I have only had a chance to read the first chapter of your book, since it was free to download, but I have now ordered a copy and am patiently waiting to read the whole thing. So I'm not sure if my input relates to this chapter or not, so feel free to move it if it doesn't.
I've been planning a thru-hike of the AT for more than half my life, and a couple years ago I sat down and wrote about why I wanted to do the thru-hike, and in general why I love hiking and backpacking so much. This is what I wrote:
The primary reason I want to thru-hike the AT is to simplify my life.
For some reason we (or maybe just I) are creatures of need and creatures of worry. No matter how fulfilling our lives seem to be, we are driven to keep having new goals, and keep having things think about and keep our minds occupied. These are our "needs". If you "had everything you wanted," you'd feel bored, and suddenly feel that something else was missing. We always have "needs."
Needs belong on a sort of a ladder. Basic needs on the bottom: air, then water, then food... etc. As one moves up the ladder (maybe it's a pyramid or a reverse pyramid, I don't know, but that is beside the point), needs become more complex. We need shelter, family, community, love, power, money, etc. Perhaps this ladder is different depending on the person, but the basic few rungs are the same for all. One cannot advance up the ladder of needs until the rung before it has been fulfilled. For example, I cannot worry about being thirsty when I have no air to breath, and similarly, I cannot worry about community when I have no food in my stomach.
Hiking brings us down the ladder of needs close to the bottom. We have to worry about water, food, shelter, rain, pain, fatigue, stress, etc. Everyone on the trail is dealing with these same basic needs, and we are all trying to fulfill them for months at a time. This not only brings people together in the most amazing and basic ways, but also pushes aside the need to worry about money, power, jobs, etc- the type of "need" that finds itself further up the ladder.
The beauty of the needs on the first few rungs of the ladder is that they are simple, and therefore can be simply solved. When a need is fulfilled, we feel the most simple and genuine form of happiness. There is nothing like walking for mile after mile, getting covered in dirt and grime and sleeping on hard earth with soggy clothes in the cold, and then stopping for a hot shower and a night in a real bed. You will never have a better shower. Trust me. The things we take for granted suddenly become so precious and wonderful.
So what am I trying to say? I think what I'm trying to say is that hiking 2000 plus miles is in some perverted way going to bring me more happiness and give me a concrete attainable goal.