Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail has always been an adventure for me. Mountain top experiences, beautiful scenery, meeting interesting people, and spending time with friends.
However, there is a price to pay. Preparation involves days, at least for me, and the soreness from blisters, lost toenails, and aching muscles and knees makes this an adventure with possible fun components. Note this is NOT primarily fun, with a few challenging components, but possible fun.😄
Why, besides the occasional fun examples above would one put themselves through this? Rarely if ever are my weaknesses exposed unless their is some accompanying duress. A much used acrostic to describe bad times to discuss important issues with a spouse to bring out the worst in them is H-A-L-T: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. I encounter all of these on the trail and add a very relevant S to the group, soreness!
More is learned about myself on the trail in a few days than the entire remainder of the year. Whining, blaming, pouting, and pity partying are drawn out in abundance. The best that can be said, is that the frequency and duration of each of these respective weaknesses seems to be getting better as I mature in managing my emotions.
Life’s journey is all about choosing growth and living a life that matters. Backpacking at this intense level (~16-20 miles/day) is an environment for me very conducive to accomplishing that.
Is it all worth it? During this season of life, it is! Each year about half way through the trip, I’m vowing to not return. The short term perspective smooths out when looking at the overall experience for all of the good reasons mentioned above. The self-inflicted duress is labeled post-ecstatic growth (https://annmarieroepke.com/research/) closely related to grit or the perseverance necessary to complete what you started (Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance).
- Taking time off work – about a week
- Trip preparation – days
- Financial – Hundreds of dollars
- Physical & mental duress – high
Spending time with friends, revealing your weaknesses and seeing how much grit you have to achieve a high level of post-ecstatic growth – PRICELESS!
What is your adventure that stretches you out of the comfort zone and into becoming the person you were destined to be?
For Dan’s weekly video blog on living a life that matters go to DanMularski.com