My grandfather used to say, "It's time to begin to get ready to commence to start!"
I'm committing: Although I don't have an exact date down, this is the middle of March, and one year from now (or two weeks from now, like April Fool's Day) I expect to plant my first step on the Appalachian Trail.
Planning starts now, and includes making sure my mother will be taken care of, not 24/7 but just someone checking in every day and doing little things for her. I don't know why I consider this more of an absolute for my hiking than I do for traveling to heaven-knows-where with Steve. Some kind of guilt trip, I guess. Gotta get rid of that. It's weight I don't need in my pack.
I'll miss Sarah's first birthday but she won't know. I don't mind that, myself. I don't want to miss her ACTUAL birthday, which is the reason I'm not hiking this year.
The most popular starting dates are today, the Ides of March; St. Patrick's Day; and April Fool's Day. On any of those dates, I'd probably find a trip-long hiking companion within the first day. But on any day between the middle of March and the middle of April, about 30 people start. I won't be alone or wanting for comrades.
Surprisingly, the one thing I'm *not* committing to is hiking all the way to Maine. Six months is a long time to live in the woods. A little less than 3 months would get me to Harper's Ferry, WV, and from there I could hike home, if Steve is staying again 20 miles away in Winchester, VA; if he's back at Deep Creek in Maryland, it would be a 2-hour drive to come pick me up; or I might decide to keep going. Or take a break and go home for a few days (maybe for Sarah's birthday?) and then keep going.
This plan has been on hold for so long, I hardly remember how to start planning it, even though I was so close last fall to leaving....well.... right about now.
It's time to begin to get ready to commence to start.