A Dream as Big as a Mountain

Image courtesy of The Associated Press

I don't remember exactly when I first heard about the Appalachian Trail, but I do remember how fascinated I was with it. If you've never heard of the A.T. - as it's more popularly referred to - let me explain. It's a marked hiking trail that starts at Mount Katahdin in Maine and ends at Springer Mountain in Georgia. The trail was completed in 1937 (although it evolves frequently) and covers almost 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Mountains through fourteen different states.

As a hiker who's been actively working on building up endurance, hiking this trail has been in the back of my mind since I first heard of it. Originally, I had planned to only hike portions of it as I wasn't in the best of shape at the time. Lately, though, my dreams have shifted to thinking that maybe one day, just maybe, I would be able to hike the entire length of it. It's been a goal for me that after Nature Girl goes to college or moves out on her own, that I would hike the A.T. My actual plan is that I'll go out and hike a few sections of it before that time, just to get a feel for it, then train before attempting the whole thing.

Why on Earth would I want to put myself through such a grueling challenge? Well, there are a few reasons:

1. I love hiking and I think, while difficult, it would be an incredibly rewarding experience for someone who loves to hike and be out in nature.
2. It would be like a reset button for me: a chance to spend a few months in my beloved nature and get away from the hectic pace of everyday life.
3. Like I did when I quit smoking and lost 100 lbs, doing something that is difficult and being successful at it is a feeling like no other. It's the greatest confidence booster and a huge sense of accomplishment.

While I might romanticize it ever-so-slightly in my mind, I make no mistake about how hard it would be to hike the entirety of the A.T. There's a strong chance that I won't finish it - after all, only one in four people will be successful in their attempt - but I'll make peace with that thought before I go.

If you don't try, you'll never know for sure what could be.

What are your dreams and goals? Let me know in the comments.


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