The Appalachian Trail is one of the longest continuously marked footpath in the world, measuring roughly 2,180 miles in length. White painted squares called ‘blazes’ are painted on trees every 100 yards or so throughout the trail. It is pretty much impossible to get lost as long as you follow the blazes.
So what is so intriguing about the AT? Why do people attempt such a long and difficult trip knowing that only 25% make it all the way? These are questions I get asked all the time and they are tough to answer. There is something about nature that is always calling to me, beckoning me to venture out of the comfort of my home. I know, weird huh? But seriously, if I don’t go camping at least once a month, I get restless. The thing is, we are surrounded by technology that creates sensory overload; cell phones, computers, radio, TV… All of that is just too much and my brain begs for a detox! There is no better detox for the senses than a hike through nature. John Muir nailed it when he said:
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” – John Muir
When I read that quote, I was like “That is so true!” Nature does have this ability to heal, cleanse and change. For example, there are many Iraq war veterans that are hiking the AT and the Pacific Crest Trail to get over PTSD. Backpacker magazine had a great article on that topic several months ago. I see nature as God’s gift to man kind, a gift that can heal the most broken of spirits.
I decided to pursue this endeavor for many reasons. There is no one reason for me going out into the wild because the AT has a lot to offer. Some of my motives for the AT are as follows:
Gain more self confidence and inner strength by venturing out into the unknown.
Test my character by experiencing the elements, whatever they may be.
Experience the healing power of nature.
Spend some time and reflect on life.
“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty… No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening – still all is Beauty!” – John Muir