A Bend in the Road of Life

Trail near Unicoi Gap, GA

Having already hiked over 1000 miles of the Appalachian Trail is a definite advantage for someone planning a thru hike. Having already hiked over 1000 miles of the Appalachian Trail may prove to be a disadvantage for someone planning a thru hike. Knowing just what awaits around the next bend or up over the next ridge may bring a smile to one’s face and a pleasant memory to the mind. Knowing just what awaits around the next bend or up over the next ridge may evoke an emptiness in one’s stomach, a soreness in some body part, a reminder of the agony felt at this same place, another time…on another hike.

But isn’t that what life is like. Just when everything is moving along comfortably, we hit a bump in the road. In our memories we constantly revisit the past, sometimes wanting to repeat those wonderful events from long ago. More often than not we forget, or block out the memory of, the less than desirable occurrences that may have come before, or after, or even paralleled the good times. Still, we reminisce, we long for; we might even yearn for bygone days when we were stronger, thinner, more flexible, faster….youth.

And so it goes on the Appalachian Trail. You awaken one morning early in the hike to sunshine. Despite the fatigue in your muscles and the blister on your heal, you break camp with enthusiasm, eagerly anticipating the climb up the next mountain. The walk goes smoothly along the pine straw covered path. Birds chirp; the sunlight filters through the budding hardwoods; the crisp early spring morning is invigorating. You are hiking the AT. Then the climb begins. The sun gets higher and warmer. Sweat beads up on your forehead. You remember the blister and the soreness in your shoulders returns. You pause and look up to what seems an insurmountable task, reaching the summit of yet another mountain. You realize that you’re still in Georgia. There are 13 more states to follow and many mountains to crest. Still you walk. You reach the top; you admire the view; you try to think of a better word than “breathtaking” to describe what you see. You rest, and then you move on until the end of another day, a good day, on the Appalachian Trail.

As I hope to accomplish the task of completing a thru hike of the AT in 2013, I plan to approach the trail in 4 sections, 2 that I have already completed and 2 that I haven’t. Although not all at one time, I have already hiked from Springer to the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Wesser. This will serve as my section one. From Nantahala to Rockfish Gap, a part of the trail that I have not hiked, other than briefly around McAfee Knob, will constitute section 2. From Rockfish Gap to Hanover, NH, again trail that I have already traversed, will be section 3. Finally from Hanover to Katahdin, another section that I have not hiked, except the brief section in the Whites, will be section four.

Will I make it to Katahdin? I don’t know whether I will or not. What I do know is that I’ll give it my best shot. Maybe around the next bend a fall will await; maybe I’ll sprain an ankle, or twist a knee. Or maybe around the next bend, there will be a doe in my path with a new born fawn at her side. There may very well be both somewhere between Georgia and Maine. Either way, I’ll need to move on. Because as long as I’m moving, I’m still on my quest, hiking toward my destination or perhaps my destiny.

Categories: 2013 AT Hike Prep. | Leave a comment

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