Making the decision to give up everything I had built in a new city was a difficult one. I had friends, job security, and what some might even call a career. But wanderlust does not satisfy itself and the more I thought, the more I knew it was time to jump into nature and do something epic. I settled on doing the triple crown of hiking (Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest trail) all in one year. It is something that had been done before but not by more than a handful of people. It would be my chance to get really good at something for 10 months – Walking.
After the decision was made, the real work started. One of the first things I decided was to complete the adventure in the name of a charity in the hopes of making a difference and passing on my incredible opportunity. I settled on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention with the goal of saving others through nature like it has saved me. After I started working with the charity everything began moving extremely fast. I began to gain sponsors, publicity, anxiety, and a lifetime’s worth of To-Do lists. But through everything and all the details to figure out, the most difficult task was actually announcing the adventure and making it real.
That’s when I just decided to do it. I made the announcement and then I was committed: Trails of America here I come!
The plans started to come to fruition and I finally started to come up with a way to complete the 8,000 miles of hiking and hopefully avoid the worst weather:
> January 31st I fly to Atlanta to begin the 2,100 mile Appalachian trail. If all goes well I should finish right about the time my fingers thaw out in the middle of April. From Maine, where I’ll finish, I fly out for a walk in the woods on the West Coast.
>Mid April I arrive in San Diego and make my way to the Mexican border to begin the 2,600 mile hike North to Canada. Hopefully I will be able to attend the PCT kickoff event which from what I have heard is a lot of hikers attempting to gain a few last pounds before their journey north. Once I reach Canada the task of finding my way to Glacier National park begins.
>Late July By some method of transportation (hopefully other than walking) I end up in Glacier National Park at the Canadian border and start walking back to Mexico while trying to beat the snow. Once I reach Mexico I should be so skinny and tired of dehydrated food that I will be glad to be able to take a break from the travel lifestyle and try out sleeping in a real bed again.
My days now revolve around watching the dehydrator slowly dry the meals, these great meals that I cook but don’t eat. It is tough to make a great meal and then put it right into the dehydrator without getting to eat any of it. The most difficult meal to pass up and literally suck the juice out of was the leftover Christmas dinner. Yes, I took my portion of the leftover turkey and potato meal and dehydrated it to be enjoyed later. At some point on the trail I will be getting my own dinner feast!
Things I have Learned
–Just do it. Nike got it right. There was no way I was going to be able to push myself over the edge and jump in to this adventure unless I just outright committed and then began ironing out all the details. Let me tell you from firsthand experience, following your dreams is not easy and there are sacrifices.
–There is so much help out there. There is no way that I could pull this off without the help of countless others. These people are everything from family, friends, brands, and even strangers. The biggest thing that they have given me is the reassurance that this goal is possible. In the end all these people and brands were willing to help but it all started with asking. You never know until you ask.
–I am going to be really sick of beans. My diet is going to be very boring. I have gone with the method of creating only a handful of different meals, but creating them in bulk. They are made up mostly of beans, potatoes, noodles, and an assortment of leftovers. I may never eat hummus again after having it nearly every day for lunch on this trek.
–There are tasks and items you just can’t worry about. There are so many small things that I will just not have the time to get to. This includes knowing the details of every town that I will go through during the 10 months, as well as, knowing every turn in the trail. These are the things that should create the best stories. There is nothing better than sleeping under a picnic bench in a rainstorm waiting for the post office to open. I know from experience
–Training is overrated? I didn’t learn this, but I am hoping this is true. There just is no time to get out and get some miles in. My one true outing to test out my gear came in November when I was able to climb a 14,000ft snowy Colorado peak and break in my Mountainsmith Trekking poles.
–Blogging and Documenting the trip is not cut and dry. Learning how to set things to post in the future, updating a daily blog from a cell phone, and submitting articles for brands to publish is going to be a learning experience.
–I don’t wear many hats, I wear every hat. In just the weeks leading up to my quarter life crisis adventure I have had to be a chef, marketer, web developer, gear tester, writer, athlete, and receptionist.
All this learned and I haven’t even started walking yet. This trip truly has the makings of the adventure of a lifetime. But I hope it eventually just becomes one of many adventures.
Jeff Garmire has been sponsored by Mountainsmith in his quest to complete the Triple Crown in one year and raise awareness for suicide prevention. Follow along on his Instagram channel and on his website freeoutside.com.