There are a handful of common reasons that folks take time away from “real life” to backpack on the Appalachian Trail (AT). It is often a “time between”—during a significant life transition. There is usually an element of adventure and a desire to spend time enjoying nature. Many non-hikers consider this to be a very outside-the-box idea. It’s reassuring to know that our reasons for taking this trip are actually COMMON among fellow adventurers!
We both fit the profile of being at a crossroads in life: I went back to university a few years ago and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in May, 37 years after my first college class. My daughter is transitioning back to being homeschooled (common for our kids) after a few years in public middle school. We are also at a decision-point as a family, trying to figure out “what’s next” including where to live and what work hubby and I want to pursue in this final decade before retirement.
And, yes, both daughter and I thrive on new adventures and on spending time in nature. We have spent time pondering WHY we want to take on this challenge. Here are a few of our thoughts:
WHY are you running away from something? What are you trying to escape? I worried about this question for a while. If I’m always running, I will never really work through struggles in life. But I’ve realized this is a case of running TOWARD: reaching for the next “big epic” in my life and finally attempting something I have read about and dreamed of since I was in high school many decades ago.
“Some folks think I’m crazy…some folks think I’m brave. Doesn’t really matter to me, it’s the EPIC that I crave!”
WHY two months rather than two days or two weeks? Because that’s how much time hubby offered me! *chuckle* But also because eight weeks is enough time to develop new habits of exercise and eating. And because it is long enough to be a true break in routine, a chance to step out of “real life” for an extended time to consider what I want to keep and what I want to eliminate once we get back home.
WHY go to the woods? What’s compelling about the Appalachian Trail? As I said above, both daughter and I enjoy time in nature. We anticipate the joys (and challenges) of living in a tent and walking in the woods. Daughter also spends time every day sketching and drawing. She wants to improve her skills in nature drawing…and this will give her plenty of scenery to practice on. Beyond fulfilling a dream, the AT is only a day’s drive away from our home. With 2185 miles to cover, it is long enough to keep us busy for many trips to come!
WHY isolate yourselves? Won’t you need social time since you are both extroverts? Although we will have plenty of time with no one near us, there are hundreds (thousands?) of hikers on the Appalachian Trail at any given time. We will likely stop each evening in the company of others at a shelter or a campsite. In addition, we will spend an overnight in town every week to resupply food and stove fuel. Daughter looks forward to the alone times in nature as a daily stress reliever while looking forward to time with others as a chance to practice reading social cues. I see this as an opportunity to practice living in the moment while meeting interesting people and hearing their stories.