Why would you want to live life vicariously through a series of blog entries, Tweets, Instagrams, Facebook posts, or YouTube videos portraying the journey and adventures of a middle-aged man, as he prepares for and attempts to “Thru-Hike” three of the most challenging long-distance hikes in the contiguous United States?
I suppose one would have to stop and ask themselves why anyone would want to attempt such an arduous challenge?
For me I guess it all goes back some 45 years to that summer vacation when my family traveled to the Smokey Mountains for the first time. It was so different then compared to today’s modern version.
I can still remember it all as if it were just yesterday – the mountainside hotel in Gatlinburg, TN, painted pale blue, complete with heated-pool and arcade game-room, the fresh smell of the mountains that just seemed to reach out beckoning you onward into the woods, day-hiking along the Pigeon River and that moment when I stepped into a small crystal-clear pool to only find myself utterly surprised, neck-deep in water, or the incredible moment when we stopped the car at a mountainside overlook, located somewhere in the National Park, and as we stood there looking over the mountain ledge at the valley below, a single Monarch butterfly just flew in from nowhere and landed on my mother’s shoulder.
There was just something incredibly stirring in the absolute newness of it all, the surreal moments of nature and beauty, even if captured and only now are memories, and how blindly easy it was to be a kid and just take it all in.
In many ways I feel as if a small part of me was left in the mountains, which at times has felt unsettled, left undone, waiting for my return. In other ways I feel an even bigger part of the mountains was left inside me, for this moment, for now, beckoning me onward, to return to the woods, to be one again not just with the Pigeon River, or the many overlooks and landscapes from my past, but with more, so much more, more of the paths and trails, the streams and rivers, the mountains and valleys – the many wonders just waiting for me to go and explore.
Many of those who have done so before me will tell you “Hike Your Hike”. For me, it’s time. It’s time for me to “Hike My Hike”, and I invite you to come along with me, to be a part of all, to virtually leave a part of yourself in the mountains, and take a part of the mountains with you.
As I paraphrased in my last post, “I (am) ready to hike. … I (want) to see what (is) out there. All over America … people (will) be dragging themselves to work, stuck in traffic jams, wreath(ing) in exhaust smoke. I (will be) going for a walk in the woods. I (am so) ready for this.”
See ya on the trail!
Note: This blog entry is “Kathyrn approved”