photo by  Kristen Bryant

Hi.

Welcome to The Ones Who Walk project site. I am a 2018 AT thru-hiker gathering stories along the way. 

Bodies in motion

Bodies in motion

photo by Amy Badgett

I started writing the About the Author section tonight. We seem to always include our location of origin in our introductions. That's the first thing I wanted to share to the internet about me, as an author of The Ones Who Walk. 

I am from Winston-Salem, NC. 

At 28-years old I've lived in Winston-Salem for 20 of them. My sense of place is strong and my memories are layered thickly throughout the city I call home. A sense of place is important. My identity a composite of buildings, organizations, annual events, people, familiar faces, cups of coffee, quiet corners, connections -- all in that one place. 

As I considered a thru-hike and leaving my home, I found myself writing about physics.

It is a  statement of inertia that a body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced external force. Unbalanced.

I have an incredible amount of inertia in my hometown. Years of growing up, high school, college, jobs, networks, accomplishments, embarrassments, bad dates, rewarding relationships, deep roots, and growth. My existence is a smooth rotation of familiarity, comfort, confidence and logical next steps. 

But for the past few months I've felt like a body in motion acted upon by opposing forces. 

Stay. Go. 

A body in motion, wobbling from battling forces. I am unbalanced. Less confident, fearful of risk, afraid of failure. Though my project’s goal is to understand the purpose behind other people’s hikes, a good friend asks me "Why are you hiking?". I can't fully answer. 

Stay. 

Sharing my hiking and project plans brought on fits of sweat, anxiety and a resurgence of my dislike of disappointing others. For weeks I woke up with tension in my jaw from clenching and grinding my teeth. In sleep I was straining to keep my mouth closed, afraid to speak and share.

Awake, I have shared my plans to hike. I overcame resistance from within and decided to take a risk and make a choice. The words I have received, "I'm proud of you", "You've got to do this", "That's amazing", are mirrors of my desire for this hike and this project. My community is supporting me in this journey. Every word of support and statement of encouragement is a hook in my heart and a nudge out the door. I’ve found new inertia.

Go. 

Pictures make it real

Pictures make it real