From Springer Mountain Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine

Monday, March 19, 2012

Savannah to South Korea to Springer Mountain and (hopefully) Back...

Hi all! Monica Phillips here, of one time, short lived MoniKorea and Her Wandering Roots fame. Looks like the big day is just about upon us. And boy, can I say... holy moley I'm nervous. Not nervous, want to back out nervous, just good ol' fashioned butterflies in my tummy nervous. Actually, I am as good as stoked. My bag is packed, the tent is ready and I just laced up my boots with new hot pink shoe strings. It seems the stars are aligning for our hike to commence. One could really go as far as to say that the stars, the moons, and all eight (nine if you include Pluto) planets aligned for this entire trip to take place. Getting a little too astronomical for you? Well, let me explain by quickly taking a few steps back to fill you in on the road that led me here...

As my loyal blog fans know (that's you, Mom and Dad), this Savannah girl made a home in South Korea last year. I was in New York City with Macon for three years prior to that, but found myself really needing a change and a year in the Far East seemed like just what the doctor ordered. At first I wasn't quite sure why I was leaving the people and places I loved to live abroad, but it seemed like the thing to do, so I just went with it.

I was teaching English at a school outside of Seoul and just two months into my new life overseas, my co-teachers and I found ourselves with a little time off from work for the Christmas holidays. What's a twenty-something to do with a chunk of free time whilst living in Asia? Book the first flight to Thailand of course! And good gosh, what a visit it was. Looking back, I sort of mark that time in my life as when I officially came down with the incurable, life-altering, Travel Fever. I knew from the moment that plane touched down in Phuket's tiny, filthy podunk airport when everyone else was shaking their heads wondering aloud, "what on Earth have we gotten ourselves into" I was jumping up and down, high-fiving myself, ready to load 'em on up and move 'em on out on the first tuk-tuk I could flag down in the dark. When I got back to Korea after that blissful week in the Land of Smiles, I figured out why I had left New York and all my best friends and my truly outstanding family. Ah ha! I needed to travel. I mean, I really needed to travel. I needed to travel like a bear needs to eat. So, I spent the rest of my year in Korea squirreling away as much money as I could, like said bear preparing for winter, to spend as much time post-one year Korean contract to... Yep! You guessed it! Travel, travel, travel. And travel I did.

I made my way to Japan in August to volunteer with a disaster relief crew after the earthquakes and tsunami that put such a hurtin' on the coast of that beautiful country. I hit Vietnam to party, be social, and trade off-color jokes with a slew of other backpackers from all four corners of the world. I stopped in Cambodia to spend some time with orphans in rural Takeo. I then rounded the whole experience off with a month in India practicing yoga and trying to decide where to go and what to do next. That's when my very best friend Macon "She of All Mighty Details" York contacted me to let me in on her plan to do a through hike of the Appalachian Trail. Now Macon has come at me with some pretty wackadoodle plans before but, let me tell you... this wasn't one of them. I was on board immediately.

It was just the right time and I was in just the right place to make it happen. Unfortunately with all that traveling and volunteering (and partying) my stash of nuts that had been squirrelled away was so low, I could barley make a peanut butter sandwich. So while Macon has made plans to do the epic though hike that every outdoor/ travel/ adventure junkie dreams of, I will only be able to stay out for a little bit more than a month. Again--- a bear's gotta eat, so this cub has to go join the circus.

It's obvious that my situation honestly did come together quite magically, but what is even more magical is how lucky I am to be accompanying someone as organized and as committed to making our time on the AT what it should be, as Macon. Macon has busted her hiney making doubly sure that everything we need to survive has been purchased and packed. She knows the routes, the weather, and the whereabouts of the all important "difficult" portions of the trail. (I put difficult in parenthesis because the person who graded the trail as easy to difficult has successfully hiked the AT 17 times. That's right, SEVENTEEN times. I'm just going to go out a limb here and guess that his "difficult" and my "difficult" are a bit different.)

Macon is more prepared than I would ever be if I were spear-heading this trip on my own. The proof in that pudding would be that I left Korea to spend 6 weeks in Southeast Asia with little more than a few summer dresses, my trusty 9 year-old flip flops, and the address to a hostel in Hanoi. That sort of fly by the seat of your pants, "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it" attitude works just fine when you've got time and money and the promise of sunshine and coconut cocktails for days. This trip is on a different track, if you will. This is the sort of adventure that if you just show up unprepared, determined to make it on smiles and karma points, your fate will most likely fall to that of a mountain lion or a bad lightening storm.

So to say that I'm a bit nervous with a hint of excitement fueled butterflies on the side is all thanks to Macon and her wonderful family for pulling the logistics of this adventure together. I feel blessed and grateful that I found myself in just the right place at just the right time to take advantage of it. I know Macon and I will come away with different experiences, it being she's committing to the trail for a much longer amount of time than I am able. Regardless of this, I am confident that we will both feel equally changed. And in my book, that's what it's all about. So let's all take a moment to raise our Nalgenes of chemically purified mountain spring water, shall we, and toast Macon and her never ending quest for more information, her attention to detail, and her incredibly supportive parents, without whom I may never have been given the chance to be given a trail name...

See you on the other side!


1 comment:

  1. Great story Monica! Again so sorry to hear the news on your knee :( I'm sure you will still be a critical part of this journey and still be 'with' Macon in spirit!