Thru Hiking? What? When? Why?

What? When?:

Next April I will be embarking on one of the greatest adventures of my life. I am attempting to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. For those of you who know what this means you understand its magnitude. For those of you who do not, here is some information. Every year around 2,000 hikers set out to hike the entirety of the vast appalachian trail. Out of the 2,175 miles nearly 20% give up after only 30 miles in Georgia. By the time Hikers reach Harpers Ferry in West Virginia over half have dropped out. While 2,000 start at Springer Mountain in Georgia only 300-500 finish at Baxter Peak. Roughly 4 out of 5 hikers are unable to complete their journey. These stats are for north bound thru hikers. Only 1 out of 10 thru hikers that head south bound finish their goal. You may wonder, “why is this?” I can tell you without a doubt that section hiking is one of the most difficult yet rewarding things I have ever done so I can only imagine the difficultly of a thru hike. I’ve hiked 280 miles of the Appalachian trail, 80 miles of the Florida trail and 40 miles in the Himalayan Mountains. When I reminisce on the days of old those adventure stick out like a sore thumb. Through thunder storms on bald mountains, through foot pain hardly imaginable, through swarms of unrelenting bugs, through knee pain that only the tin man can understand, to beautiful sunrises, to majestic creatures, to the hypnotizing song of birds, to unexplainable icicles that point skyward, delicious blackberries, and that rare silent moment when I see God’s glory to such an extreme it causes unknowable emotion. Hiking trips have taken their place in the forefront of my memory. However, hiking is hard, hiking is uncomfortable, and hiking is painful. So why do so many hikers quit? It’s simply really, because hiking a long distance is very difficult.

Why:   Thru hiking is the opposite of what I fear in life. Complacency, comfort, and negligence of purpose. Never do I want to find myself in a job where I simply get by for the purpose of a paycheck. I have found more joy and happiness when my possessions could fit on my back than when I had popularity, money, and lots of stuff. But to truly answer the question “why are you thru hiking the Appalachian Trail?” requires an eschatological answer. One day when our lives reach their end and all the things of earth begin to grow strangely dim, we will no longer strive for a paycheck, we will no longer seek the approval of bosses, we will no longer dream of expensive cars or large houses. We will simply strive to enjoy and experience all that God has created for us.

I’m just getting a head start on a future reality.

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