5 Reasons Why Anyone On Earth Would Want To Thru-Hike

5 Reasons Anyone On Earth Would Want To Thru-Hike

To most, the idea of walking 2,190 miles through the woods sounds absolutely ludicrous--to an ambitious few, though, it's the vacation of a lifetime.

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Thru-hikers are a different breed. Packing a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, clothes, and everything else you need to survive in a massive backpack, then proceeding to walk it from the deep south to the most northeastern state in the US just doesn't appeal to many, and I get that. With that being said, there is a lot to be gained from doing so, and to many, the impetus is simply too strong to be neglected. Those who've done it will likely tell you that the pros massively outweigh the cons, but you may first ask yourself, what are the pros? Why would someone want to thru-hike in the first place? Here's why.

1. The community.

The sense of community is strong in any outdoor sport (or any sport in general for that matter), but I think it's nowhere more prevalent than in the instance of thru-hikers. Generally speaking, people have various goals and means of attaining them, but on the Appalachian Trail there's only one: walk from Georgia to Maine (or vice versa). With this crucial commonality comes a mutual understanding and respect that can't be found elsewhere.

What's so awesome about this inherent respect for fellow thru-hikers is just how diverse the community actually is. People from all walks of life can be found on the trail, and though it may sound counterintuitive, that diversity is exactly what brings everyone together. Learning about people that come from a background so much different than your own will open your mind, and in turn make you more compassionate towards your fellow hiker and Earth-dweller, even beyond the trail. It's truly a beautiful thing, and one that draws people to the AT year in and year out.

2. To prove something to yourself.

As I'm sure you can imagine, thru-hiking is not easy. Walking 15-20+ miles a day over steep terrain with a 30-pound pack on your back is no simple task, and certainly takes a toll on your body. Injury, exhaustion, dehydration, etc. are no strangers to the Appalachian Trail, yet even more challenging than the physical aspect of it is the mental one. On any long distance hike, mental toughness is key. You often have to push your body to do things it doesn't want to do--mind over matter. This idea is especially true on the Appalachian Trail due to the "green tunnel" effect. The Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails (the other two long-distance hikes in the US) are certainly difficult but offer some visual sense of accomplishment throughout considering they pass through widely differing environmental regions. On the other hand, the AT takes you through a temperate deciduous forest for the entirety of your trek. This can make it difficult to get up in the morning, or keep going after that water break, or leave that trail town thus committing yourself to another 5 days of wilderness. This is why mental fortitude is key.

Being able to persevere through the physical and mental challenges on the AT will certainly prove something to others, but more importantly, to yourself. Less than 30% of those who begin the Appalachian Trail finish it, so many people set off in order to prove to themselves that they do have what it takes, and in the end, it is immensely rewarding. This is one of the greatest benefits thru-hiking has to offer.

3. Societal exhaustion.

One of the biggest motivators to undergo such a massive journey is simply that people want to do something different. Societal expectations are weighing people down now more than ever-- it often seems as if everyone is just going through the motions, day in and day out, and for what? Real, genuine fulfillment can be hard to find in the hustle and bustle of today's society, and thru-hiking is an excellent way to break free of those metaphorical chains. Hiking the Appalachian trail is sure to satisfy deeply innate human needs in a way that jobs and the uniformity of the "American dream" lifestyle just can't, which is why every year many Americans ditch the suit and tie for some hiking shoes and a backpack.

4. Opportunity for self-reflection.

This one is particularly beneficial to adolescents & young adults and goes hand in hand with the previous point in that people often look for that escape from "traditional" civilization in order to self reflect. Existential and identity crises abound in today's socioeconomic climate because young people feel forced into school or jobs with no real idea of who they are or what it is that they want to do. Good news: your next move in life probably isn't quite as pressing of an issue as you may think. More good news: there's a beautiful place you can block out all societal distractions and really focus on you. That place? The Appalachian Mountains. Whether your thru-hike is good, bad, incredible, challenging, fun, stressful, or whatever the case may be, I can guarantee you it'll teach you a lot about who you really are. The AT will provide you with 6 months of the best "me" time you've ever had, which is what compels a lot of hikers to take on this awesome trail.

5. Monetary paychecks are overrated.

Ever heard the adage, "money can't buy happiness"? Unless you've lived under a rock your entire life, odds are you have, and a taste of the AT will prove this theory. Of course, everyone wants money-- I am by no means immune to this basic economic desire. With that being said, have you ever stood atop Clingman's Dome, the highest point on the entire Appalachian Trail? Have you ever rock scrambled through the White Mountains in New Hampshire? Have you ever dipped your feet in the beautiful Nolichucky River on a scorching Summer day? After experiences like these, all the happiness you can buy seems artificial. I suppose I only speak for myself here, but I think most would agree that places like these are where we, as humans, find true happiness. Monetary paychecks are great, sure, but the most fulfilling paychecks are metaphorical and the Appalachian Trail is littered with them. These wonderful natural experiences are the payoffs that thru-hikers seek and find every year on the AT.

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'Jane The Virgin' Season Five Made Me Hate Jane

Season five has ruined Jane Gloriana Villanueva.

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SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "Jane the Virgin"

Now, for all the super fans left, let me preface this article by saying that I love "Jane the Virgin." The show itself has brought a large piece of Latinx culture to an American audience in a way that is both educational and thrilling. Somehow, the writers of this modern Telenovela managed to find the balance between "soap opera" drama and modern TV drama.

However, while the show itself remains captivating, its main character has lost her luster. In other seasons, Jane proved to be an honest, selfless young woman. One of the prime examples of this is when she tells Michael she is pregnant instead of just accepting his proposal and dealing with the consequences later.

