Just Keep Walking • A 1300 mile walk on the Appalachian Trail
In the Spring of 2018 I left my car in a dirt parking lot in the rural mountains of Georgia and started walking north on a narrow footpath. I had left my life behind and was prepared to walk until I simply didn’t feel like walking any longer, or I reached the end of the path. I had six months before winter set in. Those were uncertain days, and looking back at my lonely car as I walked away with no more than a backpack full of equipment, I had the distinct sensation that I may never see it again. I had very few ideas about what lay ahead on my journey, but I was certain that I was walking away from my life as I knew it.
Over the course of the next 95 days I experienced wind, snow, ice, dehydration, insects, heat, fatigue, rain, pain, bears, and yet miraculously I found a way to make peace with all of it. My poems gave me purpose. My pictures confirmed to me that this was really happening. I wrote with fingers clutching a frozen pen. I wrote naked, soaked in sweat and covered in mosquito bites and blisters. I wrote as the sound of raindrops falling on my tent lulled me to sleep. I wrote to confront the deepest sense of loneliness I had ever felt, and I wrote to make light of situations that pushed me to my absolute limit mentally and physically. Most of all I wrote to fully realize and penetrate the expansion occurring in my mind and spirit. The path became the great metaphor and teacher. Every day new lessons were revealed to me. All I had to do was just keep walking.
In the end it took a little over three months and 1300 miles for the trail to teach me all the lessons I was ready for. For someone seeking answers through contemplation in nature, a walk like this would continue to enlighten indefinitely, should they have the resources and will to push on. There is no end to what the mountains, forests, weather, and animals can reveal to us.
I wrote poems (about 400) and made photographs from the first day until the last. I hope that by viewing this small selection you can experience a taste of what it was like to put one foot in front of the other, day after day, traversing mountains and experiencing the highs, lows, and serene awareness that arises from immersion in the wild.
Self-Portrait, Georgia, Appalachian Trail 2018
Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina, Appalachian Trail 2018
Near Germansville, Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail 2018
Outside Suches, Georgia, Appalachian Trail 2018
Near South Mountain, Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail 2018
Near Bastian, Virginia, Appalachian Trail 2018
Outside Cascade, Maryland, Appalachian Trail 2018
Near Stanhope, Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail 2018
Near Annapolis Rock, Maryland, Appalachian Trail 2018
Outside Unicoi, Tennessee, Appalachian Trail 2018
Near Cataloochee, North Carolina, Appalachian Trail 2018
Outside Cove Creek, Tennessee, Appalachian Trail 2018
Near Roan High Knob, North Carolina/Tennessee border, Appalachian Trail 2018
From the Albert Mountain fire tower, North Carolina, Appalachian Trail 2018
Near Wright Place, North Carolina, Appalachian Trail 2018
Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, Appalachian Trail 2018