay tuned!