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  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampie View Post
    If you can't justify, in your mind, to do a thru-hike or not. How do you expect to deal with the 100s of daily decisions that you will have to make while on the trail?
    Exactly. +1 Wavering wishy washy undecided double minded thinking doesn't cut it achieving any goal. And, make no mistake about it completing a thru hike is a goal.

  2. #62
    GA-ME Feb. 27th–July 1st, 2016 lwhikerchris's Avatar
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    Replace justification with reason and you'll have your answer. If you want to complete a thru, you'll need a reason to keep you motivated.

  3. #63
    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldielocks View Post
    I feel the need to justify to myself that taking off from life for 6 months to thru hike the AT is an acceptable choice.
    I haven't read the entire thread, but this question brought instantly to mind a sentiment that Colin Fletcher expressed in an interview.

    I will paraphrase the question and his response:

    Interviewer: How do you answer people who accuse you of "escaping reality and the real world" by going out on your extended hikes?

    Colin's response: For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people continue to assume that living in the woods, with trees and rocks and dirt, while getting your water from a cold mountain stream and waking up with the sun and the birds is less real than living in a box, with plastic furniture and pictures of the mountains on the wall, with nylon carpeting on the floor and getting your water laced with chemicals that comes out of a faucet. Why is going to work every day, so that for two weeks you can afford to go out into the woods more real than just living in the woods?

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyle View Post
    Colin's response: For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people continue to assume that living in the woods, with trees and rocks and dirt, while getting your water from a cold mountain stream and waking up with the sun and the birds is less real than living in a box, with plastic furniture and pictures of the mountains on the wall, with nylon carpeting on the floor and getting your water laced with chemicals that comes out of a faucet. Why is going to work every day, so that for two weeks you can afford to go out into the woods more real than just living in the woods?
    Thanks for the information. Very accurate insight from Fletcher.
    I think more of what I'm concerned with is deciding between the benefits of continuing to pursue my career or jumping at the opportunity to attempt a thru hike NOW. I currently have minimal expenses, no kids, no spouse - I do not believe that I will ever have a more opportune time.

    I suppose at the end of the day, every choice has consequences regardless what your decision made be.

  5. #65
    GA-ME Feb. 27th–July 1st, 2016 lwhikerchris's Avatar
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    Many people find the best time to take a thru hike is at a transitional time in their life. You sound like you are approaching that time or are in it now. You will come out the other side knowing exactly what you want out of life, and probably what you were meant to do.

  6. #66
    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    Well, put it this way. I, personally, have never met anyone who regretted their decision after completing a thru hike. I'm not saying that person doesn't exist, but in close to 40 years being very involved with hiking and hikers, I have never met one.

  7. #67

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    Its your life to lead as you see fit. No other justifation needed. Just do it.

  8. #68

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    To whom are you justifying this? If you have to explain this to people they may not understand it, so it likely becomes an exercise in futility and exposing oneself to unnecessary (or uninformed) opinions.

    If to yourself, revisiting why you want to do this in the first place may be in order.

  9. #69
    Registered User DryFlyHiker's Avatar
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    I too have been thinking about why it is that I want to thru-hike the AT. As I read other thru-hiker’s accounts they often touch on their reasons. Some are at a cross road in their lives, recently graduated, laid-off, divorced, experiencing a mid-life crisis, or recently retired. All of them have the 5 to 6 months to dedicate to the endeavor.
    A lot of hikers talk about wanting to prove something to themselves or others. Do they have the physical and mental fortitude to complete the AT? Those voicing those motives tend to be young and just starting out on their life’s journey. I, on the other hand, am well down that road.
    Is it because it is such a big challenge and will be so hard, especially for someone that will be 62 when I start, that makes it attractive? Historically, more than half the successful thru-hikers are in their 20s. Only about 500 out of the 15,500+ successful thru-hikers were in their 60s. I don’t think I have the same desire to prove myself amongst my peers. But am I trying to prove something to myself?
    I remember when I was hiking sections of the AT years ago. There was a profound satisfaction with the total immersion of the journey. The bird songs, open fields of wild flowers, rocky crags, walking the trails, the smell of the woods, swimming in mountain pools so cold that you couldn’t breathe, and waking up to quiet, misty mornings. Is that what is driving me, to relive those distant cherished memories?
    Myron Avery, one of the men credited with getting the trail established, famously described the 14-state footpath as “remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation.” After 40 years of long hours, missed family events, frenetic projects, office politics, personal success and failure, bad bosses, and so on am I just seeking a way to cleanse my mind and body of some sort of imaged contaminant?
    Whatever the reason, is it worth the hardship I will inflict on myself and my family? I don’t know. I guess I am going to have to keep looking for my reason.

  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldielocks View Post
    ... I currently have minimal expenses, no kids, no spouse - I do not believe that I will ever have a more opportune time.
    This.... You just listed the three reasons I can not do a thru hike right now. I have the health. I have the gear. I have the money. With a spouse and two young kids, even weekends become something I must plan well in advance and leaving two young children with my wife, although she is more than capable of taking care of them, is something I try to limit. If you have no one depending on you right now, minimal expenses and the ability to go, you should drive to the trailhead today. I'm 43 and should have done it 20 years ago. Now, I may have to wait many more before I am able.

    Just go!

  11. #71
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    I just do it because I feel like going for a long walk

  12. #72
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    My justification or reason for a long hike revolves around the fact that I've set a goal for myself to achieve -- hike from this place to that place. But the thing is, that particular goal isn't the point, or the reward, of the hike. The reward is What It Will Make of Me to Achieve it. Even if I don't achieve the primary goal of making it from point A to point B, I gain so much just from having set it as a goal and working toward it.

