This I Believe

Kristen - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I am a hopeless romantic, obsessed with that which is wild, free, idealistic, and holds a healthy element of risk: I love a good adventure. I was one of those kids who had to be lassoed in for dinner because I was out on safari running around the yard. Now, every time the clouds part I have the powerful urge to lace up my boots and run to the woods for a hike. Stories of expedition, exploration, and defied odds trigger an itch to bolt for the wild blue yonder, so it should come as no surprise that I have decided to walk from Georgia to Maine after graduation.

There is something exhilarating and calming all at once about traversing backcountry with a pack on your back and no agenda but to walk. It is so simple it sounds crazy, which is usually what people think I am when I tell them that I plan to hike the Appalachian Trail. All I propose is to walk for a few months! I won’t be the first or last to do it should I make it; but, looking forward to the people and places along the way that will change me, I start to get that itch.

I believe that adventure is what makes my life real and shapes what I value: adventure is how I discover myself. Like finding a secret lookout along a well worn path, I discover new aspects of myself and define my limits. I walked across Vermont for 10 days and 100 miles last year, a modest jaunt compared to what I am planning. On that walk I encountered weather, insects, and new sights, sounds, smells and sores. I discovered that I am terrified by lightening storms, that I love Oreos with peanut-butter, and that if I still love someone after hiking with them for 10 days I’ve found a good friend to go through life with. None of this is particularly earth shattering, but it is me and it is part of my adventure.

The Appalachian Trail is 2,100 miles long. That is 2,100 miles of sore feet and possibility, and 2,100 miles to continue discovering who I am, what I love, and what I believe. When people ask why on earth I want to go walk the length of the east coast, I say “It will be an adventure,” and then I ask if they would like to come along.