Thursday, November 14, 2013
Twenty years ago, in the early afternoon, I stomped up a small mountain in the cool
autumn, and stopped walking. It had been
a long walk, a bit over five months, and the trail I was walking on ended
there. As I was twenty years old at the
time, this was almost half a lifetime ago.
When I started the Appalachian Trail,
the main question in my m ind was, “Can I get
to the other end.” When I got there, my
main concerns, judging from the notes in my Journal, seemed involve food. I guess I’m not really the philosophical
I started walking because it was the only thing I really wanted to do. I didn’t like college, the alternatives weren’t very appealing, and ever since my uncle pointed out that the trail in the Virginia mountains was the same trail as the one my folks took me to in New Jersey, I wanted t osee for myself if these familiar paths in the disconnected lands of home and summer holiday land could really be connected ,simply by walking a lot.
I stopped walking because my feet hurt. The end of the trail helped too, of course, but there are people who simply turn around and walk back the way they came. There are people who walk because they have nothing else left in life. I called them trail zombies, and they terrified be because I could see myself becoming one of them. It would be so easy, to lose touch with everyone, sell anything that didn’t fit in my pack, and walk until the end of my days. Instead, I stopped walking. I went home, looked up people who I’d lost touch with in college, went back to school in ’94. It wasn’t easy, as I’ve always been a bit of an introvert and a misfit, but somehow, 20 years later, here I am with a house, a wife, a job and a couple of kids. I still love bushwalking, and get out whenever my commitments to the above listed allow, but these days, every walk has an end, and a return to civilization. Hopefully the next 20 years will go as nicely.