View Full Version : Whats your motivation?

01-21-2005, 14:28
I am writing a paper on the AT and was wondering what motivated you to hike the trail from all the way through, Georiga through Maine? What was it that pushed you to finnish the trail? What does that trail do for you, give you a sence of freedom or what? Thanks :D

The Solemates
01-21-2005, 14:31
we do it because we like killing our own food and living off the land.

01-21-2005, 14:34
I am writing a paper on the AT and was wondering what motivated you to hike the trail from all the way through, Georiga through Maine? What was it that pushed you to finnish the trail? What does that trail do for you, give you a sence of freedom or what? Thanks :D============================
I'm pretty hard-headed and generally finish things I start. The AT was no exception. I might add that the odds were against me finishing, as it all turned out. I was pretty sick at times along the trail but just kept on pushing. When I got home I found out I had hiked the entire trail with a serious set of kidney stones. Two operations later I'm fine ...and ready to take on the next challenge in my life.

What the trail did for me was provide an opportunity to stop the world and get off ...to get quiet with myself and make some decisions about what I wanted to do when I grew up. It also allowed me to push myself beyond what I thought my limits might be, something I hadn't done since my days in the military ('68 - '71). That said, I was 53 when I started my hike.

Do me a favor ...send me a copy of your paper when it's completed.

Thanks in advance ...

AT 2003

01-28-2005, 00:24
This is a subject that I am quite interested in as well... nobody seems to want to discuss it though. It seems to me that there have to be factors beyond a love of hiking that would make it important to thruhike. If it were solely about hiking I'm not sure emphasis on the destination or path is so important. I would be interested to read what you come up with. My thought is that of course it varies person to person, but that for some it is a validating experience, for others a introspective experience and for others a social experience and very likely a combination in varying degrees of all three. I am personally intrigued with the psychology of the whole deal as an achievement or goal to be obtained... There seems to be something flawed about that for me personally, but yet that is how I was hooked into it.

01-28-2005, 03:11
my motivation is basically that I have known about the A.T. since I was really little. I have always loved backpacking and camping and one of my dreams was to always hike it and the PCT. Even though life through some curves and it got pushed back, the dream never left and hopefully next year will be the year that I get to thru. I have covered about half (GA-VA) while i was living down south and have been all over NH since I moved up the Boston area, so the time is coming to end-to-end it!

01-28-2005, 09:56
The thought of hiking the trail has been a dream of mine all my life. However, I got tied up in the "rat race" called life. I decided to change my cereer again. The only thing getting me through school is knowing i can get off the rat race for 6 mounths starting in April of 2006. The timing is right sence at that time I will be an RN. I will be quiting my job 2 weeks prior to leaving on my hike. When I finish my hike I think there will be no problem finding a job sence I will be an RN. Therefore, I feel life is too short and the hike is a way top stop the rat race and be able to really think about why we are on this earth. I also plan on reading the Bible from cover to cover too. I think about the trail every day and the ways it is going to change me. Knowing I will be involed with the life ending process when I ruturn to the world as we know it. I can say this because I plan on working in a nursing home when I return. I dont know if i will finish the trail but just getting away is going to be great. I love White blaze because I can get away from all my studing and think of the trail. I think that is stress releif.

So I think hiking the trail will be a life changing experence. It will test me in ways I have never been tested before. So the question is will I be able to do it? I hope to find the meaning of life and become closser to God. I know this is a lot to ask for but the hike will provide the time to think about all this. If all goes well and my mind and body can do it I want to hike the PCT in 2008. I do not know if this answers your question about why I am hiking the trail. To everyone who reads this I will start the trail April 2, 2006. Hope to see you all at that time.:jump

01-28-2005, 10:36
A number of things motivated me to hike the Trail. First off I had a basic grounding in hiking with the Scouts-- and most of the gear. Still, I don't think we ever backpacked much over 5 miles, if ever. At the time a few guys had "50 Miler" awards, which seemed like an awful long distance to hike. I respected those who had that opportunity and ability-- even if I wasn't one of them.

When I was a sophmore in college, I spent a semester in Mexico-- I think disproportionately high percentage of hikers have similar experiences. What was really cool was that one of the guys who lived on my street was a thru hiker. Thankfully, he had slides of his hike sent to him which he showed at a party. My jaw probably dropped. I asked a ton of questions, and have very vivid memories of his pictures of the shelters with the chain link accros the front to keep the bears at bay, and of Katahdin's Knife edge.

