Matt Propert

freelance photo editor and photographer
   
JUST KEEP WALKING
Location: Europe and USA
Nationality: USA
Biography: Matt Propert is a photographer and photo editor based out of the US and Europe. His photography has been shown in one-person exhibitions and published nationally and internationally. His work has been featured in many National Geographic books... MORE
Public Story
JUST KEEP WALKING
Copyright Matt Propert 2022
Date of Work Mar 2018 - Jun 2018
Updated Jul 2019
Topics Appalachian trail, Documentary, Fine Art, hiking, iPhone, Landscape, Mixed Medium, Photography, Travel
Just Keep Walking • A 1300 mile walk on the Appalachian Trail

In the Spring of 2018 I left my car in a dirt parking lot in the rural mountains of Georgia and started walking north on a narrow footpath. I had left my life behind and was prepared to walk until I simply didn’t feel like walking any longer, or I reached the end of the path. I had six months before winter set in. Those were uncertain days, and looking back at my lonely car as I walked away with no more than a backpack full of equipment, I had the distinct sensation that I may never see it again. I had very few ideas about what lay ahead on my journey, but I was certain that I was walking away from my life as I knew it.

Over the course of the next 95 days I experienced wind, snow, ice, dehydration, insects, heat, fatigue, rain, pain, bears, and yet miraculously I found a way to make peace with all of it. My poems gave me purpose. My pictures confirmed to me that this was really happening. I wrote with fingers clutching a frozen pen. I wrote naked, soaked in sweat and covered in mosquito bites and blisters. I wrote as the sound of raindrops falling on my tent lulled me to sleep. I wrote to confront the deepest sense of loneliness I had ever felt, and I wrote to make light of situations that pushed me to my absolute limit mentally and physically. Most of all I wrote to fully realize and penetrate the expansion occurring in my mind and spirit. The path became the great metaphor and teacher. Every day new lessons were revealed to me. All I had to do was just keep walking.

In the end it took a little over three months and 1300 miles for the trail to teach me all the lessons I was ready for. For someone seeking answers through contemplation in nature, a walk like this would continue to enlighten indefinitely, should they have the resources and will to push on. There is no end to what the mountains, forests, weather, and animals can reveal to us.

I wrote poems (about 400) and made photographs from the first day until the last. I hope that by viewing this small selection you can experience a taste of what it was like to put one foot in front of the other, day after day, traversing mountains and experiencing the highs, lows, and serene awareness that arises from immersion in the wild.
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