Today was the first time I got a chance to hike since I returned from the AT. I’ve been itching to get dirt back on my shoes for a few weeks, but for some reason struggled with making that happen, despite my continued unemployment leaving my schedule wide open. Fortunately enough for my procrastinatory nature, the family that I’m staying with decided to go for a walk in the park and invited me to come along. This was the extra little nudge I needed to finally get off my butt.
By pure coincidence, the trail they were going to was at Gunpowder Creek Nature Park, which is the place where I had one of the moments that led to my decision to hike the AT. The trail has a long steep climb to get back to the parking lot, and when I visited the park over a year ago on a church trip. The occasion was for a small group through the church that focused on creation care (Christianese for environmentalism) and we were taken on a guided walk through the park by two local science teachers. It was informative and inspirational. The crucial moment for me, however came when we were taking that steep climb out. I’d offered to help carry a stroller for one of the mothers who had come on the trip with her kids, and I was winded and exhausted barely minutes into the climb. I looked over at a friend of mine and she had a look of terror in her face that made me realize that on the outside I looked like I was about to collapse from a heart attack. I decided at that moment that I was going to do something different to get myself in better shape. That started the road that ended with me hitting the AT.
I’m working hard to get back in the swing of things. To make sure that I get out there as often as I can. To hike, to get space away from it all. And I hope to encourage as many people as I can to get out to these parks as well.