There is an extremely finite amount of people who have thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. In fact, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website, only 15,524 people have actually completed 2,000+ miles thru-hikes whereas more than twice as many people have attempted the trek and for one reason or another (injury, lack of funds, loss of sanity) had to abandon the quest. What Zach and I are setting out to do is a tried and tested, proven challenge. Why are we so dead set to totally nail it?
The origins of the story are actually very simple. And there may have been wine involved…
Two years ago, sitting in my apartment, I was telling Zach about a book his mom had lent me to read: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. This book documenting Bill’s sad excuse for a thru-hike in addition to his less-than-appealing personality is probably one of the most widely read pieces of Appalachian Trail literature. They just made a movie about it starring Robert Redford (Really, Bill? You think you’re Robert Redford? Really?).
I looked at Zach and said, “We should hike the Appalachian Trail and do it one thousand times better than this asshole.”
Two years later, after borrowing a dehydrator and essentially sucking the life out of it (Sorry, Ginger!), waking up for early-bird REI yard sales, charting miles, elevation, and mail drop schedules, the Trail has come to mean a lot more to both of us. This impending 6-month adventure is not only a test to see if we can do it (because we totally can), but it’s going to be a journey for us as individuals and as a couple. People say that a thru-hike is 20% physical power and 80% mental power.
For me, the AT has become something of a symbol. It is freedom; it is a test; it is my own coming of age story.
Now it’s just something that I have to do. I’m at a turning point in my life and there’s nothing like a 6 month walk to give you time to think things out.
This is going to be an amazing experience for both of us. There are real, tangible mountains ahead to climb and conquer. It will be difficult but it will also be a time in our lives that we will never forget.
We fly to Maine on May 28th!
We’re coming for you, Katahdin.