By the time my family made it to Glacier National Park we had been camping for twelve years (my whole life at the time). The camper was set up in a matter of minutes; chairs around the fire ring, slide-out out, lantern on the picnic table. I stood in front of the camper and looked around me. I hadn't been to the mountains at a point in my life up to then that I was able to remember. The air was thin and cool compared to the heavy, sticky Missouri air. I was in awe. Something about Glacier National Park felt so wild and so freeing. I felt at home.
After several day hikes I begin to wonder more. I first printed out a map of Glacier backcountry. I was so intrigued by the idea of backpacking, not just day hiking. How do you carry everything in a backpack? How much food do you need? What about bears? What gear do you need? The deep dive began. I researched gear and different hikes. I first discovered the Appalachian Trail. I couldn't wrap my head around the distance or that people could do it in one year. I wondered how they could walk just ten miles a day never mind more. I wondered how they carried all their food for six months (spoiler alert: they don't carry it all at once). I wondered what gear that needed and how much clothing they needed. I wondered how scared they would be or tired of walking they would get. I had so many questions and yet the biggest desire to do it. When I learned about other backpacking trails I was even more interested.
As I grew older and got busier with sports and activities and school, my interest in backpacking got pushed to the back burner. I never lost my interest, I just didn't think as much about it. In March of 2020 (what a wonderful time right?) my school sent all of home for the remainder of the year. With it being the final stretch of my senior year I took it pretty hard. My final track season ended before it really began, I didn't go to prom, I almost didn't get graduation, and I lost contact with most of my friends. I felt pretty alone and anxious. I wasn't sure if the world was going to end. In one ear I heard one thing and in the other I heard another thing. It was one of the most stressful and scary times of my life. Until I was reunited with my interest with backpacking. While listening to a https://trailtalespod.com/episodes/ episode about the Tahoe Rim Trail I jumped back into this passion I almost forgot I had.
My why for wanting to thru hike isn't to escape my past or to find my purpose in life. It's not really to physically or mentally challenge myself. My why is simply because I owe it to my twelve year old self. I had this passion, this goal, this calling to do this thing that I couldn't do at the time. Now that I am an adult, and don't have a house payment or a full time career, I can finally live my dream.
"In the end, do you want to have had everything or have done everything" -Double Dusty, 2021