Interesting I was thinking about this today the parallels between hiking the Appalachian Trail and my time in the Canadian military. When I was 18 years old I enrolled in the military and was sent to Cornwallis, Nova Scotia to begin 10 weeks of what I didn’t know at the time was to be the hardest 10 weeks of my life.
Boot camp training sole purpose is to make you suffer both physically and mentally. The ultimate goal is to break you down from being a civilian into a military minded person and then to build you back you back up.
For 10 weeks I endured verbal abuse, called every name in the book to the physical day-to-day grind. Each day began around 4 AM whereby we would be up scrubbing scuff marks off of floors, cleaning our rifles, making our beds folding clothes and polishing boots all in anticipation of a 7 o’clock inspection. Each and every day we had these inspections and of course, my superiors always found fault with something. Some days they’d toss all my clothes out the window. Other days, they tip my locker over.
The physical aspect of boot camp training was very difficult. Each and every day and involved marching, running, exercise and swimming. All meant to build you up to get you stronger. Some days we had to jump into a pool with all of our combat gear and tread water for five minutes. Other days we had to do obstacle courses. This was all getting ready for the final test that happened in the 10th week where we had to run with a full pack and rifles for 25 km. And just when you thought you had completed the task, you then had to complete a gruelling obstacle course and finally a fireman‘s carry with someone heavier than yourself.
How I made it through the 10 weeks, I don’t know. Our platoon started with 160 individuals and graduated with about 35. When I think of the Appalachian Trail and the challenges that face me, the challenges are going to be both physical and mental. There will be days that I want to quit. Hikers say you never quit on a bad day.
I wanted to quit boot camp, but I didn’t. I fought through it. I know I can do the same on the Appalachian Trail.