Sunday, April 1, 2007

Why the A.T.?

Are you out of your mind?

Most people we meet have a hard time understanding why we're giving up jobs that we genuinely enjoy, moving out of an apartment that we love in a neighborhood that we're fond of, and digging deep into our savings... to go sleep on the ground, forsake customary hygiene, eat dried food and walk nearly a marathon each day. Then do it all over again for 4 or 5 months?

Well, the answer is difficult to pin down, but to us, there is something so deeply satisfying about living simply; waking up with the sunrise and going to bed when it gets dark. Breathing fresh air, drinking clear water from its source, seeing something beautiful, eating because we're hungry, and falling aleep at night with a glow of exhaustion. In a context like this we are truly able to distinguish between our needs and our wants which transforms into greater appreciation for everything we are blessed with.

Why the A.T.?

Living in California, we're so spoiled by the rugged and natural beauty that abounds closeby in our local San Gabriel, Santa Monica, and San Bernardino Mountains. And without question places like the Sierra Nevada of Yosemite and Kings Canyon NP, Joshua Tree NP, Anza Borrego - all of which are linked by the spectacular Pacific Crest Trail. So then from the handful of people we meet who have heard of thru-hiking or enjoy long distance hiking themselves, we often get another question: "Why the A.T.?"

Why would we want to hike a trail with less views, less wildlife, less wilderness, and less solitude, when the PCT is right here in our backyard?

Well, that answer is a bit clearer to us. Although we have a deep love for the Pacific Crest Trail and hope to hike it someday (and hopefully the Continental Divide Trail too!), it is our roots in the east coast and connection to the Appalachian Trail that made this an appealing journey.

We developed a connection with the A.T. while students at Virginia Tech, spending many weekends hiking in the area around Blacksburg. I actually surprised Lauren by arranging a candlelight dinner on Tinker Cliffs served on fine china, followed by my marriage proposal - with the help of some loyal friends. (Thanks Tim, Nathan, Dave, & Ben!)

On a logistical side, Lauren has type 1 diabetes and for our first major journey we feel the AT offers flexibility of resupply options and town stops to adjust as we figure out what works best.

From an emotional consideration, I am very into the wilderness solitude thing, but knowing Lauren's personality, I think the social aspect of the AT will be a good initiation to thru-hiking.

And from a friends and family perspective, we grew up on the east coast and haven't been back there in a while, and are looking forward to reconnecting at a few points along the way.