Someone equated my preparation of this thru-hike to planning a wedding. I never actually thought about it, but she was spot on. However, unlike getting married, stuff can go wrong. Not ‘the flowers didn’t show up’ wrong, mortally wrong. We are not going to think about that though. We are going to have happy, fuzzy thoughts and all will be well.
I don’t remember the exact day I decided to do a thru-hike, but it was in the spring of last year (2014). Since then, I’ve been searching, quoting, reviewing, preparing and organizing.
Pick the date – That was easy. The day had to be the anniversary of my release from Bellevue. It’s allegorical. As I was released to be free from that hellhole they call a place of treatment for mental illness, I will be free from the constraints of society’s definition of civilization to live a life of simplicity for the next six months or so.
Pick the venue – That was easy too. Living on the East Coast and having a cross-country foot trail right in my back yard left no question as to the path I would hike. The Appalachian Trail is one of the three trails known as the ‘Triple Crown‘, prestigious in the hiking realm.
Create the guest list – One of the tactics for setting yourself up for a successful thru-hike is to announce your intentions so as to create accountability. Well, I’ve been on a marketing whirlwind to get the word out there as to what my plans are. I’ve set up this site, I’ve been using various social media vehicles, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth to let everyone know what I’m doing. I have a lot of folks now whom I am accountable to see this through.
Choose a photographer and/or videographer – I will be my own photographer and videographer. I will chronicle my journey as I go along. Hopefully, there won’t be a reprise of the Blair Witch Project snot scene (click here if you have no idea what I’m talking about).
Choose the musicians – The forest will provide all the music I need. Any dancing that will be done will be as a result of some hunger-induced trance and will most likely be done in a circle under the stars (naked).
Decide on flowers and décor – Again, the forest will provide all the flowers as well will be the perfect setting.
Hire a caterer – The stops I make along the way will provide me with all the sustenance I need, although I don’t think that the fare will be that of a Michelin star restaurant.
Buy a gown – As with choosing a wedding dress, I’ve tried on numerous backpacks before settling on ‘Big Red’. I’ve tested so much gear, it makes one’s head spin.
Manage the budget – In addition to the money spent on gear and equipment, to my surprise, it costs a heck of a lot of money to go live out in the woods for 6 months straight! I’ve set aside some money so that I don’t get stuck in the middle of God-knows-where begging on the side of the road for food (it actually happens).
Send the invitations – You all are invited to share in my journey via this blog.
Wedding day beauty plan – My on-trail beauty plan is to try not to stink like a roaming garbage dumpster or carrion with moving legs.
All of this preparation has been a lot of work! This is nothing though in comparison to what I’m about to endure, the real work starts in 6 days (wow, sounds like marriage).
All of these months of planning have come down to this, this one moment where I take my first step on the Appalachian Trail as a thru-hiker. So here goes nothing.