I spend a lot of time on the Internet nowadays…researching gear, comparing gear, ordering gear, etc. I read a lot of forums from previous thru hikers and from those who, like me, are planning a thru hike this year. There seems to be a common theme to the forums and that is preparation.

Reasonably, your first thought on that should be directed towards gear and physical preparation and I would say you are mostly…well almost mostly right.

Everything I have heard and read says that after you have hiked a few days you become aware of how poorly you chose your gear as far as weight is concerned…and most stop at a small town called Neels Gap to unload stuff that previously they could not imagine doing without! Now since I’m not planning on having a plan (at least not much of one) I can’t say whether I will be making a pit stop in Neels Gap or not, so who knows…

The point here is that from what I can see you really can’t be completely prepared from a gear stand point, and believe me I am doing everything I can to try and be!

So what about physical preparation? Am I physically prepared to hike 15 to 18 miles a day with 30 pounds on my back and daily elevation, temperature and weather changes? I have read forums about hikers sleeping outside in the cold or down in their basements to acclimate to the upcoming environment. Have I been pulling on my hiking boots, loading my pack with 30 pounds of junk and walking 10 miles a day to prepare?

Negative.

Why you ask? Because physical preparation is not at the top of my list (mind you it is real close). Because outside of an injury or illness I am not going to be physically defeated! Sure I’m going to hurt, I’m going to be uncomfortable maybe even miserable at times…but that will not keep me from going. The only thing that can truly defeat me is my heart and mind in the metaphysical sense so lets lump all that together and call it my spirit.

So I am doing spiritual preparations and this certainly includes working it out with God for the amount of time I will be spending with Him on the trail. But am also preparing myself “spiritually” from a deeper place within myself. I am preparing for the simplicity and solitude of life I am about to experience…if anything…this could be my Achilles Heel.

How does one go about such preparations? Honestly, I have no clue! But I can tell you what I am doing. First I have simplified my life, I do not want to worry about whether my pipes are properly wrapped or if my yard is getting mowed, so I sold my house.
I don’t want to worry about whether my position will be the same when I get back with the company or if others have advanced further then me so I am only doing contract work.
And finally, and probably the hardest I am detaching from my ministry and my kids (students I work with…I have no biological children). This has been hard since teens, who most would try to avoid in adulthood, are my life blood so to speak. So I spend less time with them, I have stepped down from ministry and only hang out with a few. I am honest with them about what I am doing, that this is where God is leading me right now, and I promise them I will be back…because I will.

I am compartmentalizing my relationships. I am making sure that I’m not leaving any unfinished “business” at home. I am meeting with people in my life to let them know, personally, what I am doing and that they are still part of my life. I’m not closing doors, I am making sure that they are wedge open…

This is my true preparation…

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