The Big Question…..

In the days since I posted my first bookhiker blog to announce my plans to start hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT), the most common question that friends and family have asked is simply- why? Most have been very encouraging. Some have expressed skepticism. A few declared a serious concern for my heath and sanity. All have asked “Why?”

Well, the best explanation that I can give is- It is there. It is an impressive stretch of wilderness that is just waiting to be conquered.  I am not the first to walk it, but it is a challenge that is waiting to be attempted.

The AT combined many of the things that bring me the most enjoyment (other than my wife and family)- nature, walking, solitude, and a test of my strength and abilities. The Trail is a perfect fit for me and the challenge is aligned perfectly with my need to get away for a little while.

Half Moon Rock from Chimney Top Rock in the Red River George.
Half Moon Rock from Chimney Top Rock in the Red River Gorge.

At about 43, most men reach that point of life stagnation and find themselves in the clichéd “midlife crisis.” For the first part of our lives, we work to be stable through our professions and family. At some point we reach relative comfort and the stability of early success. Our lives are established as far as employment, family, and routines. We tend to wake up today and do the same thing we did yesterday just so that we can go to bed and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow. This cycle is repeated for years and then we die. Few men are able to break out of that life of “quiet desperation” and set off on such an adventure. I intend to head off that need to buy a sports car (my friends know I’m too cheap for that) or to take up sky diving by starting this little 2,100-mile trip.

Cooking supper on top of Double Arch in the Red River Gorge on October 16, 2015.
Supper on top of Double Arch in the Red River Gorge on October 16, 2015.

I intend for the second phase of my life to be even more exciting than the first by making this hike not for my community or my family, but for once, I started this trip for me. In two weeks from today, I will set off from Springer Mountain, Georgia and plan to walk the first 75-100 miles before the weather turns ugly for the year. I plan to resume my hike by completing sections of the AT until I reach Maine in two years or so since I do not have the 90-110 days to do the trail all in one trip.

In short, the reason “why” I am walking the trail is that it is there and I am here. It is the same reason I walk the Red River Gorge and the reason I roam the hills of Breathitt County. I need (and I believe we all need) a continuous challenge of our physical and mental abilities. The AT is my challenge- what is yours?

Before I leave for the trip, I will post a link so that you can follow me digitally through my GPS unit for those that wish to know my progress.


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Hiking the Red River and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Big Question…..

  1. Doris Jean Watts Godbey says:

    Good luck! I shall be cheering you on and will keep you in my prayers!


  2. Gayle Deaton says:

    A great answer to the question “why?” and beautiful, too. Still have a mug from the Crimson Moon Cafe in Dahlonega, GA, from 10 years ago. Lovely area.


  3. Carolyn Robinson Green says:

    Dear Cousin. I admire what you are doing. Be careful!! Will be praying for you safety. It would be so awesome to be out there in God’s Country and to see His creation. God Bless Carolyn


  4. Janie says:

    You have earned this opportunity and once being your employee and still as a friend, I totally understand your need to get away from it all..Good Luck..I hope you get all you can out of this experience and come back to Breathitt County, revived and ready to serve the community even better than you already do! Happy trails to you!!


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