Chris McCandless showed the world a way of embracing life that most of us did not understand. On his journeys he helped people love and feel and live the way humans were meant to. So many things blind us from those three fundamental elements but Chris taught the world to open our eyes. But Chris taught without preaching. He enlightened us by doing it himself. And although he made some mistakes, his goal was righteous and the following is true.
Chris lived for 24 years. That is more than most people can say at their deaths even after eighty years of so-called living. We fall into a pattern and although that routine and schedule might lead us from our dream, we keep following it because its easy.
My senior year of high school I declared that I was going to take a year away from a classroom. I was going to break that routine and follow my overwhelming deep desire. But all my friends were going to college. Everyone was following that path and while watching the ease of their way, I was reeled into the routine again. Birth, day care, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, job, retirement, death. That routine was so easy and so enticing for me.
Many of my teachers thought that I had cracked my senior year. I had become utterly sick of school and I was ready to do something different. People who thought they knew me said that it was just senioritis. People who knew me knew it was much different. My idea of life was adventure and unexpected, exciting challenges and struggle, not routine. People who thought they knew me said I should go to college for a year and then decide. Maybe I would like college.
So I thought, maybe I would like college. Turns out I don’t and didn’t, but understand the necessity of such an evil. I thought, what’s another year? But that extra year in school pushed me over the edge.
I will set out on my great adventure to on August 22. Instead of Alaska, I will struggle alongside nature in Maine. Chris died because of a technical mistake, not because his ideals were whack. I hope to not make any technical mistakes, but life has a way of making even the most detailed plans and preparation near worthless.
Only a handful of people have hiked the entire 2,178 trail from the North to the South. Much, much less have hiked the trail in the winter. I prepare myself with reading, experimenting, and conversing with more knowledgeable hikers, but nothing can prepare me physically, mentally, and emotionally for the struggle I am about to endure.
On August 22nd, 2009 I will began my attempt at a southbound winter thru-hike of the Appalachian trail.