The Rest of The Story

A few months ago, I poured my little heart out describing my obsession to hike the Appalachian Trail. If you read that post, and didn’t already know it, I am a hot mess. I felt like I could write for days, but I had to stop. Even though I still had so much to say, physically and mentally I just couldn’t do it.

If you have ever wrestled with a life changing decision, you understand the agony and anxiety I have been feeling.

The constant battle within myself: Do I do the responsible adult thing and continue my everyday ordinary life, or do I leave everything behind, place all my worldly belongings on my back, and set off on the adventure of a lifetime?

Ever since writing that Blog I have been overwhelmed with lots of encouraging and supportive words from friends and family and even you, my readers.  While the outpouring of support has been encouraging and very humbling, the Debbie Downers have also made their voices heard.

What if you’re attacked by some psycho on the trail?”
“What if you meet up with a bear?”
“What if you get sick?” 
“Can you handle sleeping in a tent or a shelter for 5-6 months?”

“How can you handle going without a shower and wearing the same clothes days at a time?”
“Are you going ALONE? Aren’t you scared?”

 And my favorite….

“No Offense, but aren’t you too out of shape to hike 2000 miles?”

Here is my response to those  questions:

  • Let me first say, there have been fewer attacks that have occurred on the AT in it’s existence then happened in my hometown just this past week. Odd’s are…I’m safer in the woods.
  • I have had an encounter with a bear before.  We now have an agreement: I don’t mess with them, and they don’t mess with me. In the five years since we have made that agreement neither of us has breeched it.
  • If I get sick things will be no different then if I was at home. I will call my mother and whine and complain. That’s the agreement we have.  🙂
  • As for sleeping in my tent or shelter for 5-6 months… if you ever had the privilege to visit me in my first apartment you would quickly realize that living in a tent or shelter would be an upgrade from that living experience.
  • Wearing the same clothes each day and not showering for days…isn’t that something I already do on weekends?????
  • Yes, I would go alone. As scary as this is for me, I know that I would not totally be alone. I  would  meet others who are on the same journey. Their reasons may be different from mine, but we are all heading for the same goal. No one is totally alone on the AT unless they chose to be.

And as for my physical ability….  I will just give you the same stare I gave back in my teaching days when students asked me a stupid question:

 image

However there is one voice that is the loudest of them all. It screams and never lets up.  Who is this party pooper you ask?

See the above picture of the cute redhead.

What in the world makes me think I could attempt such a journey? I start and stop a hundred projects, I suck at making decisions, and I am not as fit as I used to be. This would just be another opportunity for people to see me fail. But I have always doubted myself. How much have I missed out on because I have spent my life telling my self, “I CAN’T”?

My visions of the Appalachian Trail are not looked at through rose colored glasses.  It will be physically hard.  It will be mentally demanding. And it will try and break my spirit.

The first time my feet get wet or I start to chafe, I am probably going to throw one of my famous redhead temper tantrums and scream. LOUD.

When my tent gets a rip, or my boot starts to tear and leak. I am probably going to throw something. HARD. (But not my shoe like Recce Witherspoon did in WILD, that would be stupid.)

When I fall and land on my face climbing on rocks, or get terrified the first night I am totally alone, I will probably cry. ALOT.

It’s NOT a vacation. It is NOT an extended holiday. It is NOT a field trip, and it is certainly NOT running from anything.

No…. It is about so much more…….

Trust  Trusting myself not to give up, even though I know the majority of the days I am going to want to. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5

Courage  Stepping out into a big and scary place all alone. Being brave enough to take the first step and the 500 million that come after it. “Be Strong and Courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Living  Refusing to continue sitting on my couch watching my Beverly Hills 90210 DVDs (don’t you dare judge me) while the world passes me by. I am not going to look back when I am 60 and say, “I wished I had done that”. “Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” James 4:14

Faith   Leaps of faith are always less scary when taken with a trusted companion. If I do this it will be just me. I have told God my whole life I trust Him. 12 years ago He called my bluff and asked me  to quit my job and move back to my hometown with no home, no job, and little cash. All I had was my faith that He would be Jehovah Jireh, my provider. I thought that was the craziest thing He asked… until now.  I NEED to be alone with Him. I NEED to be out in His glorious creation and be reminded of just how GREAT He is and how small I am. I NEED to be uncomfortable and be reminded of all I have been given.  Setting out with just Him as my only constant is what my hungry soul both craves and needs. “Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible.” Luke 1:37

All the excuses I gave before just don’t seem legit anymore.

A co-worker looked at me a few weeks ago and said the words  I knew deep down. “If you don’t hike that trail soon, you are going to burst” It totally helps if you say that with her sweet Southern accent.  🙂

That only shows me that my obsession is leaking out into my everyday life.

The sentence following this one is probably the scariest and most exciting sentence I have EVER written.

I am going to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Wow.

Did I actually just say that?

Yep, I said it.

That feels better.

 Right now  I am excited, nervous, and overwhelmed with where to start. There is gear to be bought,  decisions on a thousand things to be made, MANY trips to REI  for classes, and hours of research to be done. However, the decision TO GO  is made, and in reading Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis the first step is making your intentions public.  So this is my official announcement. I will begin my journey in March of 2018.  Now I feel totally obligated to go.  🙂

My feet my never make it to the top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine, but how am I ever going to know what I am truly capable of if I don’t try?  If ever I needed your prayers and encouragement friends, it is now.

Buckle up! This is going to be the journey of a lifetime.  You won’t want to miss out. I know I for sure don’t!

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11 thoughts on “The Rest of The Story

  1. My wife just left on sunday, and she could have written this. All of the same thoughts, questions and concerns. I am her biggest support. Everyone else thinks she is crazy. She too, likes to start things and seems to get distracted. She too, isnt sure she will ever finish. But, she sure as hell is giving it a go. Best of luck! Dream it! Do it!!!!

    Like

  2. I’m 60 .. In horrible shape !! I hike what I can .I regret deeply the years I missed following a dead end job .. I cant get them back so with that being said… Do it as soon as you can life has a way of knocking you down changing best laid plans ! Good luck to you !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kudos to you, Jess! Kudos that you have a desire to completely place yourself in the trust of our big God. My former pastor, used to say, that you are putting God on the spot. So as he is leading you to do this, he has you. HE HAS YOU. He will be with you through your journey all the way. He promised never to leave you nor forsake you.

    I believe it is great that you are taking the time to totally prepare yourself through research, and stamina, whatever is needed for this journey. I have never pursued anything like that, but God did not place that desire in me, he placed it in you.

    Psalms 91 – He will be your fortress and your refuge because you are trusting him.

    By the way, I loved this post. I love the humor you use to communicate your deepest thoughts. May God bless you richly, Jess.

    You have a cheering section here and one who will pray with you for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just one thought: Read the book (it’s not long) “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” by Stephen King. When I was in better physical shape, I often thought of walking through a segment at least of the AT. It just beckons (even now, when there’s no possibility that I’ll ever go). But this book gave me serious pause. Because I’m ‘soft’ (not just physically). I have no wilderness skills and if I got lost I’d die. I’m not saying you will have any of that happen; you are probably very well aware of what to do and what to take with you and you have the skills to make your dream a reality. Well good luck to you. Just don’t get lost out there. The woods are deep and mysterious.

    Liked by 1 person

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