I start my Appalachian Trail thru hike in 16 days. What an insane sentence to write. If you told me a year ago that this was the next chapter of my life, my mind would be blown. In the winter of 2016, I moved across the country to California to support my then-husband during his PhD program. Unfortunately, he left me for another person not long after I arrived. In a city where I knew very few people and had yet to settle into my career path, I woke up most days and fell asleep most most nights with the same nagging question: “What the hell should I do with my life now?”
Hands down, the best thing about my move to California is the passion I developed for being in nature. I don’t come from an outdoorsy family, and access to the wilderness isn’t quite the same in the Midwest. I started hiking regularly as soon as I moved to California, and before long, a rigorous trek became an essential part of my week. When everything else felt in disarray, hiking kept me centered. It kept me moving forward. It gave me time to breathe, reflect, and push my boundaries.
My friend Gina, a frequent doer of crazy things, mentioned almost as an afterthought that I could hike the Appalachian Trail. Yeah right, I thought. Wasn’t it, like, a super intense commitment? Sure, it would be a fun adventure, but I couldn’t take so much time “off” from my life…right? I mean, who does that….
But the seed was planted. As other potential future plans (ex. “Is now a good time to get my MFA??”) diminished in their luster and likelihood, my Google search history filled with AT related topics. Hiking turned into camping turned into backpacking. In late fall, I finally pulled the trigger on this mammoth undertaking. Most Northbound AT hikers start in Georgia between mid-March and mid-April, leaving my only a handful of months to build my gear inventory and do a TON of planning. It was a challenge I eagerly accepted.
So here we are. I start my AT thru hike in 16 days. 2190 miles across 14 states, 6 months from Georgia to Maine.
For now, this quick introduction will do. I needed to get this journal up and running. It already feels more real.
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