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View Full Version : why i gave up a dream, and how i learned my lesson



Hill Ape
08-22-2013, 02:01
Just meeting my monthly sharing quota. Not even sure I want anyone to read this.

I was born and raised just about as close to Springer as anyone lives. I've always loved the trail. A thru hike was an inevitable dream. Postponed every year since I graduated high school, always the responsible choice. Never regretted it. Took a pilgrimage on the Camino, thought that scratched the itch.

Until my youngest son died. Then I started thinking about all his dreams that will never be. Then I was diagnosed with a life altering disease. I gave up on life for a minute. All that did was fill me with a shame I can't fully describe.

The next year I was browsing books to prepare, imagine my shock when my name was on the cover of one. Good Badger and I share a legal name. How dare I hike the trail without me. I felt taunted, challenged. And still I had a nagging doubt. Would my health hold out?

And then I found Dirty Girls journal. He was in Pennsylvania at the time. Thru hiking with the same disease I live with. Openly doing it to raise awareness for something I can barely admit to. Wish I had met him sooner. I followed every day of the rest of his hike. And when he made it, I was left with no more excuses.

I didn't raise any of my son's to ever give up.

I want to thank Billy, Zach, and Ross for inspiring me when I stumbled. I will climb katahdin at the end of a thru hike. And I will carry each of you with me. Hillbilly, Good Badger, and Dirty Girl.

Why am I going to thru hike? Because I've always wanted to. Because my hillbilly will never hike again. Because someone with my name wrote a great book. Because I'm living with AIDS, not dying from it. Because Ross did it first, he set the record, the pressure is off me. I'm simply proud to follow.

The recent thread about records, and pushing personal limits got me to thinking about this. So dear reader, if you read this whole thing, now you know my shameful secret. Now you know my answer to the question... why?

moytoy
08-22-2013, 02:37
Godspeed to you Hill Ape.

Just Bill
08-22-2013, 03:22
Well fella- other than being less interested than before in being your trail "girlfriend"- I hope to see you out there. The woods fixes a lot of problems- you got big problems- sounds like you need a big hike. Oddly I just posted in the thread you're talking about- Always strive for better- otherwise you're already dead.

I'd tell ya good luck- but sounds like you already got it figured out. So have a good trip.

Trebor66
08-22-2013, 06:49
This post put some things into perspective for me. Thanks for bearing your soul, god bless.

Crazy Larry #1
08-22-2013, 07:37
Well when you get to Damacus you can stay with me if I am still here at Crazy Larry's......

Hang in there, you are one of the champs!

Hill Ape
08-22-2013, 07:52
Lol Bill. Laughter is always the best medicine. And there are no problems, only solutions. On that note, I'm going to go sing along to my favorite scene in team America, fk yeah

Everybody's got......!

Water Rat
08-22-2013, 08:10
"Keep your sails set through the night, for even in the dark, there's light. Life hold happiness more than it seems; it's never too late to follow your dreams... Life renews and love forgives and the hope of childhood... forever lives." - Jody Bergsma

Best wishes for the best possible hike! :)

hikerboy57
08-22-2013, 08:29
no shame.
none.
i saw a bumper sticker said"if god doesnt give you more than you can handle, he must think i'm a badass."
never lose faith in the spirit within you and the power of love.
all power to ya, hill ape.

Meriadoc
08-22-2013, 09:18
So dear reader, if you read this whole thing, now you know my [redacted] secret. Now you know my answer to the question... why?
Fixed that for you. Bravo and hike on!

Nutbrown
08-22-2013, 09:24
Shouldn't be a shameful secret. You have my respect. Hike on!

marshbirder
08-22-2013, 09:32
Shouldn't be a shameful secret. You have my respect. Hike on!

^ This

Proud of you!

DandT40
08-22-2013, 09:55
Thanks for sharing your story. It's great to see people push themselves in the face of adversity. I wish you the best on your hike!

