Usually it’s the sound of the morning traffic commute out on the busy Brooklyn corner on which I live that signals the time for me to arise. This time of year, when the days start getting longer and the sun starts coming up earlier, it’s my cats meowing for breakfast at 6 instead of 7am, who tell me what time it is to get up. For them, this is very instinctual. As far as I know, they know nothing about daylight savings time. Just simply, “the sun is up, time to get up and feed me!” In just over two weeks time, out on the trail, rising with the sun will naturally become my modus operandi as well.
I fly down to Atlanta two weeks from tomorrow. The day after that I’ll be starting to hike the 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail from the top of Springer Mountain with my dad, Mike, and our good family friend, Tim. Though this past weekend was spent very tangibly gear checking, weighing and re-weighing items and doling out supplies in the mail-drop boxes currently stored in the basement of my parents’ house, the fact that I’ll be leaving my current daily life for more than 4 months still feels a bit conceptual. Like, “is this really about to happen?”
Perhaps it’s because I’ve left the majority of food prep and mileage planning to Mike that I feel this way. I haven’t had the time to really be thinking all trail all the time. I feel bad about that, but let’s face it, I’m working and he’s retired. (Not to mention simultaneously planning a wedding.) I’ve been reading books about the AT, doing some prep hikes with weight, letting my employers know that I’ll be gone for a bit, (hoping they’ll have work for me upon my return), but somehow it hasn’t fully hit yet. I’m not being naïve about this trip, just honest. It takes a lot of time to plan something like this and I’ve left a lot of it up to my dad. If I don’t end up liking the flavors of oatmeal he bought, I probably ought to keep it to myself.
I do know that even though we’ll be walking together, (or at least within range of each other), and sharing in many experiences, this adventure is going to end up meaning something different for each of us. I may have let my dad take the lead in terms of planning, but I’ll be out there too, taking every individual step, relying on my own strengths to get me up to the next mountain peak, on to the next shelter to sleep in, the next state of the union to walk through and perhaps even the next stage of my life.
I don’t know if walking all these miles for all this time will really change anything on my daily t0-do list when I get back, but I expect that just like rising and falling with the sun, my outlook on life will become clearer and more instinctual too.