Reasons to hike the Appalachian Trail

I’m a grown ass man, and I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail starting March 9, 2014.

Some ask why?

‘Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your soul.  Go quietly, go alone; no harm will befall you’  -John Muir

This is in some ways a childhood dream of mine that I viewed as being on the cusp of reachable.  I grew up hiking in the White Mountains with my Family, mostly my Father.  What an influence he has been!  I started backpacking as young as 7 years old, not carrying most of the weight of course, what a punk I was.  I have always been inspired by the raw beauty of the wilderness.  The smell of the forest, the cool mountain air, the beautiful streams and waterfalls are awe inspiring.

I was 14 when I got sent away on a 2 week Outward Bound program in Maine, backpacking and canoeing, somewhere around Rangeley.  A couple years later I embarked on another Outward Bound program, this time in the humbling Colorado Rockies, for 28 days.  This was pure backpacking.  We summited some 12’s, a couple 13’s and a beautiful 14,000 ft mountain called Mt. Snowmass.  I learned to love the outdoors!  A couple years later I moved to Phoenix and have been here since (11 years now.. time flies), building the yearning to get back out into the woods, and set myself free again.  Plus, I’ve always wanted to grow a beard for 6 months.

It might be the 110 degree summers, the desert landscape, the urban environment, the fact that I am one of those people who are not in a career that they love, or just watching time pass for 11 years wondering when I will get out of AZ, but I am READY!   Everything culminated into a perfect storm, allowing me some freedom with my use of time, and I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail (as much of it as I can).

I’ve decided (like most goals I set) to write a list of why I want to accomplish this goal.  I find this an easy way to reinvigorate myself when the going gets tough, and I lose the excitement I first had.  So without further ado…

Things I am stoked about;

-BEARS!  Image

-Growing a badass beard.

-Waking up in the wilderness.

-Taking work off for 6 months (I am seriously going to do that?).

-Answering to myself, and making up my own schedule each day.

-Being in the best shape of my life.  Adventure.  Image

-Storms that scare the sh*t out of me.

-Incredible views.

-Meeting new best friends.

-Whiskey (I have heard this is a staple among hikers).

-Walking 2000 miles (not the walking part, but the ability to tell people).


-How amazing everything seems after such deprivation (food, a couch, shelter, all these simple pleasures get lost on us).


-Being back on the east coast.

-Rain (I WILL regret this, but it can go 120-160 days here in AZ without raining, I miss it).

-Hiking with my parents again (you guys are coming for part of it, like it or not).

-Hiking in the Smokey Mountains Image(“the finest mixed mesophytic forest in the world.”.. The Smokies have 1,500 types of wild flowers, a thousand varieties of shrubs, 530 mosses and lichen and 2,000 types of fungi. They are home to 130 native tree species; whereas all of Europe has 85), Shanendoahs, White Mountains.

-Experiencing the Deliverance­like creep of Hiawassee, Ga.

-I want to check out the Sunrise at Clingmans Dome.


-The half-gallon challenge.  Upon reaching (near) the halfway point, there is an ice cream store, and a challenge.  Pick your flavor and murder a 1/2 gallon of ice cream.  By this point, you have deserved it!   Image

-100 mile wilderness.

Things I am nervous about – Everything!

For an interesting post-thruhike point of view from a 2013 thru-hiker, one of the bloggers I was following this year, visit


About shwayze23jbj
Live for the outdoors

One Response to Reasons to hike the Appalachian Trail

  1. Gracie says:

    Donkey 🙂

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