Appalachian Trail T-4: Excitement, Anticipation, and No Sleep

It’s 4am in Glen Burnie, Md and I cannot sleep. In four more days, I board a bus to Georgia to begin my thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail. My bag is packed and ready. Everything else I own is gathering dust in my mother’s attic in Pittsburgh.

Yesterday, I returned to my Aunt and Uncles house here in Glen Burnie after six days in New York City. I’ve never felt so out of place. Like a deer lost on the plains amidst a herd of zebra, I had nowhere to hide.

With the hike so close, all I cared to do was walk around the city. I tried to take photos but was not very successful. I’m lost in big cities. I did find one subject that captivated my attention: a raccoon in central park eating bread under a tree. I watched it for nearly an hour taking more photos than of anything else. The next night I had an epiphany.

Sitting in a crowded bar, a flamboyant man played a piano while an eccentric red-haired woman sang a sing-a-long song. When she came to the chorus, she stuck the microphone in the face of the woman sitting next to me. Well, this outgoing woman pulled the mic closer ecstatic for her 15 seconds of fame.

I on the other hand, was appalled. I don’t want to sing in public! And public doesn’t want to hear me sing! I crossed my arms displaying my best “don’t even think about it” attitude. Then, I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and visualized the peace and tranquility I’ll find on the trail.

In that moment, I realized something important. I hate crowds. To think I managed to convince myself otherwise! Then again, I had no choice. It was the only way to overcome the social anxiety and panic attacks that plagued my life for years. But, that’s another story.

I’m surprised at my inability to sleep. I’m not nervous. I’ve traveled a lot in the last few years including a ten month bike tour from the Canada border to El Salvador. That prepared me for anything. I know how to pack and my bag is ready — a first as I’m usually packing the night before. I know what to expect. I’ll experience new lows that rival the depths of hell and just when I think I can’t take anymore, a beam of light will will transport me, Star Trek style, to heavenly heights.

So, I guess it’s excitement and anticipation. I do feel trapped in purgatory. My brain compensates for the endless waiting by obsessing over things I’m not going to change anyway. Mainly gear. I’m a recovering gear junky and am at risk of falling off the wagon. Help!

Oh well. It’s four days. I survived that long being held by a family of narco trafficantes. I can certainly survive this. It is ironic though. I didn’t sleep much worse then and I thought they might kill me. Maybe I’m more nervous than I think!

On my travels, I keep a written journal and would like to share it. The question is where. I posted this same entry on a trail journal site,, along with a few other entries. I was thinking I could host my daily journal there and use this blog as a condensed, story version. What do you think? Are you interested in reading a more traditional journal? Please let me known in the comment section below. (This is also a test for posting from my phone)