Ugly Hiking the Appalachian Trail

We are getting ready to section hike the Appalachian Trail. We will leave May 4th and come back May 13th. First time. I plan on going back next year by myself and doing four to eight weeks. God willing I will continue until I finish.

I am lucky that I have the summers off but unfortunately my wife does not. More than likely all my future hikes will be solo.

I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to post stories about our hike on this website, or provide a link to a Tumblr blog. Tumblr is super easy on a phone. Or maybe nothing.

I’ve been reading and watching videos about hiking the AT as well as the PCT Trail for about 2 years now. I’ve done some local hiking, and I managed to get some gear that should see us through on this walk – and see me through on subsequent hikes although I’ll make some changes. Everybody does.

I think everybody hikes these long trails ugly. They’re difficult, and you don’t know what you’re going to run into when you start. You have to plan for weeks, months, on speculation Without Really knowing what you’re really going to need and what’s just going to be getting in the way and deadweight. For example, I decided to take trekking umbrellas, in addition to ponchos as backup, for rain protection. My theory is that it’ll be easier to hike in the rain with the umbrella. These Trucking umbrellas are more popular on the PCT because a lot of the hiking there is done in the sun. Very little hiking is in the sun on the AT. We’ll see. There’s a lot of serendipity and no small amount of chaos, on even the best planned journey.

Long-distance backpacking is the ultimate in minimalism. Almost everybody packs things they think they can’t live without only to discard them later. On the Appalachian Trail people sometimes leave hundreds of dollars worth of gear behind in hiker boxes because they realize they didn’t need it after all. I’m in the process of trying to get rid of all the excess baggage in my life. I wonder what I’ll leave behind?

The beauty is of course in the landscape, but also within the inner landscape which gathers clarity on such activites. The inner you that is suppressed with all the hubbub and nonsense we deal with in our modern world. It comes out of the shadows when you’re less distracted, and you’re less concerned with the triviality that we’re bombarded with day by day. One which is social media. Also the inner struggle that happens when you make the decision if you’re going to continue or come off the trail. I want to stay on the trail to the end. Such treks truly are The Road Less Traveled.

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