I’m not sure who is more excited for my upcoming camping trip—me or my dad.
“I have an announcement and I don’t care what you say, I’m not changing my mind”.
Spoken like a true negotiator, I know. I recently announced to my family that I’ve been thinking about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail someday, and before anyone could get a word in edgewise, I added: I’m gonna do it, I don’t care what you’re gonna say to try to stop me, I’m willing to assume the risk of getting attacked by a bear, yes I realize that means no showers and dirty underwear and sleeping in the cold and being miserable, and yes I realize that I’m going to have to overcome my irrational fear of spiders and bugs. Breathe.
Surprisingly, my mom didn’t object as much as I thought she would (though part of me thinks this is because she’s dubious of my resolve to begin with and thinks the trail itself will do the talking me out of it for her). My sister just thinks I’m ridiculous and this is another one of my ploys to become more ridiculous—no surprise there. Her fiancé thinks it’s a great idea and offered to lend me some gear if I need it. And my dad immediately went searching through the house to find a book he recently read about an AT thru-hiker—no surprise there (The book is called “Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail” by Paul Stutzman. I’m just gonna warn you, as does the author—it’s very preachy at some points, but an enjoyable read about the trail and this man’s general experience nonetheless).
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I’m making plans in my head for how I am actually going to make this happen/ prepare. I joined the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) to get connected with like-goal-oriented people and found a 1 night local-ish hike of moderately strenuous terrain that is open to beginner backpackers. Baby steps. In my mind thru-hiking is somewhere in the future and I'm not exactly sure when it's feasible but I'll make it happen.
Backpacking is carrying everything you need for a hike on your own person. This includes food, cooking supplies, shelter, gear, etc. (I guess it doesn’t technically have to be a backpack, you could go satchelpacking, if you prefer, for all I care).
|My new home away from home the "Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2" - 3 pounds 2 ounces from REI|
To quote my friend when I told her I just want to pack up all of my gear and go: “what gear?”. Good point my friend, good point. My poodle shoes can only take me so far.
Enter my dad and me in REI picking out a tent, boots, and socks. We happen to have a backpack in like-new condition that one of my sister’s friends left behind during her study abroad simply because she didn’t feel like bringing it home with her—if I have the story correct. So thank you, Kelly’s friend, you saved me a couple hundo.
After our trip to REI my dad was going to see what he could round up from Maine where he thought we had a sleeping bag, mess kit and a head lamp I could use. The other day I just happened to swing by my parents house to grab something I had left there, when I noticed a bag full of other hiking gear that my dad had gathered from Maine plus a couple things that he had gone to EMS to grab. Hence, realizing that my dad is actually very excited that I’m assuming the family dream of battling it out one-on-one with the wilderness.
Here’s to hoping that I don’t freeze to death out there, startle a mama bear, get lost (the most likely scenario) or pull a Chris McCandless. And, I’ll also hope that there aren’t too many spiders because when in the business of hoping and dreaming—why not? Side rant: “reach for the stars and you might land on the moon” might be the most abstract and misleading inspirational quote for little kids ever. Let’s plaster “reach for your doctorate degree and you might get a master’s degree” all over our elementary school walls, amiright?
For me, hiking is testing your will to survive and finding strength in that. Or, hiking is willingly enduring misery which one elects to bring upon them self for no apparent reason other than for the story, or to say they did it. Not sure which camp (pun!) of thought I'm in yet. Perhaps I straddle a line that has been blurred by the nightly freezing and thawing of the very ground upon which I intend to sleep. I don't expect to find the answer to that from one overnighter, but I think it's what appeals to me most about hiking.
Any camping stories? Advice by which you think I should heed to? Do you think I'm crazy? Or, what inspirational quote would you put on the walls of your elementary school?