I am currently reading a book by Zach Davis, a funky thru-hiker of the 2011 season, called Appalachian Trials. Yeah, it took me about 30 pages in to stop by mind from automatically seeing 'trails' instead of 'trials'. But, for anyone looking into the trail, this guy has a very new approach to preparation. As expected, of course you want to put a lot of thought into good gear and get your body in shape, but that doesn't prepare you at all for the hardest parts of the trail. This, as I anticipate, would be the multiple mental break downs had after days spent hiking endless miles in rain, snow or heat, evading life threatening lighting storms, running across large animals beyond human control, wrapping up the 100th blister, cooking up yet another batch of chicken ramen, and the unmatched filth that one lives in for months on end. Appalachian Trials focuses on these moral downs, the most dangerous pit falls, as the most important part of preparation. Being mentally and emotionally ready for the low points is what keeps someone on the trail, according to Davis. In his book he suggests creating a series of lists to have on hand that remind you why you're on the trail, what the trail will do for you, and how you will feel if you don't complete the trail. I can see how after a long and terrible day, your perspective can be changed by reading all the reasons you wanted to do this and all the reasons you will hate yourself until the end of time if you give up. So I've taken his advice and filled out my lists, which I will review often both before and on the trail.
I am Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail because...
1. I want to revert back to a more simple lifestyle
2. I love and respect Mother Nature and want to know her better
3. I want to jump start a new life for myself
4. I want to do something that many other people are not doing
5. I want to discover who I am with out the influences I have always had around
6. I want to discover who I am in the toughest moments of my life
7. I want to meet more people like me
8. I want to disconnect from mainstream life
9. I want to challenge myself with the seemingly impossible
10. I want a real education
11. I've graduated, now is the time, might as well
12. I want to say I've done it
13. I want to be that friend or family member that people I know think of, talk about and worry for
14. I hate working in retail, at a computer desk and never want to be in the food industry
15. I need to figure out what I love most and how to do it for all of my life
16. I want to escape
17. I want to learn how to love
When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I will...
1. Think I can do damn near anything ever
2. Have bragging rights til the day I die
3. Have months and months of good stories to tell at bars, parties and social gatherings
4. Be wholly self sufficient and know that I can rely fully on myself, nature and God
5. Have a better grasp of who I am as a person
6. Have a more clear idea of what I want to do with my life
7. Have a skill set I am proud of and feel every one should have
8. Know I can live a more simple life than the modern day monster of America can handle
9. Have met a large amount of incredible people and had awesome, once in a life time experiences
If I give up on the Appalachian Trail, I will...
1. Not want to come back home and face my old life
2. Have no choice but to fall back into my old lifestyle
3. Have to settle for that old lifestyle forever
4. Experience extreme shame, grief and misery
5. Prove to myself that I am what I've always been afraid to be
6. Never want to try anything big and scary again
7. Feel I never deserve anything big and exciting again
8. Fail, fail, fail
The numbers denote no level importance and these will grow on and on, but for now, this is how they stand.