Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the AT, because it’s that time of the year when everyone we know is having their one year anniversary of starting their hike. Everyone is posting Facebook statuses about how they started their love affair with the AT a year ago today, using extremely emotive language, and vomiting their heart all over their keyboard. Kyle and I opted out of this sappy tradition and instead we created an extremely nostalgic movie compilation of our time on the trail… so I really have no room to judge (check it out, theres a link to it in our last post). And, although I jest about everyone’s lovey dovey facebook statuses, I understand. The AT is a life changing experience, it is impossible not to get a little teary a year, two years, even five years after completing it, because you know that such crazy, formative, life changing experiences are hard to come by. Unless, of course, you just go hike another trail.
This is also the time of the year when people start hiking the PCT, and boy do we know quite a few people who just finished the AT who are starting their PCT thruhike right about now. We are more than a little jealous. Since Kyle and I are committed to being responsible for the next two years we can only dream of what our future thruhike will be like, and we’ve even begun to think that we might as well just do the PCT and CDT back to back. We told this to my dad the other night, in passing, and he laughed, whilst looking at us like we are crazy people, and said “God you guys, what is so addicting about all this walking?” This isn’t the first time someone has asked me that, working as a bartender people ask me all the time, “And why did you go do that? What did you like about it? You want to do it again?? WHY!?!?”
There are a lot of reasons thruhiking can be addicting, all the fun people you meet, the amazing sights you see, the extreme highs and lows, how every part of normal life becomes an amazing treat, the list goes on and on. But lately I have been focused on one specific part of thruhiking: choice. Now, I’m not talking about the choice to eat the white chocolate macadamia nut cliff bar or the blueberry almond one, I’m talking about the choice to hike in the first place. As I struggle through job applications and get turned down from jobs that I want with all my heart because I don’t have the right degree or quite enough experience or any experience at all I think about how no one told me I couldn’t hike the AT. Sure people might have said what if you can’t hike the AT, but I got a notion in my head one day, and I did it. Every time I pour my heart into a cover letter for a job I can picture myself in perfectly and send it off to the organization of my dreams, only to never even hear back, the PCT is whispering in my ear, I won’t judge you based on your past experience, I won’t throw your resume in the trash because you don’t have enough volunteer hours, come hike me and I will embrace you with open arms and you will just keep walking.
When it is your choice and your choice alone to do something that makes you happy it is a very special feeling. Even if that something is only walking the freedom to choose it becomes addicting.