Yesterday I detailed our summit of Katahdin and completion of the Appalachian Trail. I said that I’d elaborate more on my initial thoughts and emotions and asked Jett Cat to also write up a little something for everyone. Hope you enjoy this and that it helps to bring closure to an adventure that, we too, were not ready to end. Who knows, maybe this is just the beginning…
They say you hike the AT for one of two reasons: you’re either running from something or looking for something. It’s hard to pinpoint a single motive but I was badly in need of answers, so I quit my job, packed my belongings into storage, bid my friends and family adieu, and embarked on a soul-searching quest. A little walk in the woods, I told myself, would be just what I needed: plenty of time to ponder looming life decisions and a chance to get the adventure out of my system before grad school… Four months and 2185 miles later, I’ve had no profound revelations about the perfect career path, and the idea of getting the adventure out is an exercise in futility for someone with adventure in her blood. I still have my doubts about what I’m doing with my life, but I came away with so much more.
journey easier, the locals in the trail towns who just want to chat andhear your story, the day hikers and section hikers who share the passion for being outside, the friends/family/acquaintances who send love in whatever form, the lifelong friends who have shared so many experiences along the way – that is what makes the AT such an extraordinary adventure.
It is said that with America’s three longest trails, you either hike one, or you hike three. Hiking the Appalachian Trail seemed to be the natural step for me after completing the PCT and CDT. I can’t say that it was a lifelong dream of mine to hike the AT, but more of a rite of passage that I felt I needed to go through for some reason. How could I consider myself an experienced long distance hiker if I hadn’t hiked the most traveled National Scenic Trail? I feel like every trail and journey like this has something to teach those who attempt them and I was ready to learn something new. I was under no delusion and understood that my inner hermit would be challenged and drained by this trail due to its social nature, but I like challenges and knew that the social ones would greatly outweigh any physical challenge placed in front of me. After my experiences out west with little rain or humidity and epic vistas, I knew this trail would need to be about more than the scenery.
This trail may not have had the deep wilderness and solitude I’ve come to love, but it has had an impact on me that will forever influence my future paths. Trust and reliance on others has never been strong suit of mine, so hiking solo has always been my comfortable and safe place. Through the Appalachian Trail, I’ve been reminded how shared experiences and connecting with others (other than through the interwebs) can enhance an experience and make it so much more. I will always be thankful to the Appalachian Trail for reminding me of that and for bringing people like Jett Cat and the Kallins into my life. It was a much needed lesson that I needed to learn for my future adventures. The PCT taught me that I don’t want to have any “what ifs” lingering in life. The CDT taught me that I was stronger than I ever thought mentally and physically. The AT taught me that sharing experiences with others can make them even better than you imagined they could be.
So with those lessons in mind, maybe a trip to New Zealand is in the near future for me and Jett Cat…The Te Araroa Trail has been on my bucket list for a little while now…