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Hiking, Self Care, Travel

Life lessons I learned hiking the Appalachian Trail as a homeless hiker

Appalachian Trail hiker learns life lessons as homeless hiker

 

Homelessness is often equated with despair, and misery, and hopelessness. But maybe there is another side to this issue. Maybe, as crazy as it sounds, choosing to leave the comforts of home can be a liberating adventure.

An unusual group of people, including perpetual travelers, digital nomads, and long-distance hikers, often make the conscious decision to become “homeless.” This means giving up certainty about where they are going to sleep each night. Far from family and friends. Going to a favorite restaurant to order the usual isn’t an option. The job that provides regular income is long gone. They see these challenges, and rather than follow the logical path, decide to plunge into the unknown.

I became one of these intentionally “homeless” people last year. I wanted (needed?) to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. For nearly 6 months, I lived off what I carried on my back and the generosity of others, many of whom I had never met before. In this new world, shaving was discouraged, every day was casual Friday, and the only rush-hour was a frenzied race to reach the All-You-Can-Eat before they switched to dinner prices. It was glorious.

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Photos, Travel

Hiking in Venice?

Hiking in Venice

I suspect that when you think of hiking, you imagine mountaintop vistas, strenuous climbs, and solitude. There should be trees and dirt and sweaty armpits. Probably bugs, but hopefully a few glimpses of more endearing wildlife.

hiking view

Moment from a typical hike

 

Venice is an unlikely place to find any of these things. Sealevel is nearly always within arm’s reach. The biggest (outdoor) elevation changes occur at the peaks of bridges. No dirt. (Although we did wrap-up our hike with a stroll through a secret garden.)

hiking in Venice

The high (outdoor) point in our hike. Shown is the Rialta Bridge spanning the Grand canal. At its peak, we climbed almost 8 whole meters. And I only had to stop once to catch my breath!

Instead, our flint-tiled hiking path lead us through narrow alleys bordered by ancient buildings, past ornate palaces, mansions, and Byzantine cathedrals. A cool, steady breeze and leisurely pace suppressed our armpit’s urge to do what they do, even if we don’t want them to.

 

With all these differences in mind, the hiker in me wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of several days spent wandering through another major city. I wanted to experience all the things that hiking promises: inspiring scenery, exercise for my body, and my mind (minus the torture treadmill), and a chance to rediscover the inner peace that is so hard to find in a busy big-city life. Unlikely we’d find any of this on a tiny, man-made island that hosts millions of people every year.

 

Venice, you sneaky little city, you’ve been holding out on us.

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(almost) funny, Bucket-Lister Pro-tips, Lifestyle, Travel

The Ultimate Foodie Guide to Venice

Foods of Venice

If Venice is on your travel bucket list and you like to eat, you’re in luck. Despite this tiny pedestrianized island’s dimensions (roughly the size of 2 Central Parks), restaurants, eateries, and fresh food markets are ubiquitous.

While you’re strolling colorful Fondamenta that border serene canals, grab a fresh strawberry or a Gelato. Hell, it’s a vacation. Get both. Not only will you burn off many of those calories while exploring the city on foot, more importantly, I quickly learned that the Venetians have a rule about not letting tourists go hungry.

Foods of Venice

Have you heard of the “Stick vs. Carrot” as a means of motivating the most stubborn of us to action? The Venetians have adopted a similar strategy, except it’s more of a “Strawberry vs. Gelato” thing. And I’m pretty sure the goal is to remind us to stop doing stuff all the time and enjoy the little moments.

 

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