She calls to me, the Appalachian Trail. The same as she did for all those years before I went to her. Now that I heeded her call and had a great adventure the call is only stronger. How does this happen? It's like I fell in love with her. Or maybe she's a Goddess of Nature and I worship her. I'm not sure if it's only her I love or if it could be the process of long distance backpacking. Maybe I could feel this way for any long trail. I'm going to find out.
I plan to hike a large section of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015. I want to go for a minimum of one month, and ideally two. I have a year to get organized and figure out how to afford this. No more running out of money during adventures. I have to plan within my budget and hopefully around my jobs. It would be nice if I could get a leave of absence instead of having to quit my jobs this time around. I wonder if I can keep health insurance somehow. My ultimate dream is to hike, write, and photograph for a living as long as my body lets me.
I love long distance hiking and epic treks. People need to quest. I think it's built into all of us, but some of us find it addictive and can't walk away. Or can't stop walking. Or something like that. Be careful getting involved in this activity. It may take over your life and change your priorities and take you where you didn't expect. It happened to me.
I have a mission now. I want to be an inspiration for those who are not traditional athletes, but who have an interest in being active outdoors. As an overweight woman I felt inferior on the trail when I compared myself to those gorgeous trail gods and goddesses in their spandex and matching clothes and muscular, thin bodies who flew by me constantly. I didn't let it stop me, though. I wasn't fastest or best at anything. I wasn't even the slowest through-hiker. I just kept on going and it changed my life. I'm not sure who or what I am yet, exactly, but I know I am happier than I was before my hike.
I want others to get outside, too. To get active and move their bodies, but not just at a gym. Outside. Engage all your senses, the heat of the sun, the tickle of the breeze, the smell of wood smoke, and the sound of a bird's feathers in the sky above you, the sun sparkling through running water. It's good for your brain and good for your psyche to move around outside.
I know some people don't get involved in outdoor activities because of the fear of ridicule. Some don't believe they really can do it. Maybe they think they should be in shape before they start having outside adventures. I say, get outdoors and you'll feel better and maybe even lose some weight or get more fit, but those aren't even the goal. Just get outside and walk, or bike, or swim, or whatever makes you move your body. I particularly hope to inspire kids and young adults to add outdoor activity to their lives.
I will return to the Appalachian Trail for a week in early March, for the annual Appalachian Trail Kickoff. I built in a three and a half day backpacking trip around the ATKO, and I can hardly stand the excitement. I'm returning to the AT, to where I left my heart when I left her. Maybe I can bring most of it back with me this time. A friend mentioned I might need my heart for the PCT, and I think she's right. Time to try to move on, or discover it's only the AT I love and maybe go build my life near her.
Thank you Smoky of Patagonia Footwear for becoming my first official sponsor. He sent me a pair of Patagonia Drifter AC trail shoes (pictured above). I'm breaking them in at work right now. It didn't take long. My feet were a little sore after the first eight hour day (over 6,000 steps at work), but never again. Today I take them hiking for the first time on Squaw Trail.
I think they will be perfect on the AT in the snow with my neoprene socks. The soles are stiff enough to minimize the movement that caused me so much pain on my through-hike. They are heavier than my Brooks Cascadias, but those are not good in sand and snow because of the thin mesh. These should be good in both, while taking longer to dry. I'll write the review when I return in mid March.
In the meantime.
Carry-On carrying on.
check out my AT blog where I'm editing, tagging, and adding pictures at http://carryonadventures.blogspot.com/