Posted by: blinklove | April 2, 2010

A Note From Heather

Just two weeks before setting out for the AT in 2007

Hello Everyone!! Hope you are all well and happy.  I have been receiving a few questions which I would like to take the time to answer here.

The Big One- Why are you doing this?

I have so many responses to this question, each pertaining to specific details in the trip  but all encompassed by, because I want to and it is a good thing to do- beneficial to myself and others.

I will start with, why on earth would one physically want to hike over 2,000 miles?  I asked myself this questions many times before heading out for the Appalachian Trail in 2007.  I had only done a little bit of forced hiking when I was younger, and hated it more than anything.  I was about 16 when I first learned the goal of a thru-hiker on the AT.  Plagued by hunger as my pack weighed far too heavy on my back and blisters ripped open my feet, I became infuriated while attempting to understand the mindset of these hikers and how they would actually hike for so long at free will.

But what can I say, with age comes wisdom and no less hypocrisy a knack for seeing the world through different eyes.  At 20, I had left a confusing life in Florida and returned to the comforting arms of Winston-Salem.  I was not in the best state however, I had no direction and felt undeserving and lazy, a leech on the community.  I was volunteering at the Humane Society, but it was only a few hours a week and once I returned home I fell back into my sullen shell.  It was at this time my dear friend I met at boarding school, Caity Spire, proposed the idea the two of us walk from Maine to Georgia.  For the first time, this sounded like an alright idea.  I wasn’t feeling great in society, why not try out the woods for six months?

This idea gave me a means of motivation for which I was desperate. The cloudy job search  that had left me hopeless was granted a new ray of light when I was told a shop owner downtown was looking for some part-time help over the holidays.  I set off for my interview to meet a woman named Kelly Petersen.

Kelly Petersen owned a beautiful, funky, creative boutique on 6th street called Patina.  I walked in the door and looked to my left finding a grown, beautiful girl sitting on a step, covered in glitter, with a rubber snaggle-toothed monster smiling and dancing on the end of each finger tip.  I will never forget that.  I knew instantly this was the job that had been waiting for me, this would work out, and Kelly would be much more than my boss.  I worked through Christmas and New Years with her, and she asked if I would stay. I told her I would love to, but I had to leave in May, for that was when Caity and I planned to head for Maine.

Kelly and I spent many hours talking about life.  We shared our pasts with each other and our dreams for the future.  She quite fancied my hiking ambitions, and gave me random bits of advice when they came to her.  I had explained to her my passion for animal rescue, and stories from humane societies over the years.  I told her how I would miss it while gone for six months. One day I heard my favorite Kelly phrase, “I have an idea!” She showed me how I could raise money for animal rescue while hiking by making pledge forms and taking donations.  Oh how I miss her voice, her heart, her brilliance…

But back to the original question- Why hike, besides just to live in the woods?  The more I thought about it, the more I was able to put my rambling thoughts into short, concise phrases: To create my appetite, and earn my sleep.  I wanted to work so hard physically, that I felt the hunger roaring inside me.  I wanted to know that each bite of food I ate was vital to my existence and necessary.  I wanted to know that every time I rested, I slept, I merely sat down, that I deserved it.  I had questioned the meaning of my life to the point I did not care if I did not care if I was alive.  I wanted this foolish, circular, stagnant way of thinking to be but a thing from the past.

I wanted to declare independence for myself. I wanted to rely on no one but myself to survive. I wanted to escape from the weight of materialistic possessions and carry absolutely everything I needed on my back.  I wanted to reestablish a connection with nature I had so devastatingly lost as a teenager. I wanted to become closer to my dog than ever before, along with Caity and her dog.  I wanted to finally do something of which I could be very proud.

I completed the hike in December of 2007, six and a half months after I started.  While on the AT I began hearing about a trail on the other side of the country running all through California, the Pacific Crest Trail.  I wondered about it here and there, declaring I had no desire whatsoever in it while crawling up the grueling and persistent mountains of the AT while trying to ignore a little something called Planters Fasciitis.  Yet other times I felt it calling to me, and I did not doubt I would someday hear it again in the future.

The immediate reasons for hiking the PCT are more evolved and less self-absorbed then the AT, but Lord knows I will really benefit from the advantages I personally will receive.  I really love people, but it sure can be hard not to get caught up on silly meaningless products in this society that has grown around us.  I can’t wait to be stripped again, though I know the pain and discomfort it will bring.  Long distance hiking is wonderful, but let me tell you, it is ppppaaaiiinnnfffuuulllllll.

I want to hike the PCT and raise money for animal rescue because I want to show people that they can do something they love while benefitting something they are passionate about.  I want to help the Forsyth Humane Society, Fur-Ever Friends, and Best Friends Animal Society as much as I can because of the hit they took last year and sudden lack of funds they had counted on from years previously. I want to meet trail people, and remember how amazing it can feel sometimes to just sit down. I want to be reminded everyday of what a gift life truly is.

There are more questions, but I hate to bore you all with too much now.  I promise to write again soon!

Lovelovelove   and  stay blinked!

heather~

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Responses

  1. Heather… WOW! Feel like I understand so much more now. Love from W-S coming your way.

  2. Heather, I know how much you need to do this, and I am so thankful that Kelly came into your life when she did.
    I really like the reason you are doing this, and that you explained more about the AT hike and your life.
    I have no doubt in my mind that you will finish this jouney and make a huge difference in the lives of so many. Afterall, you made a huge difference when you hiked the AT, which was when I got to know this incredible person named Heather.


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