Monday, July 7, 2014

Ironjen's Inspiration for a Thru-hike

When I was twelve years old, the son of one of my dad’s high school friends thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.  My mom mentioned it to me, and though the conversation couldn’t have lasted more than 5 minutes, it has stayed in my mind for 25 years.

Long before that list of life goals and dreams was called a “bucket list,” such a list was forming in my mind.  What an adventure it would be to hike over 2000 miles of mountains!

I’m someone who has always felt a deep desire to live unconventionally.  I used to tell my high school boyfriend that I wanted to live somewhere that “smelled far away.”  My favorite days were the ones where a spontaneous road trip took me to a meadow, a mountain, a place where there was space, and I could breathe.  My favorite vacations were in the mountains, and they involved communing with trees and rocks and dirt and icy streams.

As a senior in high school, a classmate asked me what I would be studying in college the following year, and I really didn’t know.  I answered that I really didn’t even want to go to college.  I wanted to go to the woods.  She looked at me like I was crazy, and some part of me felt wrong for what I wanted.

So, I went to college.  I finished a semester early with a solid GPA and a degree tailor made for my Washington, DC upbringing, Government and Politics.  That was 1999; 10 years after the idea of a thru-hike had entered my mind.

I rushed into a job, a marriage, and homeownership, and I woke up one day in the midst of my life wondering how I would ever do my thru-hike with all of these responsibilities.  I felt like I made a series of huge mistakes.

I'm not one to dwell on things I "should have" done, so I just aimed to live life a little differently a little bit at a time, and over the last 15 years, have managed to get my life much closer to how I want it to look and feel.  It took a divorce, an eight-year career in law enforcement, a five-year battle with debilitating and "incurable" dermatomyositis, a forced retirement, four Ironman triathlon finishes, and marrying Jeff/Muskrat to get me here, but I am FINALLY ready to take on the adventure that has been on my mind for 25 years!

To the trail!

©2014 Jennifer Magnuson, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

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