In a way I'm kind of glad I never got to do it when I was younger because then I may not be interested in hiking the whole AT again now, and doing it now, while more difficult and arduous schedule-wise, means that my tiny explorers get to go too. There's a quote from Christopher McCandless that hit me hard:
"Happiness is only real when shared."
And the older I get the more I see the truth in that.
Alone, I find satisfaction, but not happiness.
There is no happiness in finding a perfect rock for sliding down if you're alone. Sure it might be interesting or fun, but the happiness comes from hearing the happy squeals of your kids as they tumble down onto each other laughing.
Working on my goal to hike the entire AT has also renewed my love for finding rare wildflowers, and thanks to social media I can share my finds, which is really fun because I never knew so many other people would also find them interesting. Take this rare beauty for example- a ghost plant (also known as corpse plant or indian pipe) from a rare family of plants that contain absolutely no chlorophyll and can only be found on a few hillsides in Appalachia.
Finding it was fun, but sharing it with others who thought it was neat was like finding it again!