I would really like to meet up with this hiker some day-- I think his name might have been Randy (and he may have used the name Rodrigo) and may have been from CT. He was a real nice guy, and very inspiring. He did interesting things, and was a good role model.

Fast forward to 1983 and I found myslef in Bogota, Colombia where I had been teaching for a couple years. I was ready to repatriate, but wasn't enthused about returning to look for a regular job. I literally prepared one of those computer programming flow diagrams with the different directions I could head in. One branch had the AT on it. Largely because tof the magic of that slide show, but just as importantly because of how boring most of the other branches on my decision tree looked, I decided to do a hike. I flew home, filled in the knowledge gaps which weren't covered in that slide show, and 2 or 3 weeks later was going SOBO.

Seemed like a good idea at the time ;-).

01-28-2005, 12:07
Almost everyone I met in '93 were people in transition: between jobs, between high school and college, between high school or college and first jobs, or had had a family crisis such as death of a family member, severe sickness. something.

Why the trail? Many reasons. The trail is a bit like Maine, the United States, or LL Bean, for that matter. There's a mystique about it, a sort of universal recognition that no other long distance trail is likely to achieve.

The AT is such an improbable thing to have been achieved -- a 2,000 mile footpath, traversing mostly private lands, built almost entirely by volunteers, remaining 80 years later mostly as wild as all but a few isolated pockets found anywhere in the east.

I was appalled by how few I met really understood the trails beginnings, and reasons for being. But I recognized that the trail's unique creation was why they were hiking -- even if they did not. They, like many on this list, had simply absorbed the sense of Applalachian Trail uniqueness without the vaguest idea of the facts that had generated the Appalachian Trail mystique over the decades.

I had headed south in April of '93, probably because of this same mystique, though I told my self I was just curious to explore the southern Appalachians, and compare how southern maintainers compared with us in the north. Well that was my reason during practical times.

In more pompous moments, I liked to think I went south to Springer for many of the same reasons Thoreau went to Walden Pond, to front the essentials of life so that when it came time to die I would not discover I had never really lived.

I'm certain of one thing, however. I kept going day after day for six months and three days because I was always curious about what might be around the next bend or over the next ridge. And, oh yes, because it was great fun.


Kozmic Zian
01-28-2005, 14:13
Yea..............Because it's there. It's a challenge, a long way to walk....a major 'life accomplishment'. It really gets one connected to the earth. If you walk it all the way, you should 'get it', finally.....if you don't, after 2000+ miles, you probably never will. 'Get what?'......you say. Why we do distance, of course. The Earth is a living, breathing entity just like you or I. It dosen't give up its secrets easily.....one has to, 'earn', their knowledge of these things. You earn by having 'proximity', or by being close to the Earth for a considerable time in a 'primitive' situation, like a Thru Hike. I say, if one stays out there for an approximate length of(3 mo or more) time, they can become connected. That is, if you have an open mind to such things and seek them. Ask and you will be received. It's a matter of course, if you know you are looking for these spiritual things. This is only one of many reasons folks Thru Hike, but IMHO, one of the most important. KZ@;)

Big Daddy D
01-28-2005, 14:52
Haven't hiked the AT yet, but...

I believe the primary reason is because a through hike can be viewed as a life experience for those planning; an interesting experience at that!

That is my story-I want to collect as many life experiences as I can and still keep within the bounds of sanity (no base jumping for me!).

Additionally, when I'm hiking I get into "the zone" if you will and the neat body chemicals that make you feel good (dorphins or some such endo-babble) really provide an almost transcendental state-that harmony-the "wa" that runners also experience. I also like the no phones, no schedules (well not much) stressless existence, where basic needs-food, survival are paramount.

and after I finish-WOW!!-just think of the bragging rights!!

The ability to move and freedom are as one!

Big Daddy D
GAME 2005
beginning Feb 24th

01-30-2005, 18:15
It is like the migration of the lemmings! Every year people are seized by this madness and are driven to make the hike. It starts as an idea, grows to a longing, then builds to a fixation. Nothing less than standing atop the sullit of Katahdin can satisfy the itch. One is driven forever forward, stopping at nothing and stopped by nothing until getting there.