Bring only the essentials

In 2012 I was inspired to hike a 500-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail. I had read a book called A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and thought the hike would be a meaningful experience. I had also just concluded a three-year term as First Reader at my Christian Science church, so it seemed like a good time for me to launch into something new.

I listed 20 reasons why I wanted to hike the trail and how I thought it would move me forward spiritually. Then I thought about how I was already prepared to make such a trek. I was, and still am, an experienced hiker. As an Eagle Scout, I’d had a good deal of outdoor experience, and in the past several years I had taken three 50-mile hikes. I had never undertaken such strenuous exercise over such a prolonged period of time (500 miles would take two months), but I decided to get in condition by hiking again on the weekends.

Even though I was physically preparing myself, a number of fears and concerns arose within me. The idea of encountering snakes, spiders, and ticks that are said to spread disease worried me. I was concerned about being exposed to poisonous plants I wouldn’t recognize, dealing with injuries, and being confronted by wild animals. I also worried that something bad could happen while I was alone and without help. On top of that, I own a business and was worried about its operation in my absence.

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