I've been writing a lot lately for this blog (vs. The Ocho, which I've been slacking on), I haven't even posted all of the content that I've written to the point where I have to consciously look at the date stamp on the posts to make sure that I don't accidently post them before other content to make sure they are released in the proper order.
With that being said I've mentioned at the start of about every post in the past month that I've really began gravitating back to reading blogs and books, simply wanting to be out in nature and on the Trail. Obviously with my newfound responsibilities of a home and family (girlfriend and a dog, no babies here) it complicates an eventual jaunt on the AT immeasurably.
This coupled with my recent trip to the Whites has stretched my sanity a bit thin, as I often find it hard to get out and get on trail, any trail that is, because of my schedule. Also with the year drawing to a close the NOBO's of 2016 are finished or finishing and the SOBO's are well into their journey, but what has truly ground on me is the beginning of 2017 prep posts.
Why do they grind on me you may ask? Well it's mostly because I feel a sense of community with them, as I aspire to Thru-hike the AT and I have been dreaming and prepping since 2014 (only started blogging in 2015). This sense of community is quickly shattered when I think about how I'll simply just be digitally stalking these people again this year through their blog.
Having planned on hiking this year and having to follow those blogs, then deciding a 2018 attempt would be best for me. Having to do it again is a maddening thought right now and I am truly having a hard time explain why...though I'm sure I'll be happy as a clam in 2017 when the NOBO's start and I have new content to read, and I of course wish them all the best.
I have also been reading the wrap up posts of the 2016 Thru-Hikers that in some parallel universe would have been my trail family and what I thought was the most interesting and poignant thing I read was 'The Beginning will be the Hardest' from SealTree over on AppTrials and while he was talking about the first few weeks on the Trail (and trust me I'm sure he's right) I interpreted it a little differently and it got me thinking.
The beginning is definitely the hardest, the act of preparing and saving for a hike and then translating all the preparation you've done into the actual act of stepping off of Springer with the intention of being out on Trail for 4-5 Months hiking over two thousand miles. Prep is done close to home near the ones you love, while you work diligently at a job or school you may or may not hate, stepping away from that is hard.
What if your work won't keep you on when you get back, how will you pay your bills after the Trail?
What if a family member falls ill while you're in the massive dead zone of the 100 Miles Wilderness?
Questions like those are one of the reason I think the beginning of the Trail so hard, but what I have been doing is attempted to work on strategies to mitigate some of these fears. For example, working on having the option to attend an Army school in late 2018 relieves me of some fear of returning from my hike and my employer not wanting to take me back, as I will at least have a source of income.
So between the prep-posts for 2017 NOBO's and wrap-up posts for 2016 NOBO's we are entering into NOBOing off season which represents a dark time for us blog creepers, but things will be looking up soon come February. I'm also considering making some slight changes to my gear list, updates and testing on that front to follow. I am also considering trying to make it to GA for the ATKO in 2017 and hike the Approach as a long weekend vacation.