    I attempted a SOBO thru in 2014, which ended pathetically after only a couple of days, but even though that goal was not achieved, I consider all of the things that I gained in the attempt:

    * In my research and preparations for the trip, I learned a lot about the history and geography of the trail and the states it travels through.

    * I had to learn and practice some planning & logistics far different than planning any other type of vacation or travel I've ever done before.

    * I learned A LOT about how my body has changed over the years, and how I can improve my strength and endurance. My personal fitness is better than it was when I was in my 30's, and because this hiking bug feels like a permanent affliction, I think I'll enjoy most of the rest of my life stronger and healthier than a lot of other people I know.

    * I practiced and improved my outdoor skills, and learned a lot more.

    * Taking conditioning hikes or 3-5 day shakedown trips got me outside and into the woods, where I find my peace. I wouldn't have done that as much otherwise...there would always have been other things in the way.

    * I met a lot of wonderful people -- even in that very short time -- that reaffirmed (and maybe restored) my belief that people everywhere are basically good, decent, nice, and endlessly interesting. I was brought out of the bubble that we can all find ourselves stuck in.

    There is more...and undoubtedly a lot more than I even recognize, but you can get my point. In the end, it's not about the hike -- whether it's a thru hike or just a 2-week section somewhere -- it's about what it will make of me to achieve it.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  13. #73
    Registered User AlyontheAT2016's Avatar
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    Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?
    AT '16: 1,378 miles GA-NY

    trail journal
    // blog

  14. #74
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    I'm on a similar timeframe, but for different reasons.
    My wife needs a kidney transplant. With any luck that will happen in the next several months. Then it's about a year for things to normalize. I've been thinking about the AT since I was ten years old (an older cousin who was a high school teacher used to hike sections every summer, asked me if I'd like to go, but never took me.) I hiked a bit at summer camp on the edge of Pisgah National Forest and loved it. As a youngster (pre-30) I read every article I came across and dreamed of what it would be like to thru-hike the AT. It's always been lurking in the back of my mind and then, this summer, one of my son's college friends did a NOBO hike and it was in my face like it hasn't been in years.

    So I've been reading and researching, even outlining plans, checking out equipment, and soaking up everything I can. My wife is interested in doing some sections (after transplant, of course) and in the meantime wants to do some easy day hikes (just a couple of miles, minimal elevation changes.) The other night she even told me to just "go ahead and do it" but (1) I'm not ready physically. (2) No way would I consider leaving her at home until things are "normal." (3) I enjoy the "academic" aspects of preparation and am quite content with the current state of affairs. (She thinks she's keeping me from chasing the dream.)

    Mentally, I can use some boredom. Dealing with kidney failure and the litany of doctors it involves over a period of 12+ years is exhausting. The rote activity of get up, pack up, walk (up and down), set up, sleep, repeat, sounds refreshing.

    For now, I deal with rain and heat with a smile. I park further from the door of stores, I carry more, I don't worry about waiting until late afternoon to mow the lawn (and I use a push-mower instead of a riding mower these days.)

    It's taken me this long to get this far, another 2-3 years to stand on Springer and look north is negligible. I hope I can get ready that quickly!
    I'm a walker, plain and simple.

  15. #75
    Registered User DownEaster's Avatar
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    Here's my justification: I've lived frugally so I can enjoy my retirement. Hiking the AT is a big part of how I'll reach for the joy.

  16. #76

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    Sounds like you need a "walkabout" or you would not have posted.

    So do a walkabout. Personally I would not commit to a thru hike, because if you start to hate it really you should quit rather than stomping on in miserable resignation.

  17. #77
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    I find that when life seems like it's going by too fast that's because I'm stuck in a routine... doing something new and/or challenging is a good way to break that routine and slow things down again. Thru-hikes are a perfect way to shake things up and reflect

  18. #78
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    Today I was just reflecting on an interesting conversation with one of my students about this topic, although it was justifying my overseas lifestyle and not thru-hiking. I teach English in Morocco, and one of my students is this Senegalese guy who asked my why on earth I was working in Casablanca for a fraction of what I could make in the United States, especially since it meant being far from my family. He told me, "People should only leave their family when they must. I left my family in Senegal because I could find a better job in Morocco and provide for them. But you are from America, where you could be rich. You are being irresponsible by coming here."

    I explained that I was lucky enough to be debt-free since I went to school on scholarships and part-time jobs, and my Moroccan salary adequately covered my expenses, and I'm saving a bit. I'm single and my parents and siblings are financially stable enough that they don't need extra support from me. So I think my experience in Morocco is valuable and justified, even though it isn't as lucrative as working in the U.S. (not that teaching was going to make me rich in the States, haha).

    He listened thoughtfully to my explanation, then shook his head and said, "You should always make as much money as you can. You never know what your family will need. Even if you don't need it now, you might in the future. And you are too far from your family and your country. You will have your own children someday. If you care about them, you will try your best to earn money and find a husband now."

    If it had been another American telling me to find a husband, I might have been offended, but he was so matter-of-fact instead of patronizing, that it was clear that we were just too culturally different to see eye to eye on the matter. I definitely didn't share with him my plans for April 2018... if he thinks my salary /now/ is irresponsible, he didn't need to know I'm planning to walk through the forest for five months!

    I guess my point of sharing the story is not everyone will think that your choices are justifiable, and in some cases your perspective will be so different that arguing won't be helpful. What is valuable to one person will always be frivolous to another. If you think the missed income and career pause are justifiable, then they are. And that's enough.

  19. #79
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    There is no justification. Thru-hiking the AT is selfish.

  20. #80
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    I'm quitting my job to do the AT. As for why, it's because I freaking want to. It's an adventure, it's awesome, and I'm going to do it.

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