I decided to take a gap year, really, for a number of reasons. The simple answer would be that for some odd reason, I had an undying desire to hike 2,173 miles, to be uncomfortably cold from sleeping in below-freezing temperatures, to sweat in disgusting heat, to get eaten by mosquitoes, to carry 40 lbs on my back, to go days without showering, and to shit in the woods. I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail - a long distance trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. Five million steps.
What inspired me was Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, a genuinely hilarious first-hand account of Bryson's attempt to hike the trail with his overweight and rather difficult friend, Katz. Throughout the book, Bryson complains in loving detail the hardships that accompany backpacking in the woods day after day - the disgusting food, the soreness and pain, the blisters, the dangers of bears/snakes/disease etc. etc. And so naturally, after reading about how much it SUCKED, I decided that there was nothing I wanted to do more. Thus, insert gap year.