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I have a confession to make: I dislike five-year plans. My discomfort with them occurs at multiple levels. First, as an academic adviser to college students, I have watched too many first-year students think their entire lives have to be mapped out and if they don’t succeed in following the plan they are distraught about failing life. The pressure is dumb and parents are a large part of that. For all the fear of children living in the house, turns out most of us get jobs, have families if we choose, and pay our own bills. Having it all figured out at eighteen is ridiculous. Second, I had no idea five years ago I would be a published author since I gave up that dream ten years ago. Turns out this spring/summer, I will be a published author. I guess I am not averse to plans, but I don’t want them too rigid that we miss opportunities when they arise.

Now for my second confession: I have made a five year pla . . . goal. I posted two nights ago that I wanted to hike the 160+ miles of two trails in Georgia before I turn 55, which is five years way. Doing what little arithmetic I am capable of, I need to cover some twenty miles of each trail during the year for five years to reach my goal. I padded the number so that if I don’t make the twenty miles per year I am still on track.

Here is the reason for this post: the picture at the top of the post are the data books and maps for the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Appalachian Trail (North Carolina to Georgia sections). They arrived today. I have begun planning and hope to have section one of each of the trails, which both begin at Springer Mountain, done in January. The entire loop will be about twelve miles. I have asked my sons and a few friends to join me on this journey. We will have day hikes of five to ten miles and overnight hikes that will stretch beyond ten miles and sometimes cover two sections of a trail. I have decided to post here because folks sometimes come to the site to read my posts and it can serve as a kind of accountability. But since I have tried to make the site about my professional life I’ll give a brief explanation of why I am posting about hiking.

I found that when I hike/exercise my brain tends to focus on my scholarly or teaching projects. While my thinking is not exclusive to those professional activities, I find that I can work out some idea or thought while walking. As I start a new project—Martin Luther King Jr. and the Vietnam War—I look forward to exploring north Georgia with family and friends as I think about how King’s vision for a “world house” caused him to see value in loving one’s enemies, even national enemies. I’ll post more about the project in the future, but for now I have to get back to planning the first of many hikes.

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