Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Good Life: Reflections of the AT cont.

Life is Good.  It sure as hell beats the alternative.  Staying with the theme of my last post, I want to answer  a question that most everyone asks when they find out I thru-hike the Appalachian trail.  This question is almost never the initial question but usually finds its way in line after; 1.  Why the hell would you do a thing like that? 2. Are you ok?  Are you f******* kidding me? 2,179 miles!! and right before,  Did you hunt for food?  It is the more personal question of "What was my favorite part?"

When this question is asked, the answer is often much longer and more weighted than the person ever expects.  Many people who ask these I know would never get it or understand so I sometimes simply reply to there questions with answers like "my favorite part was the White Mountain of New Hampshire" or something similar satisfy their surface deep wonder.  My favorite part of my hiking adventure was the way of life I lived and the way I lived it.  When I was living in the woods on the Appalachian Trail while walking from Georgia to Maine I was truly LIVING!.  Often times I find myself and more often others around me simply existing.  Some people simply exist; Get up, drink coffee, drive to work, punch the keys of a computer, come home, order some processed frozen food made in Mexico 8 months ago, eat twice as much as they need to, fall on the couch and watch reality television until their eyes can no longer delay the final curtain call of their eyelids.  I felt so ALIVE on the trail.  Always.  Not a day went by when my senses, body, and mind weren't overwhelmed by input from my surroundings.  It may sound stupid but I was bitterly cold more often than not and it felt good to be uncomfortable because I could FEEL it.  I felt cold all over my body and it was such a great feeling to crawl inside my sleeping bag and warm up at the end of the day.  If you think about it most of us spend all of our time in little enclosures all day with temperatures adjusted just right so we can't FEEL anything.  We drive in cars with the windows up and the temp set at 70-75 degrees.  We get to work in some building with the temperature adjusted to 70-75 degrees.  Then we come home and live in our houses with the temperature set to the same thing just so the temperature is set just right and we can't feel anything!!!  I don't want to be cold or hot all the time but it is good to be out of your comfort zone more often than we are.  When I was on the trail, I was at the mercy of the big man and the good mother.  When I woke up in the morning at 19 degrees, you can't bet your ass I didn't have a hard time waking up and getting going.  I was wide awake running around doing jumping jacks and trying to get a fire started on occasion, but man did it feel good to be alive!  I loved feeling the snowflakes land and melt on my face or the heavy mist that you could just swallow down with a deep breath.  I love being taken back and stripped of all the conveniences of modern day living and really focusing on what really mattered.  Planning for food and re-supplies was a part boomerangs and my self's daily conversation.  We ate to live which is contrary to America today where so many people live to eat and we struggle everyday to fight obesity and death and disease associated with people eating bad and unhealthy foods at extreme portions.  Another high point of the trail were the times we were fortunate enough to have service to call our friends and family.  Sometimes we wouldn't be able to speak to anyone for over a week.  This doesn't seem like a big deal to some but when you are on your own completely lost in the wilderness with only your thoughts, your thoughts always turn to them which in turn makes you long to hear their voices and encouragement.   A lesson I will not soon forget,  Do not take for granted the conveniences we have at our fingertips to be able to talk to the ones we love on a daily basis. I liked depending on the kindness of others to help us reach our goals along the way with rides into towns for resupplies, warm meals, or even in some circumstances a place to stay.  One of the greatest treasures I took away from this trip was a restored faith in human kind.  There are so many things that were my favorite part of the trail.  The answer is everything.  I lived the good life even if only for a few months.  So if you ever see me in person and ask me that question and truly want an answer I suggest getting a couple of rounds and pulling up a stool.  

Cheers to the Good Life,

Reckless, North

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reflections of the Appalachian Trail Life

Hello everyone.  Sorry for the long hiatus.  I have recently been inspired and motivated to get back on here and write a little, even if nobody is reading!  It is sometimes therapeutic just to get some thoughts out and reflect on some positive memories from the past. 

It is encroaching on the two year anniversary of boomerang and my self's departure for our Appalachian Trail thru-hike.   It seems like yesterday we were getting dropped off at Amicalola State Park, yet sometimes its almost as a deep winter fog sets in on my memory and I fiercely struggle recall the day and other days early in the adventure.  I often catch myself in an irrational panic when these memories escape me.   To cite the Disney classic Peter Pan,  the trail is my "Happy Place" and when I can't reach it physically,  I seek the memory in its stead.  I often worry that time will play its twisted role and slowly wipe these memories away from their storage places while I get caught up in the hustle of life.  I never want to forget.  I don't want to forget a single day, a single view, a single smell,  a single person, the feel of the rugged earth and snow underneath my worn and tattered soles of my shoes, the freezing rain seeping down my neck onto the warm small of my back,  the melodies of the insects at night, the songs of the birds in the morning, or the smoky smell of a campfire, or the feeling like your ready to burst at the awesomeness of the view at the top of a climb.  It makes me so thankful that God has blessed me with a set of eyes and that he felt I was worthy enough to behold the beauty he created and if I were to be struck blind tomorrow I would not for one second feel cheated in life because of the sights these eyes have seen on that trip alone.

 I went to school and earned my Master's degree in Biology which I finished after I returned from the trail in hopes of a career in the fish and/or  wildlife research and protection realm.    As most of you know jobs are extremely hard to find nowadays dangit!! and especially in this area considering the significant cuts the government has made to these departments.   I have since been blessed with a job working with the U.S. Navy.  I only say blessed because at this time, because I had student loan bills that began to trickle in right before a what would be period of financial strangulation.   To normal people in the U.S.,  I have an opportunity to work a 7 a.m. to 4 p.m job most folks would die for.  My first job out of college and I make as much money as a lot of people do who have to support their entire families.  I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and the great financial start I hope to gain from it but it really is hard to look in the mirror every morning knowing I am doing something I told myself I would never do...jump in the rat line with the so many people who go to work sit silently in a cubicle and work solely and passionless for a paycheck.   I do not ever talk about the way I feel about my work for a few reasons: 1.  Job security, there are probably a whole line of folks waiting to take my job.  2.  Its a negative subject and I HATE being negative.  I will boast of my ability to always keep my life in a really good perspective.  There are several people right here in my own town who worry about dinner and whether or not they will be able to feed their kids on daily basis!!!!  That's a terrible way for anyone to have to live!! (yet we fork out countless millions of dollars to foreign countries  who teach their children to hate and kill Americans to help them eat and rebuild homes in countries that are in some parts of the world [Haiti, and other countries located in hurricane alley] statistically proven to only be knocked down again and again by hurricanes every year!!!!! sorry that is a whole different discussion not for this blog). Lastly, 3.  I have a really good chance of being able to go home in one piece at the end of the day and have the ability to see my family.  Our brave service men and women who have so diligently and courageously fought foreign extremist after being  plucked from their life as they knew it and placed on foreign sands to defend our liberties that most of us take for granted everyday....... these soldiers do not have that luxury.    Some of them come home, Some don't, and some do missing limbs, or minds numbed and changed by a brutal war.  The reason I have the option to go to work or not to is because of these people and the people in the past who have fought and defended my freedom from those who wish to take it.  For American soldiers, All gave some-Some gave all.  It is one of the reason I was able to basically quit the real world and walk and live in the mountain for almost 5 months.  I am getting a little long winded and tangent bound so I will break for the evening, get refocused tomorrow and make this a 2 part post.  Thanks for reading and its good to be back!!!  If your not a follower, join and if you are please ask others to follow if you think its worth the read!  Thanks!

Reckless, North

p.s.  my AT thru-hike counterpart boomerang has started a blog so check it out and join if you'd like as well and get from a different view at