how it started
The answer, in a slightly convoluted way, is Canada, and Canada’s decision to extend the working holiday visa age to 35.
This decision meant that I was suddenly re-eligible for a Canadian visa. I thought “Maybe I could move to Canada?” That’s what I did, moving to the Canadian Rockies in March 2021. The Rockies, in my completely biased opinion, are one of the best places in the world for all types of outdoor adventures – from many miles of trails for running, biking, hiking and other adventures. I have to do a lot of hiking here, and it has only increased my love for outdoor adventure.
plant a seed
In December 2021, I was at the Canmore Library, looking for a book to read. “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson caught my eye. I had read this book, which is about his hike on the Appalachian Trail, many years ago and remember loving it. So I borrowed it and gave it another reading. The next time I was in the library there was a non-fiction photo book called “The Appalachians”. Then shortly after I was reading an article on a new Australian site about the Camino de Santiago (a long hike in Spain), and a section at the bottom of the article referred to other long hikes, including the Appalachian Trail . I started feeling like the world was suggesting I do TA. As with my decision to move to Canada in the first place, I thought “Maybe I could hike the Appalachian Trail?”
Originally I was investigating a three month section hike. This is because I was due to return to my job as a lawyer in Melbourne in October 2022 and had already signed up for an ultramarathon in southern Alberta in early July 2022. I asked on the Facebook group “Appalachian Trail Hikers 2022” (a great resource!) for suggestions on which part of the AT I should try, given the start date I’m suggesting. The overwhelming response was to start at Mount Katahdin and walk south as far as possible. It seemed like a great idea.
Cultivate the idea
The more articles and books I read, the more YouTube videos I watched, and the more conversations I had with people, the more I thought “Maybe I could do it all?” Luckily my boss back home in Australia was super understanding (he’s an avid hiker himself). When I offered to delay my return to work date to early 2023 so I could walk all of TA, he was okay with it.
So now I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail Sobo (SOBO? SoBo?) starting in mid-July 2022 until I get to Springer Mountain, or my six-month United States visa States is sold out, whichever comes first. This will be a huge step forward for me. Although I’m an avid runner and outdoor enthusiast, I’ve mostly done day hikes only. The only multi-day hike I’ve ever done was an eleven-day “flash-packing” style hike of the Haute Route in Switzerland in 2018. However, anyone who knows me knows that I love the adventure and I love challenges! I’m super excited (and nervous!) about my biggest and toughest adventure yet!
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