Anticipation, anxiety, and approaching the trail
Hello everyone, and welcome to my journey! I’m glad you’re coming along. My name is Megan, trail name TBD ( maybe that will change here soon). I am a not so fit no so coordinated occasional backpacker, and I have been dying to take my first steps in to the thru hiking world.
How we got here
My beginnings in backpacking were not the most graceful, which makes sense as I’m not a particularly graceful person. After losing my grandmother in 2019 I decided the best cure for my sadness would be a trip home to Mt Rainier. Rainier has always brought me peace so disappearing into it seemed the best solution.
I “planned” a 3 day trip. We say “planned” because I didn’t look at maps. I didn’t look at where my campsites were located in relation to each other or how I would get there, and I did no research in to the supplies I would really need. I initially started on the wrong trail to my first camp and nearly turned an 8 mile hike into almost 15, luckily I was saved by a lovely park ranger. I followed him back, got a map, and drove to the appropriate trail head. Once there I “pack” my bag and head out. The “packing” involved way too many things I didn’t need, forgetting things I did need, and too much weight in an Ill fitted pack. I then spent the night at a very remote site, with a tent I’d never set up before (I’d never really set up any tent alone) with food in my tent ( granola bars because I didn’t think to pack dinner) and no water because I didn’t think about how I’d filter it and I drank all I’d brought. The next day was not much better as I burned myself with the hot water I’d gotten to make noodles and then fell down hill and pulled a muscle in my leg.
For as wrong as that trip went, I took everything that happened to me as a learning experience and have grown every trip since.
Every excursion I make the trail provides me some kind of lesson : test your gear before you go, pack before you leave the house instead of in the car, bring maps and read them BEFORE you go, etc, etc, etc.
I truly try my very best to listen so the trail doesn’t have to tell me twice
Where we’re going
Very soon I’m going to be starting my biggest outdoor adventure to date, a loop of the Benton Mackaye and Appalachian trails. After thru hiking the BMT it links with the AT so that I can very conveniently walk myself back to Amicalola where I am starting. Conveniently being a term used fairly loosely in this context. All told including the approach trail at the start and end of my trip it ends up at about 550 miles in 32 days with one scheduled zero. The furthest I have traveled at any given time before this has been about 4 days and 40 miles. Needless to say this is a bit of a jump.
I do not currently have time to hike the whole Appalachian trail, and I do think it important to do something longer than 4 days before tackling that. Because of this I had originally decided to do 500 miles of the AT. A nice round number, and I wouldn’t have to take too long off. But then came the logistical issue of how to get back to GA from where the trail hits 500 miles, and it wasn’t looking easy. That’s when the Internet brought me to the Benton Mackaye. I could still hit my 500 mark like I wanted(and then some) and simply walk myself right back to GA instead of having to drive or fly! What a great idea!!
So began the last year of planning and plotting. Going over maps and guide books, reading books from thru hikers, reading posts from people on the trails. Researching and researching new gear. And now we’ve arrived at May! The cat has a sitter, the child is off to visit her grandmother, and my pack is packed. So what’s left except to agonize over tiny details that I have no control over!
I’m constantly asked how it is that I’m not scared to do this alone. The answer is I’m scared about 80% of the day. Scared of dangerous people, scared of animals, scared of hurting myself (which I’m honestly very good at). It isn’t particularly helpful that the BMT is so much more isolated than the AT. I hiked a section a little while ago to get the feel for it and was shocked at how different it was even though it was through the same area as the much more trafficked AT. And then came the closure of some sections to camping because of an aggressive bear.
All these things aside I am more excited than I can say to set out. Once my feet are on trail I try my best to be at peace and not let the “what if” thoughts sink in. This also truly feels to me like a test of wether or not I can handle all the grand plans I’ve been forming in my mind and my journals for next year and the years to follow.
So that’s me! A big ball of chaos who only knows how to calm down when left alone in the trees. June rapidly approaches and with it my arrival at Amicalola. Let’s see what the trail has to teach me this year!
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