Edro
08-22-2013, 10:06
Your are a very couragious man and you have my respect!

treesloth
08-22-2013, 10:25
You are THE MAN. Godspeed to you as well, and thank you for the inspiration and reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Are you going for a '14 attempt then?

PeaPicker
08-22-2013, 10:26
To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.
Ralph Waldo Trine

You Sir are now have become a condition and circumstance,for me.Good hiking!

Blissful
08-22-2013, 10:31
Go for it, live the dream, don't just dream. I would also make sure though you are ready with your illness also, under a Dr's care, so the dream can be reached.

Hill Ape
08-22-2013, 10:32
Thanks for the encouragement, truely. But I can tell you from experience, if you want to see how quickly friends and family exit stage left out of your life, tell them you're positive. It's a very effective litmus test. I'm not complaining about that, it is what it is. You find out who your friends are. Then tell your family you will still thru hike. You find out who truely believes in you.

Spirit Walker
08-22-2013, 10:38
So, when do you plan to leave, and what are you doing now to make sure you can hike the whole trail? Hiking as much as possible, spending time in the woods, refining your gear and building your strength - those things you can start doing today.

Blissful
08-22-2013, 10:41
No one believed in my thru hike until I did it. :) :) They think you're crazy anyway.

PeaPicker
08-22-2013, 10:48
Thanks for the encouragement, truely. But I can tell you from experience, if you want to see how quickly friends and family exit stage left out of your life, tell them you're positive. It's a very effective litmus test. I'm not complaining about that, it is what it is. You find out who your friends are. Then tell your family you will still thru hike. You find out who truely believes in you.

ahh but the final exam is how YOU apply that litmus test.If you truly believe in yourself, it matters not what others think.Just sayin!

hikerboy57
08-22-2013, 10:54
Thanks for the encouragement, truely. But I can tell you from experience, if you want to see how quickly friends and family exit stage left out of your life, tell them you're positive. It's a very effective litmus test. I'm not complaining about that, it is what it is. You find out who your friends are. Then tell your family you will still thru hike. You find out who truely believes in you.
it is what it is.

just like the trail, life holds new challenges each and every day. to accept those challenges for what they are, rather than wish that things were different, and to work through those challenges, taking it one day at a time, is an incredible growth process.

Autummyst
08-22-2013, 11:10
Thanks for sharing your story. I think it's awesome you're going to hike the trail.

How is preparation going? When are you heading off?

Happy Trails!

Hill Ape
08-22-2013, 11:44
To the question of when. When I first crawled out of the hole I put myself in I wanted to go immediately. If not now, when. But if I wait another couple years, I'm eligible to take a leave of absence without losing job or medical coverage. An important consideration. I've got a great career, and I'm at the top of my industry. I dont want to lose that. Also if I wait my other sons will be out of school. They each want to be a part of it, if not the whole thing at least sections. And certainly the 100 mile wood. As far as gear and savings I could go anytime. I've got a great kit, spent far too much money on it, even if I can't bring myself to buy cuben. My feathered friends bag was a big indulgence, I always wanted one. Physically, despite medical issues to the contrary, I'm in great health and conditioning. I run Rich Mountain daily, not as prep, it's just something I've always done. Four years ago I cycled the route of the tour de france with my father. Endurance sports are nothing new to me. Most of the mental lessons of a long hike I learned on the Camino. Honestly, I feel as ready as I can ever be. I think 15 will be my year.

illabelle
08-22-2013, 11:44
Inspirational story! Best of luck to you.

Teacher & Snacktime
08-22-2013, 11:54
I see no shame here. You must be looking in the wrong mirror. Good luck to you on your thru, and if Snacktime and I can find you along your way we'll consider ourselves lucky to meet someone with your courage.

