Is there something you have always wanted to do, but just haven’t gotten around to it? You talk about a certain adventure…and think you will do it someday…
Yep, that was me.
When I was a little girl, family trips to North Carolina were frequent..we loved exploring the mountains! Memories of visiting Newfound Gap are vivid. I remember how excited I was to stand in two states at once. The only thing that topped this ability in my mind was when Mom pointed out and explained the sign that read “Appalachian Trail.”
I was AMAZED that people actually walked from Georgia to Maine on this pathway that laid before me. I begged Mom to walk down the trail and she agreed, but said we could only walk for a little while. I recall hoping we would get lost and it would force us to finish the trail..or maybe that we would walk far enough that it would be shorter to keep going than to turn around. I suppose in the mind of a five year old, these ideas made sense. But, it was then that I decided I would someday hike this trail.
In 9th grade, I discovered my first Louis L’Amour book. Tales of tumbling tumbleweeds, strong willed women and heroic cowboys made me dream of visiting the wild west. At one point I considered attending college out west, but it just wasn’t financially feasible for me. Plus, I really couldn’t imagine being anything other than an Auburn Tiger–War Eagle! I decided that upon graduation, I would someday live out west. Maybe after I someday hiked the Appalachian Trail.
In a blink of an eye, it was May 2012. I was graduating college, and had the perfect job lined up for me in Guntersville, AL. I had already interned with the agency for two years, knew most of the people I would work with and truly enjoyed my job. The position consisted of above average starting pay, superb benefits and I was almost guaranteed to never miss my (imaginary) children’s field trips, sports events, etc. My co-workers and supervisors were outstanding leaders and mentors. This was the kind of position you stick with until retirement. I should have been thrilled, right?! In a way I was. I was extremely grateful for the opportunity, especially considering many of my classmates were still searching for jobs. On the other hand, I knew in the back of my mind that it was more or less the nail in the coffin for my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Most jobs don’t really allow six month vacations.. But, I wasn’t exactly financially capable of turning down a job offer and buying a couple thousand dollars worth of hiking gear. So happily and gratefully, I accepted the position and toted my minimal belongings with me.
About a year and a half later, an old classmate from Auburn University called and told me there was a position open in the company with which he was employed. He was living in Colorado working for the oilfield. I told him I didn’t know anything about the oilfield–and he said, “Do you have an engineering degree or not?” Well yes, we had the same degree. So, if he could do it, why couldn’t I? Before I knew it, I was flown out to Denver, Colorado for an interview. I was offered the position on the spot and was told they would refund my move. I was in disbelief–here was my chance to move across the country. My chance to see the west. But, what if I didn’t like it? How would my boyfriend feel? Could I handle being this far from my family and friends? Isn’t moving to a new place all alone scary? My mind was flooded with every positive and negative thought. An opportunity that I had been hoping would come along someday was staring me straight in the face, and all I could do was freeze up. I had a decision to make, and it was honestly the last thing I wanted to do. Either way, I was worried I would make a mistake..I might hurt people, have regrets, and worst of all..I might FAIL.
I was sitting with my mom venting all of my thoughts, and I asked her straight forwardly, “Mom. What should I do?” With tears in her eyes she told me: “Selfishly, I want you to stay. I want to tell you not to go. But, honestly I think you need to go. I got this little card a while back and I figured I might need it one day, but I think I was meant to give it to you..”
She handed me a card that said: Cross The Line
Maybe it is silly that this one card and simple saying gave me courage. It may not have been the only source of strength, but it definitely pushed me over the edge. So, to Colorado I went with the loving help of Frank and Mommy.
During my year and a half in Colorado, I lived in two different cities, visited 12 new states, ate wonderful food, marked multiple items off my bucket list, hiked beautiful trails and met AMAZING people. I would love to tell you the job was just as exceptional, but unfortunately it wasn’t. I was faced with lying, favoritism, unprofessional supervisors, and unwarranted stress. Worst of all, I began doubting myself and my worth due to my work environment. But, you know what that is called? Life.
