Extremely stoked to finally be blogging for Dusty Camel! If you're reading this, you're likely as interested in the outdoors as we are! Also, if you're reading this, and you haven't seen his documentary, As it Happens: PCT give it a watch. It's amazing. It's cemented my hopes of hiking the PCT to reality. This blog, however, is not about the PCT, it's chronicling my journey on the Appalachian Trail. I begin April of 2016 and I couldn't be more excited.
I think the best way to describe my motivations in in the form of a play. Please contact me for the rights should any person wish to perform my art.
Scene 1: Enter a young, buck teethed, moppy headed, 14 year old boy riding along skyline drive to the heights of Clingmans Dome in the back seat of his families mini-van. This boy, never hearing of the Appalachian Trail, much less knowing how close he was to it, takes the walk to the top after dismounting said mini-van in the parking lot. Besides noting the Domes stupendous beauty and fragility in regards to acid rain, he is more than pleased to hike right back down and begin in swimming pool activities on his family’s summer vacation. He had always had an interest in the outdoors, even cursing new housing developments as they tore through the forest in his home town. The young boy spied two equally scruffy headed gentlemen atop the dome eating packets of peanut butter and crackers. Taken aback by their packs, having just bought one himself in hopes of attending Pilmont Scout Ranch someday, he approaches them inquiring to their ambitions. Why would they bring a pack full of gear all the way to the top only to take it down again? The two gentlemen reveal themselves to be thru hikers of the Appalachian Trail, a 2000 plus mile long hiking trail.
Hiker 1: Crunching mouthfuls of crackers in between sentences Of course! We're thru hikers my boy! We're just sitting down for a quick lunch break, taking in Clingmans while we're at it.
Young Boy: What do you mean?
Hiker 2: We're thru hiking the Appalachian Trail; have you heard of it?
Young Boy: Like the mountains?
Hiker 1: It's a hiking trail over 2000 miles long. We start in Georgia and end in Maine, so far, we're almost half way.
Hiker 2: Half way's still a long way to Khatadin though.
Young Boy: Taken aback. You mean you're just hiking? How much does it cost? Where do you get food? What about showers? Are there bears there? Goes on with numerous other questions.
Hiker 2: Answers all questions, again with peanut butter induced pauses and finally, When are you going to do it?
Hiker 1: Yeah man! Find out for yourself it's the adventure of a lifetime….
Young Boy: He came back with a common response. I don’t know if I’ll have time, that seems like a huge commitment.
Hiker 2: Dude, make time, life’s what you make it. If you want to do something do it, don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do, life’s an adventure.
Upon the realization that the young boy could just go and hike the AT, under his own accord, He went into a dream state as a piece of cracker whizzed past his head. As heard the two hikers say cliché things such as, "life is what you make it" or "life's an adventure", but he wasn't acknowledging them he kept day dreaming. He really took those phrases to heart. Discovering adventure is as close as you make it inspired the young boy. So much had he taken away from the short exchange with the two oddly smelling hikers that later in the GSMNP gift shop, he purchased a full Appalachian Trail map. Upon returning home, he pins it to his wall and it becomes the focus of his life plans, telling everyone, he will one day thru hike the Appalachian trail.
Long story short, I was inspired by these thru hikers when on family vacation. Surprise, I was the young boy in the yarn I spun you folks. These two kind, nameless men will forever sit in my memory as the two who drop forged a dream, a passion, something to work towards in my life. I still hold that passion. Upon graduating college, I accepted a position as a light technician for an ice rink onboard a cruise ship, hence the script above ^^. I took this position as an excuse to use the education I paid so much to obtain and as a cool seven month lull between graduation and the trail. Majoring in theater production and obtaining an environmental studies certificate, I still don't know what I want to do. My life as of now consists of opening and closing doors with one thing certain, the Appalachian trail.
I do have prior hiking experience. Born a cub scout, I reached my Eagle Scout shortly before my 18th birthday, I 'm a procrastinator ok…. For those unaware, boy scouts can only be boys for so long. Once you turn 18, you're an adult, no longer able to obtain the highest rank in scouts, Eagle. Anyway, drawing off of my experiences in Boy scouts of America, I began to go out on my own trips with friends. Learning form my own mistakes, I became a fairly competent outdoorsman. I still have loads of things to learn before I complete my triple crown. Also, I want my triple crown, Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and of course, the Appalachian Trail. I'm not an ABC hiker, I just enjoy the outdoors. Working on the ship doesn’t hurt either, I've been here two months and I've yet to set foot on to anything other than beaches and see anything short of imported palm trees.
Thanks for reading! Tune in next time for my own insider secrets to life onboard cruise ships!