It’s probably counter-intuitive to limit it to five, but the internet algorithm demands that short attention spans be catered to with listicles. So here you have it — five truths and a lie about why I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail. In this article I aim to massage the dishevelment of your brain with an easy to digest and numbered list of reasons I personally am taking to the 2,200 mile endeavor. However, this list will feature a lie. Go ahead and comment if you think you’ve dissected me enough in the writing to know which reason is the false one. Or don’t. See if I care (I will).
I’m Fossils. This is a name I gave myself. It’s not a name I earned and it holds absolutely no meaning to anything. I just…really like dinosaurs. I’m headed straight for Katahdin with a bundle of experience on my shoulders, a whole lot of depression to combat, and a strong desire to put my fingers to work the most in documenting the experience. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail has not always been a dream of mine. But, as an avid adventurer, the next logical step for me was to take on one of the greatest offerings of the USA – a 2,200 mile hike northbound from Georgia to Maine.
There. Now you know me. So, here’s six reasons why I’m hiking the AT this year:
1. I have no goals.
I always told myself before I turned 30 I would do three things: accomplish one adventure, appreciate and learn to love my body, and set a world record. In 2017, I skateboarded across the USA with nothing else besides a backpack on my shoulders. It was my greatest achievement – anything I did after that would pale in comparison…so why bother?
I never did earn a world record. And I never learned to appreciate and love my body. I turned 30 and those goals came and went, but were never replaced. So, I had to find something new to accomplish and the Appalachian Trail hit all the right marks for my next adventure.
2. I need to leave my shell.
Somewhere around the time COVID began, I became a different person. I was already working from home at that time, but almost instantly I was shut off from roller derby, national parks were closed and boxing went online-only. This backed me into being a recluse — if I didn’t want to, I didn’t have to see anybody. If I didn’t want to, I didn’t have to do anything. So…I didn’t. I ordered food every day, sat on my ass and played video games. As the world opened up I wasn’t ready. Even though I’d done some amazing things in the past, they held no bearing on what I could do in the future. Suddenly it became an ordeal to do anything minute like going to the doctor. Going out was something I never wanted to do any more. Interacting with people was akin to torture.
The desire to hike the AT comes with the knowledge that I will be constantly surrounded by others who are achieving the same goal as me. I find that extremely comforting. Living alone and only leaving my house if I want to try a new restaurant is simply not an existence I can keep living. I need nature. I need people.
3. I’m bad at pretty much everything I do.
I haven’t had a job since 2020. I’ve been riding out on savings and odd jobs, just getting through every day. I’ve attempted every career, I’ve started all kinds of businesses and I’ve taken up every hobby, but I can’t pinpoint a singular thing I would say is “my” thing. I’m simply just bad across the board at all things, all at once. Which is only slightly better than terrible.
It’s pretty hard to be bad at walking. Whether it’s up a scramble or down a gentle hill, nobody’s criticism will ever hold value. Whether I walked 1 mile or 2,200 miles, it’s still going to be 1 mile more than I walked before.
4. I was promised an inheritance.
When I announced that I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail, a lot of people cast doubt on me. Even though I skateboarded across the USA before, that trip began as an attempt to create a world record — fastest time skateboarding from Oregon to Massachusetts…and I failed. I did complete the trip, and I did skateboard across the USA, but I certainly didn’t set any records. I took many zero days, hitchhiked a few times, and did as I pleased.
So that doubt turned into a challenge. I was promised by a loved one that if I did do the Appalachian Trail in its entirety I would be named the sole inheritor of their estate. Naturally this created a competitive spirit within me, and became something I had to do, even if I didn’t care to. How big of an inheritance? I don’t know.
5. I need a brain and body reset.
I don’t know what it is. Ever since I started living alone my knee started giving me issues. My left boob suddenly felt heavier. I developed weird rashes from time to time. I somehow became allergic to dogs??? My ADHD became uncontrollable. And…I put on a lot of weight. The comfort of life in a bed has never suited me well. For the last 7 months of my life I’ve been on my own for the first time in 5 years, and all I got out of it was a mirror reflection I couldn’t stand to look at (both because of knee issues and a terrible self image…har har har). As time goes on, I can only imagine it will get worse.
Getting out into the woods, spending time in my brain that doesn’t require me to plan anything other than where to place my next foot, and being the complete opposite of what I’ve been recently is exactly what I need to cure my mind and body.
6. I’m going to write my second book.
In 2018 I self-published my book “Carrion, Carried On.” I ran a successful Kickstarter that funded the entire process, and squeezed out 100 copies of self-masturbatory journaling while skateboarding across the USA, destroying my knee as a one-legged pusher with a 35lb backpack. Self publishing my journal was SO MUCH fun, but not something I would go too far out of my way to do again. I want to expand from publishing my journals to writing stories and using my brain creatively. What else is there to think about mile after mile besides the next chapter to write?
So I’m going to write my second book. Whether it’s late at night after hiking for miles curled up in my quilt, or on a zero day at some magical and imaginary spa waiting for my turn in the sauna, I’ll be writing. Hiking the AT is not just about accomplishing goals and dreams, it’s about doing things I otherwise can’t get myself to do. You can look forward to journals of the trail from me here, advice and non-hiking related articles on my personal website, and eventually a full book (as mentioned) I’ve been dying to push out in the future.
That’s it. Five truths and a lie about why I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail. Am I really going to write a book? Will I become a millionaire when I kiss the summit of Katahdin? Was I lying about being a depressed, bored and uninspired millennial constantly staring at stars wishing I was a better person with no qualms about my day-to-day life? Do I really consider all of the accomplishments I subtly and humbly wrote about as things I’m bad at? You tell me. Or don’t. See if I care.