August 2012

One Year Later

Last Wednesday, August 22, marked my one year anniversary of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. 

In it of itself, that is maybe worthy of a Facebook status.  This post is dedicated to reflecting on where my life, or more accurately, my mindset, has since gone.

I’m Back

When Michael Jordan made this proclamation in 1995, it was without question the two sweetest words any Chicago Bulls fan could possibly hear (and equally as bitter for the other 29 teams – suck it Karl Malone/Patrick Ewing/Reggie Miller/Shawn Kemp).

When I say I’m back, I mean it in the – holy fuck what kind of routine have I fallen into – sort of way.  When I say I’m back, I mean I’m back to working 60+ hour weeks.  I’m back to living in my inbox.  I’m back to sweating the bullshit – the same person who actively acknowledged that everything is the bullshit.

I knew I wanted to write this post – although I hadn’t a clue about which direction to take it (disclosure: that’s my usual formula).  Just before I sat down to open up the faucet of thoughts, my earbuds (which were attached to my iPhone) snagged onto my belt and subsequently yanked my phone onto my bedroom’s hardwood floor and smashed the screen into 100 pieces.  This was after a full day of mundane, administrative tasks and thankless chores (commonly referred to as “headaches”).  Needless to say, if there was a face within arm’s reach, it would have been punched.  The shattered iFriend coupled with the carousel of task oriented thoughts began pushing my internal PSI near the “WE’LL DO IT LIVE” meltdown zone.

It then occurred to me, if you were to take a Polaroid of the August 22, 2012 Zach Davis and contrast it to the 2011 version, it’s clear that much has changed, and I’m not just referring to the majestic fire beard.  The serene, unshakable, and eternally optimistic Badger has been replaced with his easily annoyed twin.

The trail hasn’t bestowed me with the gift of unconditional and unwavering joy.  But it has offered me a worthy consolation: perspective.

When confronted with a challenging day, the pre-trail Good Badger believed that life’s events were out to get him, or at the very least, were unfolding unfavorably.  Like magnets, bad events would seem to attract one another until I was a moving manifestation of Murphy’s Law.  The mental radio was playing 40 stations at once, gradually building into a cacophony of angry static.  And that angry static was the medium through which life was observed.

Today the angry static still has a way of finding this radio, but unlike before, I’ve located the “off” switch.  I’ve learned that life isn’t the DJ; I’m the one laying down the tracks.  And the only way to change the song is to stop singing along, but instead listen objectively.  The space between the radio and the radiohead is the happy medium.

To un-radio-metaphor the above: life doesn’t cause your unhappiness, you do.  My iPhone shattered and immediately my internal monolog responded with, “FFFUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKK WHY FUCK SHIT FUCK NO SHIT NO FUCK WHY”.  After the mini-internal tantrum, however, I was able to remind myself, that 1) it’s not my health (other than perhaps a slight myocardial infarction) 2) it’s not the health of a loved one, and 3) I HAVE AN IPHONE TO BREAK.  The screen on my pocket laptop is now a little harder to read.  They’re called White People Problems because they’re not real problems.  Nobody should feel bad about my smashed iPhone display, myself included.

The moral of the story is that my greatest take away from the trail – that real happiness is a mindset, not a set of conditions – is occasionally forgotten.  I still get pulled into my own bullshit factory.  But unlike before, I now have the road-map to find my way out.  And although it may take a bit to discover that I’ve strayed, this GPS is shatter-proof.


Sidenote: I will be speaking at the REI in Charlotte, NC next week.  If you can, come say hello.

the Good Badger Live, Uncut, Unraveled, Uncensored, Unlocked, Uncle, Unnecessarily Long Title

Hey team,

I ran out of un’s.  If I missed any, feel free to throw them in the comment rectangle at the bottom of this weblog.


If you live in the Bay Area, you have the rare opportunity to see the Good Badger in front of a projector screen, taking you inside the mind of a thru-hiker, talking about running away from serial killers, and of course, showcasing the half-year evolution of a ManBeard.

Here are some relevant details:

When: Tuesday, August 7th; 7:00 – 8:30pm.  The talk is 60 minutes.  The Q&A is 30, or until someone forces me to go home.  I will warn you, I’m very strong.

Where:  REI – Saratoga. 400 El Paseo de Saratoga, San Jose, CA 95130.  They call it Saratoga’s REI.  The address is San Jose.  Your guess is as good as mine.

What:  This is the description REI is using:

“In March 2011, Zach Davis set out from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to hike the length of the Appalachian Trail-2,181 miles to Mount Katahdin, Maine; he’d never backpacked before. Tonight, Zach will share his perspectives on making a successful thru-hike, including highlights from his new book, “Appalachian Trials-A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail”. As Zach shows images of his journey northward through the spectacular wilderness lands of the East Coast states-Great Smoky Mountain and Shenandoah National Parks, White Mountain National Forest, and more, he’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of gearing up for an adventure of this magnitude, as well as the remarkable impact of the trail on the body and the spirit. If you register for this free presentation at, we will hold a seat for you until the scheduled start time. Seating may be available at the door, even if registration is closed.”

Here’s my description:  Do you want to know what it’s like to walk ~2,200 miles without actually having to doing it?  Ok, come to the talk.

Why: Because you’ll surely get your money’s worth.

Cost:  Free.

If you know someone who lives in the Bay Area who enjoys doing things, can you please pass this along?  Have them tell me you sent them, and I will give them an uncomfortable bear hug in front of everyone.

Also important, if you do plan on going, you must register for the event.  Not only does this get the planner person off my case, but it ensures that they save you a seat.  Win, win.


Also, I’ll be selling some copies of Appalachian Trials (at a discount), followed by my scribbling in your book upon request.

I think that’s all the relevant information.

Truly yours,