Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quickness

Over the past week I have:
1. Gone camping in the Cat Skill mountains
2. Eaten approximately 4000 calories with my family for a day of thankful celebration and epic nerf gun battles.
3. Hiked to the top of the mountain at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

Somewhere in the middle of that Mike was also in London for 3 days. There is a fair amount of photos to accompany these gambols, but I haven't been home/stopped moving/focused my eyeballs yet.

Stay tuned for our bird's-eye-views and my bird-brain-thoughts.

In the meanwhile...

My 10-year-old cousin, upon reaching the top of the cliff-face in Harper's Ferry and looking down at the tiny people walking below:
"Kinda makes you want to spit, doesn't it?"

Friday, November 9, 2012

My first experience on the AT

Mounts Lafayette and Lincoln
I was 17 in the summer of 2003 and I went on a hut hike through the presidential range along the AT.  A hut hike can be done through the White Mountains in New Hampshire, as there are bunk-huts about 10 miles apart along the trail. The huts are mostly for weekend hikers, though some thru-hikers are able to snag spots in the huts if they trade manual labor like cleaning the huts and cooking food. It was my first time hiking any of the Appalachian Trail, and I remember seeing the thru-hikers at the huts, and wanting to be them SO BADLY. It's only taken a decade, but now I get to be.

I hope that when I'm thru-hiking I see weekend hiker teenagers along the trail, and inspire them to be thru-hikers one day as well.

I went with my friend Sara, as well as her father, two brothers and sister. Below is a copy-and-pasted journal entry that I wrote as a 17-year-old, 9 years ago. I have not edited this journal entry, and it is a rare and special glimpse into the mind of teenage Kit.
(Click the "Read More" link!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This is why

Someone asked me why I am doing this.

Golly, that's a good question.

I feel like it makes perfect sense to me, but I haven't tried to truly articulate it. It becomes difficult to put these thoughts into words, because words are only boxes of meaning. The words I pick won't actually encompass the fullness of truth. How am I supposed to summarize an entire lifetime of feelings into one bullet-pointed list?!

This is just my way of avoiding telling you that the only reason I want to hike the trail is because I want a sanctioned excuse to be utterly filthy.

The main reason that I'm having trouble writing this list is because of the other lists I've seen. The lists that I have seen have one central theme: dissatisfaction. They're not happy with some aspect of themselves or their lives. They are driven by several motivation factors in regard to rekindling their lost enchantment with life. They don't like their job, feel stuck, feel lost in their understanding of themselves, have a need to discover what they want from life.

I am not unhappy. I have a job that I love. I have a great apartment. I live in a fabulous city with a wonderful community of friends.

So, when it comes to writing my own list, I am having trouble articulating exactly why I would want to leave all of that behind. The thing is, I don't want to leave all of that behind. And I don't really believe that I am leaving it. It's true that my life will be very different once I leave for the trail, and it won't go back to the way it was once I'm finished. But I'm not leaving myself behind. I do not believe that huge changes have to be precipitated by sadness or frustration.

I am not running away. I am running toward. I am running toward a future me, who can look back at my life and say that I never shied away from doing something just because I was comfortable. That greatness can exist where ever I am, whatever the circumstances, and even though I might be content right now, there can be so many different flavors of happiness. I want to try all of those flavors.

There's a book I am reading that recommends that I write down a thorough, numbered list of my reasons, so that I can refer back to the list whenever the trail gets hard. I tried to write a long list, but all of the things I came up with felt phony and forced. So here's my best shot, and the one that is the most honest:

Reason I am starting the trail:
I am happy.

Reason I will finish the trail:
I will be unhappy if I do not finish what I start.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tickets to Georgia

Georgia, made by my Atlanta-native roomie, Jessica
I hold in my hands two One-Way Amtrak tickets to Atlanta, Georgia. Well, I'm not holding them in my hands in the literal sense, only the figurative. As a result of technology, we don't get paper tickets anymore. Those tickets are actually sitting in my email. So the only way I could truly say that I was holding those tickets in my hands would be to lift this gigantic Mac up off the desk.

I HOLD IN MY HANDS TWO ONE-WAY AMTRAK TICKETS TO ATLANTA GEORGIA.

It feels infinitely more real now that the tickets have been purchased. One way, please. Oh, round trip? No thanks. I'll walk.

We'll be in Maine right before we leave, putting the last of our things into storage in our storage unit up there. It also feels very satisfying to start the journey very close to where we will end it. Then it does feel like a "round" trip, the way that a donut is round. A very squashed donut.

Our train leaves at 8:15am on March 5th, 2013 from Boston South Station and arrives in Atlanta Georgia at 8:15am on March 6th. It's not a straight shot, as we'll have to get a ride into Boston, and then we also have a 2-hour layover in NYC. I think it will be very odd to see NYC one last time before our journey in this way. I like to imagine that we would stroll out of Penn Station, wander over to get some bagels, and stare up at the tall buildings like the sheltering, iron giants that we no longer need.

Except, if I'm to be honest with myself, an Amtrak "layover" usually consists of the arriving train pulling into the station incredibly late, which will mean that our last foray into NYC will consist of us sprinting across Penn Station with our gear, yelling desperately, "HOLD THE TRAIN! HOLD THE TRAIN!" It'll be just like how it always was.

Romantique!

We decided to take the train because the other options were a bus or an airplane. Starting our journey with a 3-day bus trip would undoubtedly be a gold mine for painful yet hilarious anecdotes. But even I have an upper limit of discomfort I will endure for a good story, and due to the fact that buses make me violently ill, it just doesn't seem worth it. Taking an airplane was briefly considered, until we realized the sort of contraband-type materials we will have in our packs (e.g., propane and food), and how silly it would be to have our gear confiscated before it even had a chance to get dragged away in the woods by mice and/or bears.

I also have a special place in my heart for trains, as I took a solo month-long train journey around the country as a newly high school graduated 18 year-old. At the time Amtrak had a deal for one ticket that was good for an entire month, and you could use it all over the United States and Canada. I took a tiny backpack, put on hiking boots, and cavorted all over the country, staying in hostels. I didn't bring any music-playing device, only books. I had no cell phone at the time, and a terrible habit of not calling home to ensure my parents of my safety. This came to a head when I was in California when I called home to inform my family that I was going skydiving, and that I would call again when I landed so that they would know I was alive. Of course, I completely forgot, and didn't call until 2 days later. That was 8 years ago, and I like to think that I have grown at least a little bit. I'm about half an inch taller, so there's that.

Jessica, my confidant and roommate, is from Atlanta. Her fantastic parents, John and Connie, have offered to pick us up from the train station and set us on our way at Amicalola Falls.

From today, we have exactly four months before we leave for Georgia.