The lightning blinded me and the thunder that followed brought me to my knees. The hair on my arms and neck stood up. I continued running atop Pond Mountain, and as my boots filled with water, I prayed that my pack cover would keep everything in my 30 pound backpack dry.
And yet, I smiled as I ran, with two things on my mind: this is without a doubt the worst storm I have ever been in, and this is still better than the best day at work.
One month and 423 miles ago I left a tearful mom, and envious dad behind in Georgia as I took my first steps Northward on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail—or AT as it is called—is a 2,184 mile footpath from Georgia to Maine for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness. Originally my plan was to go as far as I could in one month then go back to work. But, on the trail, plans change.
While sitting on the banks of the French Broad river in North Carolina, I decided I would continue hiking the AT until I was either unhappy, out of money, or 1909 miles away standing on Mt Katahdin, in Maine. I kept hiking. And along the trail, I learned some helpful things—not only about myself but also about life in general. Things like:
.2 on a map means whoever made the map has no clue how far it really is
that there are still good people in the world and it truly is better to give than to receive
that “the secret to happiness is freedom, the secret to freedom is courage" (advice written in a journal by a fellow hiker that passed away on the trail ahead of me)
and that courage is the unbridled desire to live, with no fear of death.
Having completed the journey, I often look back fondly and reminisce on how great it was to live so simply for four and a half months. Carrying all necessary items in my backpack, enduring snow, rain, wild animals, bugs, hunger and solitude—and all the while improving my attitude, perseverance, courage, and general outlook on life.
This truly was the adventure of a lifetime, and I believe—with the right attitude—anyone is capable of repeating the journey.
You can read more of Liam's Appalachian adventures on his blog.
Images ©Liam Cremins.