It has been estimated that 2-3 million people visit the Appalachian Trail every year and last year about 1,800–2,000 people attempted to “thru-hike” the distance from Georgia to Maine. Only 1 in 4 (25%) who attempts a thru-hike successfully completes the journey. An estimated 12,000 people have hiked the full length of the trail since it was completed in 1937.
The journey usually takes five to seven months but the land speed record, held by Jennifer Pharr Davis, is 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes – an average of 46.9 miles per day. Jennifer’s record is not in jeopardy with my hike although I hope to finish somewhere between 120-150 days.
Why do I want to hike so far? People from across the globe are drawn to the A.T. for a variety of reasons: to draw near to nature or experience a spiritual connection with the Creator, to escape the stress of city life or the frustration of materialism, to meet new people or deepen old friendships, to experience a simpler life or to search for healing from a recent loss. For me, the answer is complex. I want to go in order to provide tuition for more families to experience Christian education. I also want to go because I have a sense of calling…a feeling of urgency…. an unavoidable pull to the trail. It is really hard to explain but I am very confident that I need to; I must; I am compelled to make this journey. I expect to learn some life-changing lessons along the way…to gain some spiritual insights that will draw me ever closer to God Himself…to make some encounters with others that will result in deep conversations. The simple answer is: I don’t know the exact “why,” but I know that I must not miss this opportunity.