Happy New Year!! 2014 was a year away when the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail first germinated in my mind. Now 2014 is upon us and the countdown to the trailhead ticks with the sound of the present. The distant thunder is rolling closer as the calendar unfurls toward the month of April. Cold feet, doubts of completion, and fears of the unknown shout at my enthusiasm, excitement and calling to the trail. Just 114 days after the ball drop in Times Square, my foot will hopefully drop on the top of Springer Mountain with a mere 5 million more footfalls until Mount Katahdin.
A lot needs to happen in the next 114 days. I need to finalize on my gear and supply list (REI, here I come!). I need to think through resupply stops and a mailing system. I need to practice hanging my food bag from trees. I hope to hike another 500 miles in preparation. I want to try my hand at dehydrating some food for the trail. I must prepare myself spiritually and emotionally for the journey. I have a lot more reading to do and several more blogs to post before the Georgia sun wakes me out of my tent.
The anticipation of hiking throughout the cold (even frigid) weather of January and February will hopefully help me appreciate the signs of spring. From the starkness of winter dominated by the browns of a leafless forest will come the greens of grass blades, the color of wild flowers and the warm breezes of change. The frozen tundra will turn to mud with the promise of firm footing just weeks ahead. The many shades winter – the pure white of fresh snow and the never-ending nuance of black, brown, and gray painting the bleakness of the frozen path – will quickly and almost suddenly transform into the colors of life. The songs of birds, although never absent from the woods, will seem to crescendo with a chorus of springtime announcements. Out of the silence of the winter path will come the movement of animals and the sounds of weekend hikers awkwardly blazing through the trail ahead. But for now, the cold awaits.