The idea for this Appalachian Trail adventure isn't a recent one. It started many years ago when my brother got a documentary from the library about AT Thru Hikers. I can't remember the title of the film, but I remember watching it with my brother and by the end of the film, we were both ready to pack our packs and hit the trail. Unfortunately, I was a 20-something divorced mom who was incapable of taking off in the woods for 6 months and my brother was still in high school (though I don't think being in high school was keeping him from going off hiking for 6 months).
So, because there were things that I couldn't just up and leave, the idea of a back packing trip went on the back burner. The years passed, I got remarried, had another kid and got divorced again. Somewhere along the way I thought of the Appalachian Trail and came up with the idea of doing a section hike through Maryland. I researched it a little, knew it was about 40 miles (40.9 to be precise) and thought I should do it. But it never happened. I got remarried again (third time's the charm) and moved into my husband's apartment. This meant clearing out some things that I just didn't need anymore. One afternoon in late summer as I was going through some papers I had, I came across a post-it note with a list of things I wanted to do before I was 30. At first I was amused, but the amusement quickly turned into depression because the only thing I had managed to accomplish on the list was learning to play the guitar. And while I did learn to play it, I hated it and couldn't play it now to save my life. And I was getting ready to turn 39 and I hadn't done anything. So somewhere in the back of my brain, a voice kept whispering about that AT hike through Maryland. Each day I'd think about it longer until I eventually started thinking I should do it and plan it for October of 2015 and hike the 40 miles for my 40th birthday. Even though a plan had started to take shape, I wasn't actually planning it as a certainty. It was still just this idea of something I had always wanted to do, only now it had a title: "40 for my 40th". That all changed, though, because of a small little stove.
I watched a vlog on the Cold Antler Farm Blog about Black Out Bags. It's just some common sense preparedness for storms- things you might want if you lose power. And one of those things was a small Esbit stove to make a warm drink on or even heat up some soup. I decided I wanted one- just in case. So when my husband and I along with my parents went to visit a BassPro store, I showed my husband the little $10 stove and mentioned I wanted it. I suggested it might be a nice Christmas stocking stuffer. When he wanted to know why I needed it, I told him about the black out bag idea and how it would be good to have- just in case. And then, suddenly, I was telling him about the back packing trip I had been thinking about for so long- long before he and I had met. I went on about how I was depressed about not accomplishing anything on my list, how we could do the 40 miles in celebration of turning 40 (he turns 40 too) and how preparing for it would help us both lose weight and be healthier. Instead of telling me I was crazy, he remembered me talking about wanting to do the same trip when we first met and suddenly, he was on board. Then he told my mom, and then she was on board. There in the store we settled on a date in October. My brother joined the group and my cousin (who turns 41) and my sister.
And that's how the "40 for my 40th" 4 day back packing trip came to be.