Thursday, January 27, 2011
You see, this starts with a throwaway conversation that I was having at the Peace Corps office in Yerevan--well, I thought it was a throwaway conversation at the time. Grace was dating a PCV at the time who I was good friends with. I knew Grace, of course, but since we hadn't had the opportunity to interact a whole lot during pre-service training (the 2 and a half months we spent training before we actually became for-realsies volunteers) we weren't terribly close. He and she and I were all sitting in the Peace Corps office, and somehow it came up that Grace was planning on hiking the AT after service. Adam (the friend), knowing that I'm an avid hiker, turned to me and essentially said "Grace can't go on the hike alone; you're going with her."
To which I responded "sure, why not? How long is this trail?"
"From Georgia to Maine"
"Huh. Well. Alright."
To tell the truth, I didn't think much more about it. But Grace and I--due to our proximity--became very good friends over the next two years. And after a while she brought it up again and again, and so my agreement solidified into a real plan to do this. I've had my doubts over the course of the last year or so as we've talked more about it and it's come closer to reality. For a while I kept vacillating with the excuse that I didn't know if I'd be able to afford it. But then, I realized that if I was actually going to do it that I had to plan everything in my life around it, which meant looking for work and a cheap place to stay that would allow me to save the money I needed. I'm still trying to save that money, by the way, but am bound and determined to have enough to not have to drop out.
Moral of the story: don't agree to go hiking with Grace.
Friday, January 21, 2011
I'm pretty much a rookie at backpacking and hiking and saying that I am going to hike the Appalachian Trail generates a lot of eye rolling and amused condescension from family members and outdoor sports store employees. Even my dad, usually the most supportive parent in the world, took a while to come around to the idea. The first fifteen times I mentioned it to him, he'd say, "Wait....are you still talking about doing that?"
So I feel like I should give a thorough explanation of why exactly I hit on this plan. I can't remember when I first heard about the
Five months ago, I came home. I was in
That's a pretty stupid reason to do anything, but I'm still pleased that I made it, that I completed my service. At some point, I hit a runner’s high. I started to appreciate the pain and how I had to push myself to keep going. I loved that I was strong enough and I wanted to hold on to that feeling. As much as I wanted to be home, it felt like a letdown to go back to a normal life. I wanted another challenge.
During my service, I started to think about how this would be the perfect time in my life to do a long hike. I have no career, no house, no car, no pets, no children, no significant other. I'm young and in reasonably good shape. In the midst of my extended adolescence is the perfect time to be yet more unstable. My Peace Corps service was an emotional challenge, and now I want to do something that will be difficult in another way..