A blog dedicated to getting the most out of your backpacking trips and all your outdoor adventures
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,
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