A 10 Year Dream: Why I’m Hiking the AT

When I was young, I remember my mom telling stories of her great post-graduate adventure through a mountain range out east called the Appalachians. 10 year-old me loved listening to her elaborate on everything “Appalachian Trail”. Scary poems at graveyards, torrential downpours, summiting great peaks- her tales covered them all. When she tells these stories now, a certain youthfulness returns to her; a sense of being alive. I can only imagine that this energy is derived from the nature she encountered over that period of time.

She inspired me.

And honestly, I’ve never thought that I was going to do anything else after I graduated college because of that.

So, consequently, here I am about to spend 5 months in the woods.

I’ve spent the past 4 months researching tents, testing weird dried food in my little MSR pocket rocket, and talking nearly nonstop about everything that I hope this journey will be (apologies to my housemates for the latter two). My backpacking experience includes some weekends with my dad through the Montana Rockies, which, if I’m being honest, consisted more of huckleberry picking and fly fishing than they did hiking.

Despite my lack of variety in conversation and filling my house with odd smells, I’ve received an incredible amount of support from my friends and family. I can’t imagine doing this without all of them behind me.

As a tribute to everyone out there who has given me anything from words of encouragement to my Big Agnes tent, I suppose you deserve an answer to why I am doing this. So without further adieu,

Why I am Hiking the Appalachian Trail:

  • I love the outdoors. Truly, LOVE them. I can’t explain how much happier I am when I get to be outside. I know that Maine’s black flies and Pennsylvania’s rocks will pose a definite challenge, but regardless, I am almost positive that I’ll be happier.
  • Challenges are thrilling to me.
  • I crave the idea of stepping up my physical and mental game.
  • With everything going on in the world- politically, socially, technologically- I don’t think it would hurt to take time for some fresh air, literally.
  • I want to prove to myself that I can.
  • My mom has convinced me that this time in her life guided her to where she is now, so maybe it will do the same for me.

Hopefully come October I will reach Springer Mountain, with a smile and maybe some celebratory champagne, but for now I’m ready to go walk for a while.




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Comments 9

  • Sean Sill : May 31st

    Always wanted to do it myself,Good luck, but keep an eye out for Vagabonds, and the riff raff that hang around the trails….again Good Luck!!!!!!!

    • Sean Sill : May 31st

      Ohhh please keep updates coming.

  • V C Leong : May 31st

    Good luck Kecks , all the best and take care. I am sure you will come out much stronger. Like any parent , I was so worried that my daughter did a solo 6 months back packing in South America in 2012. Although being rob twice , she came back with much stronger characters and so much stories to tell . Enjoy and have fun along the trek and be safe always….

  • Mike Castanza : May 31st

    Good luck kiddo. Especially in the Mahoosic Notch ! It’s like a giant jungle gym ! I recommend Shaws in Monson too !What’s your trail name.I’m Snailmail .

    • Keckeley Habel : Jun 1st

      Haven’t gotten there yet! But I’ll be sure to update everyone when its decided!

  • GoGo : Jun 2nd

    Living the dream! Be safe and keep us updated please.

  • BarbN : Jun 3rd

    Go, go, go! We’re so excited for you and will be following along. Love from all the Nelsons.

  • Aunt K : Jun 3rd

    Can’t wait to read along as you take on the trail! With you in thoughts and prayers miss adventurer!

  • Cheryl : Jun 4th

    Good luck ? its definitely a challenge and I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures ?


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