I honestly don’t regret one minute I experienced in Colorado. I am a much stronger, wiser, and more traveled person because of the good and bad. It’s crazy to think that I could have missed it all by making excuses that it wasn’t the right time, out of fear, or because of the discouragement of others. But, I didn’t.
In July 2014, I knew without a doubt that the job was not going to pan out. I decided I would apply with new companies and leave it in the hands of fate. When a few months passed and nothing had surfaced, I realized the opportunity to hike the Appalachian Trail was knocking on my door.
Time to answer. Time to Cross The Line.
In less than a week, I will be on my 2,200 mile trek from Georgia to Maine. I moved back to Opelika, AL in December (thanks to Frank helping me move my belongings and two dogs across the country again). I have been catching up with family, collecting gear and prepping myself for this new adventure. Frank and I have been dehydrating food and making some of my gear. Stay tuned for some DIY’s. Also, I plan to update this blog during my 6 month journey.
The point is, we all have lines in life. Many times we decide to treat them as fences that hold us in as we gaze at our dreams on the other side. We lie to ourselves and say that someday we will break out of our daily routines and capture our wild ideas. But everyday life passes us by and someday gets a little farther away. What are some of the goals in your life that you haven’t made the time to accomplish? Do you have a dream you see on the other side of a boundary line? Someday is here. Someday is now. It is time…
Cross The Line.
Happy Trails 🙂
This is so cool Jessica!! 🙂
Thank you, Chase! 🙂
You are such an inspiration and I am so blessed and incredibly proud to call you my cousin! Love you! Cant wait to hear all about your hike! Be safe and have fun! Hugs!
Thank you, Laura! That is so sweet. Awesome family like you is what made me who I am. I love you! See you in May 🙂
Jess! After reading the first paragraph of this blog, I immediately found myself lost in your words. First- You are such an inspiration to me and without a doubt to many others. Second- Girl, you can write a good blog! I am glad you are sharing your journey with us. I look forward to keeping up with your travels. You will be in my prayers as you gear up for this amazing journey of a lifetime. I will live vicariously through you, wishing I could go along. I’ve had a rough day today and reading this has truly lifted my spirits. So I say, “Thank you”.
Good luck!! Have Fun!! Godspeed!
Sam–Thank you so much! I REALLY appreciate your feedback. If you get a wild hair to jump in on the AT during a long weekend, feel free! Glad you enjoyed reading, and hope today was better than yesterday 🙂
I really enjoyed reading your blog! I’m so excited for your adventure and for updates!! Best wishes as you Cross The Line!!
Prayers for Strength, Safety and good health are sent your way.. This is so Amazing for you to set your mind to something this challenging, and then tackle it head on..I will be praying you keep safe and healthy during your travels and I really hope you enjoy yourself.. This really is an Amazing Journey and something you can be very proud of..
you will never cease to amaze me!
Love and miss you!
Safe travels Jessica! You’re the bomb!!!!!
what a great time we are all having! All the work and fun is so appreciated! Love to the “fam”
I have just had a similar experience to what you went though with your job in Denver, Colorado along with the associated fun and games; this blog has been a huge help, many thanks. It has been very enjoyable following your well written blogs, excellent photographs and videos about the trip
What you are doing is truly inspiring to many people
Thank you, Neville! I hate to hear you’ve had a bad experience recently with work. But, I suppose bad situations provide the opportunity to grow stronger and learn valuable lessons. I hope all is well now! Thank you for all of your comments–I appreciate the feedback.
Jessica what’s shaking homie!
Just wanted to reach out and say what an inspiration it was hearing you on Jack’s show. I’ve always had a passion for hiking, and especially the AT. Growing up in Virginia it was one of those magic places. I’m considering coming out to Spirko’s Oct get together at his house I may just see you there. Have a great night.
My son has watched all your AT vids, and tells me that you saw a hedge hog. I was trying to find that vid, because if it was at the northern end of the AT it more likely was a baby porcupine. BTW love the videos I’ve seen so far
Hey there! I believe it was a hedgehog but I could be completely wrong. It’s at about 10:15 in this video. Let me know what you think!
I’ve armchair hiked both trails with you — best I can offer at 75. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing.