I think it was at the end of the year 2009, around Christmas Time, to be more specific. I remember sitting on the couch with my girlfriend then, watching TV. While zapping through the channels I stumbled over a documentary about the Appalachian Trail. The Title was: “Through America’s Wilderness – 3000 km on the Appalachian Trail” – I was hooked. I can barely remember why, but the simple thought that there is actually a trail that long, gave me some intense goosebumps. I couldn’t really feel it in that moment, but today I know for sure that it was my heart that made a huge bounce in my chest. Clearly a sign for what I should do – some day in the future – that’s what I knew. After a couple of minutes watching I told my girlfriend that I want to do the trail one day – really bad! She cracked up laughing and said to me: “You don’t even want to walk the dog…”. And she was right. The time for me and this epic adventure hadn’t come yet. And so the years flew by.
At the End of 2013 I applied for a job down in Munich. After my job interview with my future boss, it was pretty clear that I’m going to move from Saxony to Bavaria. For the very first time in my life I left my home, my family and friends and I would live in a total different city – and in a different state. I would live and work almost 500 km away from my hometown. But there were still a lot of things to do before I could leave to start my new life. I had to get an apartment, which isn’t that easy when you are on a kinda tight budget. Munich is freaking expensive… As usual in Germany, you have a maximum of 6 Months of employment probation period. I used that time to make sure that I really want to live and work there. 6 Months turned into 14.
In August/September 2014 I had a strange and mind blowing experience which made me start thinking about the AT again. I don’t really want to go in details on that but I can tell how desperate I was because of that. I wasn’t afraid about loosing my job or had any other serious problems in my life. Work was fun – most of the time. But I missed something in my life. I’m not talking about the stuff we all are buying and collecting. It was more like I had too much of all that (worthless) stuff. And I wanted to get rid of it as fast as I could. I wanted to live more purely, without all that bullshit we have to deal with in our every day life’s.
One day it happened that I remembered the documentary about the Trail and I could instantly feel energy and excitement flooding my body and my mind. I was infected with the thought that I could do the “whole thing”. Leaving everything behind and do a restart of my life. I watched that documentary a couple times and started researching on what to do and how, what I need and where to buy gear. You know, working out all those details.
The first thing I did was checking out on how to get into the US. It was kinda difficult to figure out for which VISA I have to apply and which one would fulfill my needs. After intensive research I finally applied for my VISA and got invited to the US Embassy in Munich. Lucky me that I was living almost next door. As I got to the Embassy I had to talk to an Officer about what I want to do in the US and I had to explain how long I want to stay. That guy was very friendly and I had a good feeling. After like 15 to 20 minutes I got the OK and could leave. 2 Weeks later I found my approved VISA in the Mail. I was so pumped that I can go ahead and fulfill one of my life goals. My VISA is valid for 10 Years which allows me to “knock on the Door” and ask for letting me in to the US as often as I want. I was happy as I could be!
Things are getting serious now.
The following weeks were full of researches. Online and in Outdoor Shops. Talking to the Staff about which gear would probably be the best and not too expensive. So I checked on what gear is available, what the pros and cons are and comparing them. I had to buy everything. Tent, Sleeping Pad, Sleeping Bag, Backpack, Stove… you know, all that essential stuff for a 6 Month long Thru-Hike. I was such a rookie without a clue on what I wanna do and how.
The last things I had to do was to book my flight and quit my job.
At the End of January in 2015 I moved back to my parents place. I took all of my vacation leave time to prepare myself for the upcoming hike. Besides doing some hiking in the German Alps, I didn’t had much time to prepare and get in shape. So I went on a couple day hikes with my dad. Fully loaded with all the gear I planned on taking with me. I set up my tent in the backyard and slept in there for one night. I got water from the next creek I could find and made dinner like I would do on the trail.
Everything worked out as expected and I felt ready for finally going on my biggest adventure yet.
My Mom gave me a ride to the Airport early in the morning of March 3rd. My Best Friend came to say good bye as well and so I left Germany for a life changing journey.
Since I got back home there was not a single day I wasn’t thinking about the best time of my life (so far) and I’m feeling grateful for everything and everyone who was involved and made up for such an epic adventure.