Just Bill
08-22-2013, 13:29
Hey Hill Ape- since you are doing pretty well financially- perhaps you'd consider the Magic solution.... http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s12e01-tonsil-trouble

Hill Ape
08-22-2013, 13:45
Haha love that one too. There's a funny family guy episode as well. If I couldn't laugh about it, I'd have ran out of tears long ago.

And don't get the wrong idea, I ain't rich, Romney doesn't even think I'm middle class. I try to never forget, at the end of the day I'm just a mechanic.

Just Bill
08-22-2013, 13:50
oh...You're only Georgia rich...now I do feel bad for you;)

Crazy Larry #1
08-22-2013, 14:23
Thanks for the encouragement, truely. But I can tell you from experience, if you want to see how quickly friends and family exit stage left out of your life, tell them you're positive. It's a very effective litmus test. I'm not complaining about that, it is what it is. You find out who your friends are. Then tell your family you will still thru hike. You find out who truely believes in you.
I do not care if you are positive or not, you are welcomed in my hostel.....wonder I have not gotten it, sure had a lot of friends that had it.....

mattyoc20
08-22-2013, 16:38
Best of luck in your hike. I'm pulling for ya. keep your chin up.

A.T.Lt
08-22-2013, 16:54
Amazing story! Don't let anything stop you or get in your way! I think I could speak for everyone here that you have all of our support and respect!

turtle fast
08-22-2013, 17:06
The BIG thing is you have realized a dream.......a dream you want......a dream to memorialize others.....a dream that is bigger than yourself.....a dream you can obtain.

the goat
08-22-2013, 19:41
To the question of when. When I first crawled out of the hole I put myself in I wanted to go immediately. If not now, when. But if I wait another couple years, I'm eligible to take a leave of absence without losing job or medical coverage. An important consideration. I've got a great career, and I'm at the top of my industry. I dont want to lose that. Also if I wait my other sons will be out of school. They each want to be a part of it, if not the whole thing at least sections. And certainly the 100 mile wood. As far as gear and savings I could go anytime. I've got a great kit, spent far too much money on it, even if I can't bring myself to buy cuben. My feathered friends bag was a big indulgence, I always wanted one. Physically, despite medical issues to the contrary, I'm in great health and conditioning. I run Rich Mountain daily, not as prep, it's just something I've always done. Four years ago I cycled the route of the tour de france with my father. Endurance sports are nothing new to me. Most of the mental lessons of a long hike I learned on the Camino. Honestly, I feel as ready as I can ever be. I think 15 will be my year.
amen, i promise you'll have the time of your life! enjoy the planning, and more importantly, enjoy your journey!

canoe
08-22-2013, 21:29
Stay strong HA. A BIG DREAM and a great challege. A quote from the movie Waterboy "You can do it" Make sure you share your journal so we can keep up with you. Good luck

Sailing_Faith
08-22-2013, 23:32
Hell yes! H Y O H man, hike it! Very inspirational post, and replies.... Look forward to hearing about your hike.

mrgadget921
08-23-2013, 00:23
every single day has been, and will, be a gift! rejoice and share every moment!
just lost "my wife for life" {25 yrs} congestive heart, diabetes, knew it was coming...
"she loved to the very last beat"
that is how I would hope to be remembered!
after it all said and done..... we hope to live on in other peoples memories!
"to have made a difference!"

rocketsocks
08-23-2013, 00:26
Thanks for sharing that Hill Ape, wishing you well on your hike and every day there after.

CB1821
08-23-2013, 07:29
“every single day has been, and will, be a gift! rejoice and share every moment!
just lost "my wife for life" {25 yrs} congestive heart, diabetes, knew it was coming...
"she loved to the very last beat" Mr.G

I am sorry for your loss. Sounds like you both had a good and caring 25 years together.

“I can tell you from experience, if you want to see how quickly friends and family exit stage left out of your life, tell them you're positive.” HA

I have friends that work with patients that are HIV positive. They say the stigma attached to a diagnosis of HIV is not what it used to be, but it is still out there and your experience with rejection from family members and others is not unusual at all. That would be tough to take on top of having to deal with a serious medical diagnosis.

