The Trials of the Trail
One night I was in a bar, playing darts. I was a few drinks in and a friend of mine said “I’ll give you three chances to throw a bullseye. If you get a bullseye, I’ll buy all your drinks in 2018. If you don’t make it…” He paused as he thought of a fitting punishment. “You have to hike the entire Appalachian Trail!” If only I’d had a fourth shot, I’m sure I would have made it. Actually, I didn’t decide to hike the AT due to a lost bar bet, but given the circumstances, it’s as believable as the true story. I’m a 55 year-old man who has never camped overnight in a tent in his life. I also run several businesses and have diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Despite all this, I didn’t lose a wager. No, this was a conscious decision. When I was growing up, my family would often take vacations to East Tennessee (Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge), or if we were passing through, we’d take a moment to stop and admire the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. One of the places in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park we frequently visited is an area known as Newfound Gap, which is on the Appalachian Trail. From a very early age, I was fascinated by the hikers I saw in the Smokies. This year I decided I wanted to do something out of the ordinary in 2018. I wanted to do something challenging and fulfilling that would test my personal limits while teaching me about myself. Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail fits that mold. My plan is to be the first person in 2018 to start the trail. I’ll be starting my hike at midnight on Jan. 1 at Springer Mountain in Georgia. I also want to be the last person to leave the trail in 2018, which has a northern terminus at Mount Katahdin in Maine. One common phrase you hear from people who have traversed the 2,200-mile trail is to “hike your own hike.” I can certainly say this hike will be “my own.” However, I also want to share it, which is why I created this website. You can come back to see weekly videos of my progress and to read my blogs that will tell my stories from the trail. I expect it will be insightful and entertaining as I face the physical and mental challenges the AT puts before those who seek to conquer it (such as sleeping overnight in a tent). While I will be undertaking this journey by myself, I hope that I can share a slice of America, as well as my soul, with the fine denizens of the internet. So keep coming back to see my progress and to see how I juggle running my businesses, managing my mental health and overcoming my complete lack of backpacking and camping experience while crossing 14 states on the eastern seaboard, all the while making this hike my own.