As I sat down to write this post I checked a message on my Facebook page from a high school friend back in Lake Charles, La, Eliot, and it was asking about what all was in my bag so he could get ideas for future hiking and camping trips. Well, it just so happens, my last post was about “whats in my backpack”. After I shared the post with him he told me, same as many other folks, he was looking forward to following along on the adventure. Though this was not originally what I was going to post about, I thought I would include a short bit about my thoughts and then I would share with you what I am carrying in my food bag.
So, first off
To all of those out there that are looking forward to following along on this journey, thank you! I never thought that folks would enjoy following along with a guy who grew up in the low, flatland of Sulphur, Louisiana, walk for 2,193.1 miles up mountains and down valleys for 6 months.
Although I am glad that there are folks looking forward to following along, it is not for you or them that I am doing this hike. I am doing this hike because I have never in my life set out to do anything, to have any goals, to make a difference in any way. I have lived a life full of fear, fear of many things. I played baseball when I was younger, I could have been better, but I was afraid. I was afraid to catch a ground ball because, God forbid, what if it hit me. I played the piano and as much as I fought with mom about practice and playing, I still enjoyed it and wished I had continued, but that one parent that laughed out loud when the piece I was going to play was announced, I botched the whole piece and didn’t really care to play much after. I had absolutely no intention of going to college after high school, many reasons, my dad owned a successful mapping company that I could work for, my English teacher in 10th grade said I wouldn’t make it through college. I could go on with many others, but I don’t want to loose you in all of this.
The times of overcoming:
Oh, 2004 I graduated from UNC Charlotte with a 3.7 GPA and made the deans list one year. 🤪🤪🤪
Until last summer, I had never spent the night in a tent outside! I always had a fear of what was going to happen to me out there, what sort of animal was going to eat me! I have since gotten over that and have camped outside many times and even did a 3 day backpacking trip all alone. Yay me! I was a shy bashful kid, like 75% of the population, I had Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. For 15 years, starting around 1999, I performed in live theatre, even at one point playing a roll with 4 other actors, where I played 5 characters in one show!
So, WHY am I hiking the AT?
- To learn to overcome and embrace a challenge
- To see that I can overcome fear and accomplish what I set out to do even if its waaaaaaaay bigger than me
- To create a better Stuart
- To meet God in the wilderness
- The people/community
- To see that I can live life with less
- Though a late in life one… it checks a box on the bucket list.
- To share the beauty of God’s creation from a different perspective with those around me.
I am editing this into the post because it is too good not to mention as another why. I was going to talk about this at a later time, but, no time like the present. My friend Amy, called me this week to ask me if I could do something for her BFF. You see, several years ago Lucy’s husband, Derren, passed away with brain cancer, he had always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. She wanted to know if I would be willing to carry a golf ball with his name on it that she had made for his funeral. It was not a request to carry it all the way to Katadhin, but, I insisted on carrying that golf ball and his memory, even though I did not know him, all the way to the end!
What if I want to quit?
- Remember that, while I was acting on stage, I used my fears and nervousness to make me better.
- Remember that not many people my age get the chance to drop it all and set out to hike for 2,193.1 miles
- As much as I say this isn’t being done for the reader, I have people living vicariously through me and wanting me to go on. That fact is, I have told many people about this and have enjoyed the conversations it has led to and the wow! on their faces and I will push on because of them.
- There have been many situations in life that I have felt like giving up on but I didn’t and I’m still here and better for not giving up.
- I read on a post and will keep this with me, “…that deep down the temporary satisfaction of stopping would not be able to compete with the satisfaction of completing the hike.” -Heather “Anish” Anderson (Alexa Bonsai Shapiro 2019: Overcoming the Desire to Quit During a Thru-Hike. https://thetrek.co/overcoming-desire-quit-thru-hike/)
- I don’t want to live with the regret.
- I have bought all of this dehydrated food and don’t want to have to sit at home and eat it all! My girlfriend would probably not like date nights to included dehydrated backpacking meals, as good as they may be! 🙂
- See edit portion above this section. 🙂
Okay, so, I have went on about this more than was originally intended. Never knew how things would just start flowing if I sat down to write. I am going to push off what is in my food bag until next week.
4 thoughts on “Food for thought, as I sit with 30 days left.”
Stuart, my name is Brett Foster. I live in Ragley, La. My brother & I are planning a section hike with our boys from Springer Mountain to Neel Gap in early June. My mom knows your dad and mentioned that you were through hiking the AT, so, naturally I am following your progress as we don’t have the time to dedicate to a through hike. I definitely look forward to seeing your posts & emails throughout your journey! Make sure that you share your trail name with us because I’m sure that “Hippie Hiker” will be changed on the trail. Also, don’t beat yourself up for taking ZERO days from time to time. Good Luck and Hike Your Own Hilke!!!!
Hey hey Brett! Thank you for the comment. I will certainly let you and everyone else know my trail name once I get one. I am pretty sure you are correct that Hippie Hiker will not last.
I have no doubt that you will finish and that all your reasons why will prove to be enough to get you through! So proud of you and am excited to live vicariously through you!
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Stuart, I send a message to you but didn’t complete my thoughts. Just wanted to also tell you that I did a hike (back in my high school days) in the Arkansas mountains. It was a 15 mile hike with full camping gear (We didn’t have the lighter weight options that are out there today). It was quite the challenge (nothing like your trip, though) but I will always treasure that time. You find out a lot about yourself & your faith when you are trekking with no one else to communicate with. God will see you through & will be with you even when you don’t realize it. Words of advice – Count on needing at least 1 other pair of boots/shoes sent to one of your mail drops. Don’t cook in your tent – I speak from experience. I took at month long trip with a friend from high school to every national park west of Arkansas. Spent a very cold night up in Glacier National Park & we camped beside a frozen lake. However, we cooked inside our tent & nearly had a run in with a bear. Had to scare it off with our “protection”. Will be enjoying the updates. And, I’m always welcome to a phone call if you need someone as a sounding board during the trip.