No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself. – Seneca
I only realized a deeper motive for backpacking the Appalachian Trail when I was some miles north of Springer mountain. I knew the first reasons for my walk included the wish to get away from daily life, clear my head, get some perspective, and press my inner “re-set” button. But it wasn’t long before I knew I was also hiking to experience personal development through discipline and adversity.
When I passed the 100 mile mark on Albert Mountain, I was well aware of the physical challenges the trail required of me. I felt elated that I had been able to push through the pain of exhausting miles and enjoy the prize of standing on one of many summits I had scaled. There was pleasure in having overcome the adversity that is part of long-distance hiking.
By embracing the demands of adversity and discipline on the trail, my travels became a season of transformation, and I learned much about myself and what I am capable of spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Encountering adversity meant staying focused while hiking, keeping a positive outlook, dealing with challenges when they arose, turning them into learning opportunities, and staying flexible and ready to expect changing and unforeseeable situations.
The A.T. became a vital personal proving ground where I felt comfortable taking greater risks and stretching further than I ever had before. Resistance loosened up inside me, and I found myself open and welcoming to new adventures at every turn. I stepped from the trail not just having hiked it: I took home a treasure of inner rewards that made me a different person than the one who set out from Springer mountain in Georgia.