It was a Sunday morning in September, I was turning pancakes. My wife was upstairs, probably dreaming about pancakes, and I was like, “What would I do if that wasn’t it?” At the time, I was working for one of the largest bike share logistics companies in the United States as an operations manager overseeing a team of about 20 employees in Boston. Which came immediately and without hesitation: I would hike AT.
Fast forward 20 minutes, to the sound of pancakes being tasted, I said to my wife: “So I thought I could quit this job and in the spring …” She retaliated, interrupting me: “To do hiking in AT? Do it, I think it’s a good idea.
Wow! This was the only permission I needed, granted without interruption. I immediately suggested that we drive to Jaffrey, NH. It had been years since I had even taken a day hike, but wanted to see my favorite place in the world: Mount Monadnock, which had been the exact spot that had inspired the desire to even consider a hiked through, ten years before. Although we didn’t hike that day, we parked at a local outdoor sanctuary with a great view of the top of Monadnock, and it became clear. I had work to do.
How did we get here?
Let’s come back here a bit. Obviously my wife and I have experienced some of the same struggles everyone else has during the pandemic including, but not limited to, the shortage of toilet paper, the lack of bikes, and the lack of food for dinners. late evening. To add to that, we had moved from Massachusetts to California in 2020 and then by early 2021 I had already changed jobs twice and had been diagnosed with OCD 5 months previously. Add to the list of life changing events – going for up to six months for a long walk in the woods, because that’s what most people do, right?
Zach, what are you doing?
The curious reader would probably stop me here and ask, “Zach, why, after all of this, are you planning to do this?” A question that many of my friends and family, perhaps out of courtesy, have yet to ask. So there it is, I want to finish something. I feel like I have to do it for myself and my wife.
When I was in my sophomore year in college, I wrote an essay in a creative non-fiction titled “The Anatomy of a Quit” where I recounted my childhood karate class and how my love for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 had been bigger. Of course, none of this has to do with any particular hike, however, the tendency I have had for incompleteness has always been pretty static. I quit too many jobs before I should have, didn’t finish my MBA, gave up on getting my black belt, etc. Quickly approaching 30 and feeling like I haven’t accomplished much, I wanted to do the hardest thing I could think of. Something that would give me time to be with myself to think about who I am, where I am in the world and what I might do next. I wanted to prove myself to myself and develop the discipline to show myself and see things through to the end, even in the most difficult and inconvenient times.
Thanks for following.
If you’ve made it this far in this blog post, thank you for being there. I hope to regularly update this with my progress and some of the lessons I learned during my trip. I actively struggle with OCD, anxiety, and depression, and as such, I anticipate that my mental illnesses will follow me on the trail. I plan to be completely open and totally candid about what it is like to undertake such an endeavor while dealing with a multitude of mental illnesses. It is a deep personal belief that everyone deserves to be included in the outdoors, and that mental illness shouldn’t necessarily be a barrier for those who have the desire to be in nature. I hope you find my writing funny, inspiring and uplifting.
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