I set off to hike the Appalachian Trail in a few weeks and I am starting to get nervous! Only one in four hikers that attempt a thru hike actually finish the 2,189 miles of trail. I have done my best to physically prepare for the trip. More importantly, I have been trying to mentally prepare for the trip. I have a journal I will be taking, and on the first page I have written some helpful notes to inspire me in times of doubt. This way, when I am getting eaten by bugs and don't think I can take another step, I can look at my list and remember why I took this trek. Much of my inspiration will remain private to only me, but there is one example I would like to share.
It all started when I attended Salem College, an all women's college in Winston-Salem, NC. Salem is steeped in rich history. Founded in 1772, it is the first all-womens college in the United States and the 13th oldest school in the nation.
More important is how it was founded. A group of 15 Moravian women walked from Bethlehem, PA, to North Carolina in 1766 to found the school. They walked over 500 miles to help start a school that would educate women, a not so popular idea in the 18th century. They did it without cuben fiber tents, easy water treatment drops, pre-packaged food, or a blazed trail! It makes me feel spoiled, but also thankful, that I will be able to go on my journey with all of my ultralight gear.
My 2,189 mile journey will be tough, but not nearly as perilous as the Salem Sisters' quest to establish my beloved Alma Mater. Without them I may not be who I am today, and I may never have found the courage to try this trek on my own. So whenever I have a moment of doubt, I will make sure to think of the sacrifices my Salem Sisters, both past and present, have made for one another.
I think it is safe to say you might catch me humming this song as I walk:
Strong are thy walls O Salem
Thy virgin trees stand tall
And far a thwart the sun lit hills
Their stately shadows fall
Then sing we of Salem ever...
You know the rest! So, if there are any Salem women in the 14 states along the trail that would like to walk even a mile with me, just let me know!