In seasons one through four, Jane was, as expected, caught up in the drama, but she always tried to put others before herself. She was fiercely protective of her mother and abuela as well as her son, Mateo. She was eager to help a struggling Petra, though Petra was nothing but rude to her.

Season five Jane is a different story.

This Jane perpetuates the idea that it is OK to play with someone's feelings, that she is right in dangling a relationship over both Raphael and Michael's heads. She claims that she doesn't know what she feels, that she has feelings for both Raphael and Michael. That she can't just run from her feelings for Michael.

She preaches that "love" is only an emotion. That it is ONLY felt. That because she "feels" something still there with Michael, she must still love him.

Sorry to break it to you Jane, but love isn't just a feeling. Love is a choice. It's a struggle. It's a fight you'll never stop fighting. It's a race you'll never get tired of running or when you do, you'll take a long drink of water and keep going.

Quite frankly, the way in which Jane treats her relationship with both men is emotional abuse. It is not only affecting the adults, but also the children as Mateo begins acting out and Ana and Ellie are convinced Raphael is taking drugs. While toying with the hearts of two men she cares about, she is also placing a wedge between herself and her son.

It seems stupid to be so opinionated about a silly TV show like "Jane the Virgin," but I know what it's like to be the second choice, then the first choice, then second again. Always wondering if you'll be good enough the next time, what you could have done better, how you could be different. Jane's actions in the final season only perpetuate the idea that it's OK to play with someone's emotions and that love is only a feeling. If you don't feel it, you don't have it.

Disclaimer: I am totally Team Raphael (if that wasn't obvious enough in this article), but here's why: Jane and Michael's relationship was based on "feeling." It "felt" magical. Raphael and Jane were not "love at first sight' but grew to love and accept one another. To me, this is the beautiful story. This is the real story of love.

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6 Ways I Was Able To Achieve Straight A's At The University Of Georgia This Semester

It honestly took me entirely too long to figure out how to do well in my classes.

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It is super common for students to come to the University of Georgia and have a horrible first year academically, because of the rigor and new stresses. High school doesn't prepare you for it, and it can often times make you feel really crappy about yourself. It is common for straight A students to come to UGA and start making C's. The reasons vary from studying habits to a new environment, but either way, it is the worst feeling in the world to be top of your class, and get to college and start falling behind. I haven't really made bad grades in college, but I came to UGA with a 4.2 GPA and I can assure you that was NOT the case after my first semester.

1. I stopped relying solely on my memory and used my resources.

I have always been the type of person to have a planner, but it even takes a lot to remember to look at the planner. Therefore, it was time to take things to the next level. I reminded myself of deadlines, events, and assignments in various ways to make sure I didn't slip up. This included google calendar, putting up a whiteboard in my room, notecards with important dates, etc. I have major anxiety about forgetting things, so to solve that, I just literally wrote them everywhere I possibly could.

2. I figured out why I was in college and what my purpose was.

It's hard to do something every day that you aren't even sure about. When I started to make lower grades, it was easy for me to think I was at the wrong place or doing the wrong thing. I had to really make confirm that college was for me and what I really wanted for myself. I did this by studying abroad and getting to know some of my professors. I learned that I really loved to learn and wanted to continue living in a scholarly world. All and all, I figured out that I really belonged here and I could do it.

3. I changed my major.

It was super hard for me to do this because I am the type of person that creates a plan and sticks to it. Changing my major meant that the plan was changing too, and that was one of the hardest decisions I've made. But once I changed my major to something that better fit me and what I wanted to do in the future (changed it from Risk Management and Insurance to Consumer Journalism), I was more confident and eager to make better grades.

4. I realized that everyone is in the same boat.

UGA admissions state that in 2018, the high school core GPA Overall Average of All Admitted First-Year Students was a 4.07. That means just about everyone coming in pretty much got all A's, dual enrolled, and/or took AP classes. But I can assure you, there aren't many people who continue to get those kinds of grades. And that's okay. College is much harder and it takes time to adjust. I had to realize I wasn't the only one.

5. I put school before EVERYTHING.

I missed events for my clubs, time with my friends, and I honestly probably watched Netflix a total of 10 times maximum. I decided if I was going to be in college, then it would be my first and only priority. It's easy to say that, but it's hard to miss fun things when this is supposed to be the "best four years of your life." But you kind of just have to come to terms with the fact that there will always be more chances to do those things, but if you make a bad grade it isn't necessarily going to go away.

6. When I could, I started saying YES.

It was easy for me to constantly feel like I had no time to do any more clubs or activities, but it was possible with balance and strategic planning. The more things I was involved in like UGA HEROs, Young Democrats, or even Odyssey Online, the more excited I was about what I was doing with my life. I even became a notetaker for two of my classes so I was forced to take good notes and go to class. I also studied abroad when I felt like I had absolutely no time and it turned out to be an experience that I will never forget. I said yes to things I was genuinely passionate about and things that would help me further develop skills for my future career(s).

Ultimately, to make the grades I wanted, I had to reevaluate everything I was doing and put the work in. It is all about your mindset and how far you are willing to push yourself. It's about things like being willing to do the extra credit, going to the office hours, staying in when everyone else is going out, giving yourself adequate time to study, and being surrounded by people who have similar goals. I also REALLY wanted my Zell Miller Scholarship back and I made it a goal to get there. Set goals and make them happen. If you are wanting to get better grades, my advice would be to emirs yourself completely into school. It doesn't sound super fun or cool, but it is only a few years and the return will be totally worth it. If you are studying something that you are passionate about, it shouldn't be hard to direct that energy into your schoolwork.

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