In the beginning…traveling by foot was the only option. Then came horses, camels, carts, boats, bikes, planes, trains, and automobiles. While traveling by foot is some part of most travel, in today’s world it is almost always a very small part. The world is just too big, and we are generally in too much of a hurry, to see much of it by foot. So, we choose faster modes of travel.
However, there are a few of us that from time to time will revert back to the ways of our primitive ancestors and just set out across the face of the earth on foot. For about 5 months starting on April 19th, I will become one of them as I start the northward journey from the US/Mexican border to the US/Canadian border 2650 miles away. Yes, there will be times that I leave the trail and hitch a ride in search of food and other supplies. There is even one place in the state of Oregon where I will have to take the bus to get around a 100-mile section of the trail closed due to a fire that took place in 2020. But for the most part, my feet are what will move me forward.
There are as many reasons for doing this as there are people attempting it. Some people do it to “find themselves”. Others are just generally in the pursuit of adventure. Some are even attempting to prove something to themselves or to others. My reasons are probably not unique, but they are mine.
By most measures, I have been very successful in my life. I have made decent amounts of money, had some meaningful and fulfilling jobs (a few that were not), explored much of the world, and loved a couple of good women (not at the same time). There were a few big things that ended in a way other than I had hoped. I don’t regret any of them. They made me who I am today and I am pretty happy with how I turned out. But, as I head into that final chapter of my life I want to place a stake in the ground and in my mind. Call it a memory marker. I guess I think of this hike as a major milestone in the longer journey of life, and the first step of the next chapter. It is the first step of any journey that is the most important and yet is it usually the one least remembered. Not this time. This time, that first step stays with me for the rest of my life. Whether I finish the trail or not, this journey will give me the time to really appreciate the experience and the memories that it forms.
What memories will you form this year that will stay fresh in your mind for the rest of your life?