Part One
If you’ve ever been out in the woods, you know why. If you’ve never been out in the woods, I strongly recommend you head out for a walk.

My favorite warning sign ever!
My favorite warning sign ever!

I’m not a bark eating kinda guy, but being outside, to me at least, has always delivered tangible benefits. Taking a break from the daily grind and heading out for some fresh air can be cleansing to both body and soul. After completing a strenuous section of a hike, an uphill climb for example, you’re definitely left with a sense of accomplishment. And, nature can be so amazing. The little things, the big things, both can leave me in awe. Comradery, strengthening relationships, these are some additional paybacks to time spent outdoors.

And, with the climate changing so dramatically, who knows what the future holds. Will trees I see on my hike still be around in the future? I sure hope so, but no one really knows. Will they need to reroute parts of the trail due to overuse or erosion? Again, no one knows for sure so I’d like to attempt the Springer to Katahdin version, thank you very much!

Part Two
On the subject of risk, I think households are split in one of two ways. There are those parents that encourage their children to take risks and there are those parents that do not encourage their children to take risks. I grew up in the latter. Risk adverse would be an understatement. In fact, after “Kenny, come practice your accordion,” what I heard most from my Mom was, “would you rather be a scared chicken or a dead duck?” Little wonder I have no friends from the old neighborhood! As an aside, to finance this trip, I sold that accordion, my piano and a bike.

One final rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee!

Thankfully I made it to adulthood, but not without, as you can imagine, a certain ingrained avoidance of risk. Given the constant refrain “what would you rather be…”, if the saying “the rewards are commensurate with the risks” is true, I wonder how many rewards I missed out on? I guess it’s finally time to find out. Time to finally jettison the last vestiges of parental baggage! (Really Ken, the last? Who am I kidding!)

I fully understand and appreciate that there will be some bad days, some horrible days actually, but doesn’t that just make the good days all the more special and satisfying? Given the composite of possible experiences, the social interaction, the power and beauty of nature up close and personal, the time to contemplate what has been and what can be, I’m hoping that my time on the AT will be amazingly rewarding.