I’m resorting to using a prompt at WordPress for this post, not because I don’t have anything to say but because the word “sacrifice” touches on something regarding hiking and my future plans. I have a friend with a friend who has never hiked the AT because he’s been told it’s a “selfish act” (and for some reason this took root). This person breathes hiking and is planning doing the Long Trail in Vermont this summer; he is over the moon with giddiness about this because it’s a ‘thru-hike’.
I’ve read only a few times that doing the AT is ‘selfish’. I really don’t understand that. My assumption would be that spouses, bosses, or maybe anxious parents/friends/family feel that the hiker is putting their own desires, needs, dreams ahead of those of others’ – i.e. just stay ‘home’ and Live the American Scheme like everyone else and don’t upset the routine.
I can’t really say personally why someone would react as if selfishness is what doing the AT is all about because I haven’t told anyone yet that it’s my plan. For all I know, my family might feel that I am being selfish. I don’t think so but…you never know. I feel that I’ve sacrificed my life to the routine that it has been because it was the ‘responsible’ thing to do: school, family, job with very occasional deviations to ‘enjoy living’ (if anyone has the means, they might use a week or two per year to do something that they really love).
Hiking the AT might be a selfish act but six months out of, what will be, almost 54 years of my life is small potatos. I think of my life thus far as a sacrifice of my authentic self. Hiking the AT might turn out to be another sacrifice: I will probably have to quit my job to do it (I don’t think a ‘leave of absense’ will be likely but I will try that first), I haven’t yet figured out what to do about my two small dogs (I don’t really want to find someone to care for them for six months -a sacrifice leaving them behind and worrying, but taking them along is another sacrifice as the hike is now much more complicated), and finally, leaving my family for six months with minimal contact is going to be very difficult. My visit to my brother in the Philippines for two weeks had me weeping because I missed them so much.
There are many sacrifices made by those deciding to thru-hike the AT but it’s a sacrifice of the spirit NOT to do what you so desire, what you are compelled to do. You have to live your own life, hike your own hike.