Written by: Emily Ginger
I have lived in a city my entire life and I'm about to spend the next five months living in the woods. I have many thoughts and emotions about my approaching adventure.
I feel grateful for this opportunity to change the pace of the life I've led so far and hope to gain a new perspective on alternative ways to live one's life. I'm especially eager to push myself physically and I'm trying to prepare myself mentally. At the same time, I'm sad to be spending so much time away from friends and loved ones and holidays and sushi and city festivals....... Most notably, I feel nervous and scared for when reality kicks in. Right now, while sitting in my Chicago apartment surrounded by a familiar and comfortable environment, it is easy to envision my hike as an enjoyable, successful, and worthwhile experience. However, it is nearly impossible to imagine what it will actually feel like when I am out there on the trail and stripped of my everyday comforts. I’m scared because I don’t know what I’ll be thinking or how I will react when I’m in the thick of it: when the weather has been pouring rain for days, when there are bug bites all over my body, when there is dirt in and on everything, when all the muscles in my body are sore, and when my back hurts from sleeping on the ground and lugging a 40 lb. pack on my back all day. Will my body endure? Will I be able to tolerate insatiable hunger brought on by massive amounts of physical exertion? Will I fantasize about being at home in my comfy bed where it is warm and dry? Will I yearn for the conveniences I currently take for granted: toilets, showers, refrigerators, 24 hr grocery stores, and public transportation options? I don’t know if I will be able to conquer this feat while keeping my happiness, sanity, and wits about me. However, I feel very confident in my abilities and will-power so I won’t let a little ambiguity stop me from trying. I look forward to the feeling of triumph if I can beat the odds by finishing.
Over the past few months, there is one question I have been asking myself and consequently contemplating, Why do I think that I have the ability and a good chance of completing the entirety of the Appalachian Trail?
I believe I have several advantages and motivations propelling me towards my goal of completing this hike. For one thing, I have had a lifelong desire to live like Native Americans once did- entirely off the land. Since my early teen years I’ve dreamt of the thrills I would have been privy to if I were alive 200 years ago and alongside Lewis & Clark as they explored the unknown wilderness that lay west of the Mississippi River. Also, I dislike the media influence on society and would like to get a break from it! I’m not a fan of the materialistic society we are, and I hope that by being stripped of my “things” I will gain a better appreciation for those “things,” and take greater pleasure in the simple aspects of life. And I think there is something to be said for the fact that I am in my mid-twenties and I have been a strong athlete and competitor my whole life. Frankly, I DO NOT LIKE TO LOSE! But, the most compelling reason for me to do this is that I try not to have regrets for how I live my life. Considering we only have one life to live, I don’t see any room for regrets. In fact, when I was 17 years old I made a promise to myself that I would live my life to the fullest through taking on challenges, exposing myself to different cultures, by following my passions, exploring foreign environments, and truly taking advantage of my independence and youth while I have it. When I am looking back on my life as an older woman, I don’t want to regret not having “lived.” Therefore, as a favor to my 50-year-old self who might be bogged down by a house, a couple mortgages, a husband, kids, bills, etc, I will take advantage of my youth, health, strength, and independence while I can. I know I won't regret taking time out of my life to participate in something so full of potential.
Appalachian Trail, whether I’m ready or not… here I come!