I picked up this book after a friend recommended it to me. I've heard of the Appalachian Trail and remember being pleasantly surprised at how much I loved Reece Witherspoon's movie 'Wild' about the Pacific Coast Trail so I thought why not give it a try.
I. Was. Floored. at how much I loved this book.
Never before have I had the desire to hike 2,175 miles while carrying everything I would need day in and day out on my back but now its a life goal. Okay, not really but the desire to simplify, cut back, notice things, focus on what matters has been fueled even more.
One thing I was learning to love about the trail was the sense of community. I hadn't seen Raptor for hundreds of miles, but now we were together again and it felt like we were family. And if I hadn't run into Raptor, then I probably would have found another familiar face, or someone who knew someone I knew.
Trail community is a strange concept, because it's always in flux. Sometimes, mostly down South, I would find myself in a brood of hikers. Other times I would be happy for the company of just one or two, and a lot of the time especially up North, I was content to be alone and know that there were other hikers ahead of me and behind me. There was never a time, even if I was alone, when I didn't feel part of larger community.
Maybe the fact that I wasn't lonely had more to do with the quality of relationships than the quantity. The problem in life is that there are a lot of people who knew what I was, but didn't know who I was. No wonder there is so much pressure to look a certain way, when usually the only thing people get to know is someone's outer image. When I spent time with someone on the trail, it could be for a few minutes or a few days, but the time was focused. There were no distractions and few inhibitions. When we parted ways, they didn't just know my profile, they knew my person. They knew what I liked and didn't like, how I felt, what I wanted to be, and what mattered to me. And just as importantly, I knew them.