"It's not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." - Sir Edmund Hillary
In my last post, I explained how I found myself hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail. If you missed that, do yourself a favor and catch up here. This week, I'm describing the adventure itself while sharing a few pictures from the hike, the camp, the moments that transformed the journey. And just a teaser for you, stay tuned for next week as I extract life lessons from the trail that could serve you, too!
Our four days and three nights covering a little over 20 miles on the Appalachian Trail might seem insignificant compared to the through hikers who commit six months to hiking the full 2,200 miles. But believe me, it was long enough. Friendly reminder comparison is the thief of joy, and more importantly, the experience was nothing short of amazing — from spending quality time with friends, disconnecting from everyday life, to having profound moments of self-reflection on this literal trail of life.
The Joy of Uncertainty - If there's one thing this trip taught me, it's that sometimes ignorance is bliss. I didn't dig into too many details about the hike. Sure, I knew what to pack, but the rest was a surprise. Every step I took, every breath was a discovery. Some people thought it was strange that I didn't know exactly what part of the trail we'd be traversing or how many miles we'd cover daily. But I tell you, it was liberating. My advice? Sometimes, don't sweat the details. The more you know, the more you have to worry about, and analysis paralysis is real..
Hello, Bear Country
Imagine if I knew in advance that our campsite was smack dab in the middle of a bear sanctuary. I would have spent the entire first day fretting about the night ahead, thereby missing the joy of the hike. Instead, I found out only after seeing the freshly laminated bear warning signs scattered everywhere.
Despite a gusty, rainy night with eerie sounds of wild animals close to our tent, I survived. And I welcomed the daybreak with relief and gratitude, taking in the beauty of the forest in solitude..
Nature's Therapy Every day on the trail was a new revelation. From the silence of the pre-dawn hours and the symphony of chirping birds, to the twilight colors washing over the sky — it was nature's therapy at its finest. Not to mention the heavenly coffee brewed on the campfire! It was all worth it.
One Step at a Time The trail isn't just about the views or the camaraderie; it's about the journey — one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. Through rain or fog, deep conversations or light banter, the aim was always to keep moving. And each destination? Just a reward for the journey itself. You like my orange shoes?
Mountain Highs and Valley Lows Camping next to a vibrant creek and sleeping to the lullaby of its gurgling waters was an experience to remember. There was a fairly deep section of this creek that could easily cover my body up to my neck. I know this because I jumped in this creek twice. Natures cold plunge as refreshing on my legs and I was able to fulfill my addiction of cold water that has been part of my daily routine for the last 8 months! I will save you the photos of me in the water (hopefully there isnt photographic evidence) apologies to the campers across the creek for any trauma... I'm pretty sure they were still asleep during my dawn cold plunge.
And the next day, we faced our steepest climb yet.
But here's the thing: Climbing a mountain is no different from walking on flat ground. It's about perspective. As we climbed, we looked upward, we held our heads high, and we conquered the mountain.
The Bittersweet Ending Our final day on the trail was bittersweet. We were so close to the comfort of civilization, yet the thought of the journey ending was a tad disappointing. Meeting other hikers at the camp and hearing their stories was a reminder that the only limitations we have are the ones we impose on ourselves.
The Aftermath As I emerged from the trail, dusting the dirt off my trail shoes and getting into some comfortable clothes for the drive home, I found myself yearning for modern conveniences. The allure of a soft bed, the comfort of actual walls to protect me from bears, a hot shower, the simple joy of water without a filter– all these and more danced tantalizingly on the edge of my thoughts. But, as I thought about these pleasures, the echo of the Appalachian trail resonated strongly within me, a reminder of a different kind of comfort and fulfillment.
So, if you were to ask me, "Would you return to the Appalachian Trail?" my response would be not just a yes, but a resounding, unwavering YES! But lets wait a little while before the next trip...
In my next post, I'll be discuss some truly profound life lessons I gleaned from my time on the trail. Lessons that applicable to the broader journey we all embark on - life. The thoughts I had on the trail significantly impacted me thought process helping me attain clarity on significant life decisions. And I believe these insights will do the same for you.
Stay tuned to explore the wisdom of the Appalachian trail as I navigate the uncharted territories of my personal journey towards freedom. The lessons are many, the insights are deep, and the revelations might just surprise you!
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