There is a part of me, a large part of me, that thinks the dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail is still unattainable.
I have 2 dozen boxes of food in the basement. I have my gear packed. I have blogged and written, and re-written the same thoughts from a logical stand point. I have planned and crunched and gotten time off and spoken to friends and family for hours about going for a six month mountain jaunt. But it doesn't yet feel real.
The 50+ days standing between me and the Approach Trail is a gulf wider than I can see. The Trail, though conceived and idly turned within my mind, is over a distant horizon. My mind hums in anticipation, like a child waiting for Christmas, I have not felt the days between myself and something so acutely. It is agony, the anticipation, but it is also sweet. Sweet to want something, sweet to have something in life that makes me so honed in on the future.I will feel this way in the days leading up to marriage, or the days winding down to retirement. I can think of nothing else with such happy anticipation.
And yet apart of me hasn't yet accepted that I am going. A part of me feels that something will happen to prevent me from going. Will I feel this until the moment my foot breaks the plane under the arch at Amicalola? Will it take days after starting the Trail to sink in that I am really really walking the secret paths of the world, where the lonely look for a companionable fire, where the pilgrims all search for something they know not what?
Will I feel this way at the end of the Trail? Will I be as eager to come back? I will be missing Cara fiercely, I will be anticipating life again, hopefully not dreading work. But I feel seeing Katahdin will be bitter sweet, the end of a thing I have wanted to start for so long. Here I am, unable to imagine the beginning of the journey, imagining how I will feel at the end!