The following Ancient Chinese Proverb was sent to me last year by my good friend J.R. Ivins. Hopefully it will help people understand what someone like myself is thinking when deciding on doing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
The industrialists was angry at the fisherman for lying in the grass enjoying the day and not working. "Why are you not working, fisherman?" The fisherman answered that he had caught enough to eat that day and he didn't need to work anymore. The industrialist was irate and scolded him saying, "you could still be fishing, saving money, buying more boats, and hiring other fisherman to work for you!" The fisherman answered, "and why would i want to do that?" The industrialist answered, "So you would have time to lie in the grass and enjoy the day."
As someone who watched his grandfather spend his golden years of retirement in bed due to illness and his father die at the age of 64 before those same golden years occur I have come to realize that there is no pot of gold at the end of that RAINBOW. The past few years experiences have me realizing I need to get out and do something or some things that I can at least look back on a daily basis and say, "Look what I did!" instead of, "I could have done that but I didn't and now I can not".
The 18th of February, 2005 was my last day of work. I left that day not because my job didn't pay well (it actually paid pretty good) but it definitely wasn't fulfilling whatever it is I need in life. On March 20th I'll be leaving New Jersey, where I have lived for the past 2-3 years, to start my trip of a lifetime. From New Jersey I'll take Amtrak to Georgia where the official trip begins. That trip being a North bound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail which starts at Springer Mountain, Georgia and ends 2,174 miles later at Baxter Peak, Mt. Katahdin, Maine. The trip crosses 14 states to include Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
My only real hiking experience is from back in high school when the Royal Ambassadors from the Baptist Church in Farwell, TX (Led by J.R. Ivins!) would head out to Wheeler Peak in New Mexico for 4-5 days. A beautiful place at over 13,000 feet. I believe I have made six trips there to date. This type of distance hiking will be a new experience. I currently weigh 170 pounds but expect to be down to around 150-155 within the first sixty days of hiking. Who knows, maybe even less. I graduated High School around 140.
Upon returning hopefully I will have decided some issues. One such issue is returning to college at the age of 37. After all I did leave Texas Tech University with 120 hours to join the U.S. Army during the 1991 Gulf War. Texas State's Geography department interests me but that means throwing most of those 120 hours away to start new. I could always return to my old job but I don't see that happening. Maybe the trip will open a new door or idea to ponder.
When I return or when I can I'll post a journal of the hike with pictures either here or there will be a link here to it. Look for that sometime in September when I return. I don't see any way to update a journal until then as I will have very limited access to any computers during the trip. Hopefully no injuries, family emergencies or complete burnouts force me off the trail permanently.