In the Disney-Pixar movie Moana, the song that sets up our protagonist’s inner conflict is How Far I’ll Go. It sets up the hero’s quest, even as it gives a nod to the teen desire to find one’s place (which rarely is at home)
It’s on a Disney music playlist that I like turn on when I need some energy on a short run. (along with Touch the Sky from Brave and Go the Distance from Hercules.
Anyway – How Far I’ll Go was one reason I named my first triathlon training bike Moana. Moving from the sprint to olympic distance rides, the lyrics of the refrain felt both descriptive and aspirational
The line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know, how far I’ll go
The other day, though, I felt that pull in a completely different setting.
I had just climbed up to the Clingmans Dome observation tower. It was a gorgeous morning in that part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The mountains were verdant and lush, and just peeking out over their trademark blanket of misty clouds.
I had seen on the maps that just beyond the paved path, I should be able to locate where the Appalachian Trail intersected with the far western end of the North Carolina Mountain-to-Sea trail. I’ve been hoping to walk a few more stretches of the MTS while I’m in the state, so why not track that down?
I followed a sign and scrambled down a few rocky steps to find myself in that exact intersection. I walked a ways down the MST, until the canopy and the wildflowers and their insect friends started crowding the path.
And then I realized the repellant was in the car, not on me.
So I went back up to the trailhead and looked in the direction of the Appalachian Trail.
And all of a sudden, my heart leapt. And started singing..
The line where sky meets the trees? It calls me
And no one knows how far it goes
One day I’ll go...
There something about the beach that calms me and something about cities that energizes me.
But there is something altogether different about the trail
The marked and yet always evolving paths
The challenge of getting up and over and down and across obstacle
The light through the canopy, the crunch underfoot and the birds overhead
It calls me. And next time, I’ll have my gear.
And when I cross that line, there’s no telling how far I’ll go.