Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Beginnings
Hello my friends, as I mentioned in a post recently I’ve begun my long preparation before hiking the Appalachian Trail starting in late February or early March of 2015. Over the next year and hopefully from time to time on the trail I will be updating you on my progress both in preparation and hopefully in miles walked. I will be writing along the way and hopefully learning and sharing some lessons on happiness along the way. ~ Rev Kane
So I’m planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail, what has possessed me to want to do this? First and fundamentally I have always had the travel bug, a thirst for adventure. Growing up and even into my twenties I didn’t have the money to travel in any significant way and certainly not in any style. But I ticked off states in my car, and eventually was well into the high 30’s. Likely because of having the desire but not necessarily the means, I wrote my first life list, (what most people now call a bucket list), in my early 20’s. As I approached my 40th birthday I felt that type of milestone required a special celebration. That year I decided to celebrate for the whole year and created a distribution list of 40 people to invite to the events. I created a fundraising event for locks of love, cut off 10 inches of my hair and raised $2000 for a local women’s shelter.
I had get togethers at race tracks in NY and CA, we did the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Fantasy Fest in Key West and for the first time I attended the Burning Man Festival.
I also completed that 50 state list I had been working on by visiting Fairbanks, Alaska.
When I turned 45 I figure I needed something even bigger than what I had done for my 40th and I decided to take 7 months off of work and push myself. Prior to that point I’d never done a multi-day hiking trip, had never been above 12,500 feet, had never done a significant cycling trip. So over those seven months I did a week long bicycling trip in Ireland with the greatest cycling company on earth, Cycle Holidays Ireland.
I then went to Scotland and did a week long hike across Scotland on the Great Glenn Way and checked off a bucket list item when I visited Loch Ness, the home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster.
I then came back stateside, made a stop in Diamond Crater State Park to unsuccessfully dig for diamonds for a few days and went to Utah. I am fortunate enough to have family with a cabin near Bryce Canyon National Park and so I moved there for 3 months. I lived a fairly idyllic existence there; my days consisted of hiking in Bryce, working around the property, reading and writing. Over those three months I wrote my first novel. A novel that was more personal catharsis than something that needs to be published but it was a healing and learning process. The journey of writing it was more important than having a publishable book to sell. My hiking in Bryce was also my training and in November of that year I headed off to Nepal and 22 days trekking in the Himalayas with a goal of reaching base camp at Mt. Everest. I wrote about that journey in my first AT Happiness post.
The important thing about what I did five years ago was that I pushed myself both physically and mentally. I was prepared, but you never know until you hit your old limits, what you can truly accomplish. One particular day in Nepal we spent seven hours on exposed trails (trails with little width and large drop offs) in the Na Valley, with huge drop offs, some 1000 feet. I don’t like heights; I’m not good on exposed trails, that day took more mental focus than anything I’ve ever done in my life. Reaching the valley floor I collapsed in exhaustion, I was completely wasted, not because the hike had physically worn me out but because my mind was fried. I rested for 30 minutes before I walked the final half mile to the tea house we were staying at, I slept well that night. That’s what the AT thru-hike is for me, an immense physical challenge without a doubt but even more an immense mental challenge. Six to seven months living in the woods, walking every day, hitting the inevitable obstacles I’ll face will be a huge stretch. But the only way we grow and move forward is to stretch ourselves and growth leads to happiness. So stretch yourself my friends and have a happy day ~ Rev Kane