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Originally appeared on The Trek

Why I’m Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail 2020

My tortured and forbidden love affair with the Appalachian Trail began in the fall of 1986. At that time I was 27 and she was 49.

Her gothic charms were hard to resist.  When I first laid eyes on her statuesque beauty, I was giddy and euphoric. I had never seen anything more wonderful,  nor had I ever felt more alive than during those brief moments stroking her footpaths on the New Hampshire White Mountains. I wanted more, I needed more.

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I was newly married at the time to a wonderful woman. She was on my mind when I lusted over this new unconventional love. I wanted all 3500 kilometres, every curve, mountain and gentle line of the Appalachian Trail, but I loved and was committed to my wife.  I would never,  I could never leave her for months in order to fully and completely consummate a thru-hike of the A.T. This lusting would remain secret and unresolved, and Tracy never learned about those passionate 5 days with the Appalachians.

My secret pining for the trail continued to torture me.

Over the next 3 decades, I would return many times to hike parts of her, but never her whole curvaceous length.  Hiking all her magic would mean abandoning everything I love for 6 months. I couldn’t do that, I had too many commitments; Jobs, children, grandchildren, elder care, committees, volunteer work. So many people relied on me “being there”.

Life went on and years flew by, but my secret unfulfilled love with the A.T. still haunted me.

Everything changed in January of 2019 when my dad died. I am so very fortunate to have had such and wonderful father. He taught me so much. But it was his death that taught me that life was too short to live with regrets and unfulfilled dreams.

So when all the grieving was resolved, I decided to tell my good wife about my secret forbidden love for the A.T.

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Bruce on the summit of Mount Washington – Spring 2019

Tracy responded wonderfully and was completely supportive. With her blessings, it was now time to plan and prep. In 2020 I will finally consummate my love of the Appalachian Trail and attempt a calendar thru-hike.

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