“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild“
I have always enjoyed hiking and I miss it tremendously.
When I was younger, we used to travel to Minnesota every summer to visit family, and my father would take scenic routes around the United States and Canada. On these detours, we’d hike on trails and camp through the back woods. We were an outdoorsy family back in the day.
Once Into the Wild hit the bookshelves, and later the movie screen, I was hooked on the idea of truly hiking…into the wild.
I had big plans to hike in Alaska with a group for three weeks. Not only because I was drawn to it from watching the movie, but because my family had lived there and I wanted to see their roots. About 7 years ago, I set out to train for this epic hiking trip. I did well for about 2 months, but soon my alcohol abuse took over, money was tight, and those dreams were shot down faster than they began.
I have regretted that everyday since then. It was such a strong desire, I almost salivate thinking about it. I know, that sounds weird, but it’s true. My voice cracks, my eyes tear up, and I get into this fever pitch imagining what it would be like.
Fast forward 7 years, and here I am. Back into recovery again, after countless attempts. Even though it is further away than it was before, this dream has not died. I still strongly desire to get out there and really explore all that nature has to offer.
Recently, I was thinking about how I was going to accomplish such a goal. I mean, this kind of hiking takes training, being in tip-top shape, a hardcore attitude, and a heavy dose of inspiration. I had none of these things starting out this time around.
Out of the blue, a friend of mine posted a status on Facebook about how she would like to hike the Appalachian Trail in three years time, and she had asked if anyone wanted to join her. I immediately messaged her with a resounding “YES! ME! ME! PICK ME!” She said “Come Along!” and we then continued to share stories about what inspired us to take on such a lofty goal. Coincidentally, one of our inspirations came from a shared love of the comedic book, A Walk in the Woods. It’s about two men, polar opposites, that come together in a hilarious adventure and hike the Appalachian Trail.
Three years time? That is a good amount of time to train I think! It will also afford us time to take courses in orienteering, food preparation and basic survival skills. I can only hope that she is still serious about this. In any case, I am. I know in three years time, I will have truly hiked somewhere special. Be it Alaska, Wyoming or the Appalachian Trail. Be it with her, or a group of fellow nature enthusiasts.
My goal throughout this entire journey is to celebrate recovery, first and foremost. I am the kind of person who cannot really do something just for the sake of it; I have to have a solid goal in mind that will be like the proverbial carrot on a string, leading me through the process.
Recovery is my carrot. Hiking is how I will get there. And Nature is my reward.
In any case, here is the entirety of the Trail below. In training thus far, I have hiked a total of 1 mile, all while smoking cigarettes. HA! Seriously. Pathetic. I know! Only, what, 2,180.5 miles to go!? But i will get there, whether I like it or not. This is happening, in some way shape or form. Even if it just be parts of the trail. I don’t mind. I just thirst for the call of nature and I want to immerse myself in its solitude and adventures.