2,181 miles. It can seem like eternity or as fast as lightning, but sometimes it is what you need to clear your mind and discover who you really are. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, or any trail for that matter, takes months of training and preparation. Even then, there are many unforeseen occurrences. Some good; some bad, but I guess that is life.
On Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to hike to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. There, I read entries from the trail journal cleverly disguised inside a rock with a plaque neatly displayed on top of it. It told of the triumphs experienced by thru-hikers walking from Mount Katahdin over a 3-5 month journey. Reflecting on the awe of such an experience, I talked to other day hikers passing by.
Then, as I sat in a tree marveling at a beautiful view of mountains covered in fall foliage, I smelled a distinct smell. No, not wildflowers or a gourmet meal being cooked over an open fire, but the smell of someone arriving from Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Four thru-hikers were arriving after months on the trail, two of which had started on Independence Day. Together, we celebrated their victory as they reminisced about their journey, and the steps they would take without the white blazes to guide them.
Whether you have white, blue, or orange blazes marking a trail near your house, get out and discover the magic the trail has to offer. While you may not have the time to thru-hike a trail, section hiking bits and pieces can be equally rewarding in helping you discover who you are, and where you want to go.