Their advice/input – for most people with a diagnosis of HIV; if take your meds regularly (if you are on them yet), stay in medical care, exercise and eat “right”, then you are as likely as anyone else to live to a ripe old age. But then you probably already know that.

Sounds like you went through pretty rough times and came out the other side as good as or better than you went in. Cool.

Best of luck on your hike, whenever you do it.

Rain Man
08-23-2013, 09:08
every single day has been, and will, be a gift! rejoice and share every moment!
just lost "my wife for life" {25 yrs} congestive heart, diabetes, knew it was coming...
"she loved to the very last beat"

Mr. Gadget, condolences to you and thanks for sharing your pain and your "promise." We all need reminders that mortal life is short, to live and to love.


I'm living with AIDS, not dying from it. ...s. So dear reader, if you read this whole thing, now you know my shameful secret.

My brother (well, one of my two brothers, that is) died of AIDS in the early 90s. He walks with me on many a trail and mountain top to this day. More power to you, Hill Ape.

Rain Man

.

Trillium
08-23-2013, 21:00
Your story puts me in mind of one of my favorite inspirational movie quotes:

Andy Dufresne (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000209/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Sounds to me that you are getting busy living. Kudos!
Look forward to following your journey, if you do a TJ, that is. :)

rocketsocks
08-23-2013, 21:23
Get busy living, or get busy dying.


Always liked that saying.

nu2hike
08-24-2013, 10:02
May I ask if you're HIV positive or if you have AIDS. The reason I ask is that I have a friend who just converted to AIDS. He has been HIV positive for years and has never let his disease slow him down in any way!
Now that he converted he is showing signs of depression! I would like to share your story with him. To let him know that even with AIDs he can continue to live life to the fullest taking whatever path he chooses!
I wish you the very best!

WalksInDark
08-24-2013, 12:09
Your story is an inspiration for me.

Paraphrasing Rocketsocks and/or Lone Wolf who said (sic) "A thru hike is just walking": you don't have a disease....just an ongoing illness.... which sometimes is in remission :p:p Neither a disease or an illness is worthy of others scorn or contempt. "Let him who is without sin throw the first stone....etc." To put it another way, finding out who your true friends are might be worth the price of admission (AIDS).

May your courage and optimism continue to keep your dream(s) alive! :clap:clap

Being able to achieve your life goals when everything is going your way....is no big achievement.

Continuing to struggle to achieve your life goals in the face of great adversity and health setbacks....PRICELESS!

Keep up the good fight and keep us updated on your progress toward doing the thru hike.

(BTW, if ultimately your thru hikes ends 1950 miles, or 500 miles, or even 5 miles from the finish line...you are still a WINNER. The whiners, are those who: never even start their thru hikes; and those who continue to "Plan" their thrus but don't bother to try to get in shape...or even begin making the equipment purchases necessary to support a thru hike attempt.

Hill Ape
08-24-2013, 12:17
Nu 2, I was diagnosed full blown. Unfortunately I fit a stereotype of many that don't know they are positive until they get sick. I'm not exactly a high risk lifestyle. But there was a time years ago when I had a monkey on my back. I'm fairly confident I shoved this virus into my arm. Thankfully, I never transmitted to anyone, not sure I could carry that guilt.

I'd be happy to talk to your friend, beyond knowing his turmoil I have a suspicion of a contributing cause. Most of the gifts line gold standard HART meds contain a drug that takes a heavy toll psychologically. Absolutely, a diagnosis of AIDS is not a death sentence. PM me, I'm on a tablet at work right now but will get back to you when I'm home.

Hill Ape
08-24-2013, 12:20
The word gifts should be read "first" hate taptalk

Firefighter503
08-26-2013, 07:54
Thanks for sharing your story/plan, truly inspirational.