Some may call it spring fever, but for me, it's trail fever. Tomorrow, March 4th, marks eight years since Will and I began our thru-hike attempt of the Appalachian Trail. As soon as the weather shows the slightest hint of improvement and the birds start singing in the morning, trail fever strikes again and I can't shake the feeling that I need to get out into the woods. I need to walk through the trees, soak up the silence, and enjoy the view. I need to remember the good days and the bad, the beautiful weather and the miserable, the sun-soaked overlooks and the fogged-in. I need to remember our friends, our evenings around the campfire, our conversations. I need to be reminded that I once lived for 68 days with only the things I could carry on my back.
It's difficult to do that these days with two kids in tow, but regardless of the noise factor or the pace of the walk or the length of time spent soaking up the scenery, getting out into the trees is necessary. Now that basketball is over, we'll be spending next Saturday hiking. I can't wait.
Our walk along the Appalachian Trail was so many things wrapped up in one. Although the most obvious aspect of long-distance hiking is the physical challenge, the emotional and spiritual demands were, for me, just as great. Waking up in a shelter in the middle of nowhere with knees that don't want to bend, a pack that feels too heavy, and 15 miles of mountains to walk not only up, but even worse, down, requires some mental and emotional get-up-and-go...literally. But when you love what you're doing and feel incredibly blessed to be following a six-inch path through the woods, it's easy to push those things aside, stretch any aching muscles, hoist that heavy pack, and look forward to whatever will come your way...even if it's 20 miles through the pouring rain and not a view to be had through the fog.
Honestly, I have a really hard time putting our experience into words. I learned so many lessons, experienced so many challenges and achievements...but all of it was incredibly personal to me. So instead of rambling on about things that probably wouldn't make sense to you anyway (unless you've done some long-distance hiking yourself), I'll just show you.
For more tales from the trail, look here, here, here, and here.