The Traveler Sets Forth


I was absolutely not ready to hike the Appalachian Trail.

At over 320 lbs, standing at 5’6″ tall, I was out of shape. Having never successfully camped outside overnight in my entire adult life, ( I slept in my car on my shakedown after I discovered at the time I could not fit into my sleeping bag because I was too overweight) I was supremely unqualified. Having spent most of the last ten years working in some form of tech support, and my principle hobby being cooking, I was absolutely not ready to spend days or even weeks away from civilization.

But for some reason, at the time I didn’t feel nervous. I didn’t second guess myself. I honestly didn’t feel that excited either. It just felt like the next thing to do. One day I was clocking in and sitting down at a desk with three computer monitors, a mere three days later I was disembarking a Greyhound bus and setting out for the great unknown.

Most of my gear wouldn’t survive the week. That fly fishing vest was a Walmart purchase and was left at the Top of Georgia hostel in Hiawassee. The wide brimmed blue hat was a $5 impulse buy from Amazon and turned out to be sweaty itchy cotton and was dumped in the first week at a hostel in Suches. The boots were a pro deal I was endlessly proud of and wound up getting dropped in Frankly, after only a hundred miles because it turned out they no longer fit my swelling feet. The pants were a cotton pair from Meijer, and had to be used because I simply couldn’t fit into anything else. (Quick dry hiker pants simply didn’t come in a 70 inch waist size)

I’m not sure even now why I truly wanted to do it.  It was something I’d dreamed of for years, but I don’t think I could really pinpoint for you what set that year apart from the others. But it was the beginning of one of most magnificent experiences of my life.

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