We get the “why?” question a lot.
Why exactly do we want to hike the Appalachian Trial?
Why do we want to sleep on a hard surface in a tent every night?
Why do we want to go days without a shower?
Why do we want to pee and poop in the woods?
When Greg & I were living in Costa Rica, we started hiking daily. We lived in the perfect place with our own personal stair-master: the central valley at an elevation of 4700 feet had nothing but hills and mountains to hike in. There was literally no place flat around where we lived. We loved it because it was a time we could be together and brainstorm or talk about ideas (usually for our books or articles we were writing) without electronic interruptions. Also it was a great workout. We’d do it first thing in the morning BC (before coffee) and we felt good after working our bodies out. We’d come home, shower, start a pot of coffee, and then start working on our tasks for the day feeling totally refreshed and accomplished.
Not Our First Rodeo
Costa Rica was not our first time hiking. Shortly after we married in 1995, we moved to Denver, Colorado where we spent 2 years working, living, and hiking in the foothills just outside of Denver. We fell in love with being outside and one with nature.
After moving back to Dallas, I went on two hiking trips with New England Hiking Holidays (sadly, they no longer exist) – one in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and one in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. These were guided trips and we had a choice each day of doing an easy hike or a more difficult one. We’d hike all day and then spend the night at a nice inn with a lovely dinner before heading out to hike the next day. My first (and only) time of being on the Appalachian Trail and seeing a white blaze was in the White’s.
Greg & I had always known about the Appalachian Trail, and Greg had often dreamed of doing it, but I always brushed it aside as something I would never be able to do. I mean, being dirty and filthy and muddy all the time? Wearing the same thing every day and only washing it once a week? Not to mention mice and spiders and snakes and bears… It was just never worth my time to even think about it. Sure, I always admired hikers who would thru-hike[note]a “thru-hike” is an entire hike of the Appalachian Trail, all 2,189.1 miles of it, in the course of a 12 month period.[/note] the AT, but not in my wildest dreams did I think I could do it; or more precisely, that I would want to.
From Dream to Reality
After we had been hiking every day in Costa Rica for some time, we started talking about the Appalachian Trail as an actual possibility. I had some reservations at first (sound familiar?). First and foremost, I wanted to make sure I could actually hike a lot of miles at one time and not die. So we did some training, and gradually worked up to a 15 mile long hike. Here’s a 12-mile hike we did in Costa Rica up the Poas Mountain:
Since quitting our corporate jobs and moving to a foreign country, I now feel more empowered to do those things I never even entertained the thought of being able to do before. I feel more confident and adventurous. And while Greg has joked about doing the AT, he never entertained the idea of actually doing it. Also he didn’t want to do it alone and leave me for 6 months (can you blame him?).
But together, we think we stand a chance. It will be a huge challenge and adventure for us. The time in our lives is right – we still don’t have jobs or possessions tying us down. Actually, we are virtually homeless (thank you, Mom, for taking us in for a few months!). We feel (pretty much) in shape and we have no health or physical problems with our bodies right now.
We are both so excited for this adventure and live and breath it daily – from talking about gear and things that might happen on the trail to watching videos of past thru-hikers and reading books.
And the biggest indication that we really want to do this – we both dream about it! And not in the scary nightmare kind of way. We cannot WAIT for March to get here. BRING IT ON.
Happy Trails! — Jen & Greg