Still Trying to Wrap My Head Around This
Time is flying by, and in almost exactly two months, I’ll be starting my thru hike on the Appalachian Trail.
It seems crazy to me that it’s this close already. I started planning for this almost a year ago, and at that point it seemed so far away that it was barely reality, even as I watched the class of 2017 start off on their adventures. I watched their YouTube videos and read their blogs, and saw some who seemed to relish every single moment even when it sucked, and some who hit huge barriers with health or circumstance and dropped out.
Very, very soon that’s going to be me.
I grew up in Milwaukee, and while I’ve been camping since I was really young, I wasn’t what you would consider “outdoorsy” until relatively recently. In the past three years I’ve gone from someone who hated going to the gym to someone who has considered buying a third bike (a mountain bike this time). I’ve spent a ton of time outside in the last three years as a sailing instructor, but I’m definitely still new to backpacking. I’ve always loved hiking though, and I’m looking forward to testing my limits and getting in crazy good shape on a thru hike.
Am I ready for this?
I still feel vastly unprepared, and I’m not sure if that feeling is inevitable, or a result of me actually failing to prepare enough. I have some evidence of preparation: I have almost all of my gear, and I’ve used most of it on an overnight backpacking trip. I made my Appalachian Trials lists about why I want to thru hike. I currently have three jobs, and have managed to save what I hope will be enough money. I’ve spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos about hiking.
On the other hand, I’ve only been on two backpacking trips in my life, both just one night, both this past summer, and both in beautiful weather. (Not that either of them went perfectly-more about these in another blog). I’m pretty sure the notebook I made my lists in is packed away in my friend’s basement with most of my stuff, so I might have to make new ones. My three jobs don’t actually pay that much, so I still worry endlessly about not saving enough and running out of money. I probably have spent more time sitting on the couch reading about hiking than actually hiking in the last couple of months. It doesn’t help that I live in Wisconsin, and finding hiking with decent elevation gain is sometimes challenging. Also it’s winter, and the average temperature in the last week was 1.6° F, which doesn’t make it super appealing to spend lots of time outside.
So basically, despite having over a year to prepare for this, I’m still a big ball of nerves.
But I’m also crazy excited to actually get started and experience this thru-hiking thing I’ve read so much about. I’m learning, especially now, to take things as they come and try to relax. And I’m looking forward to having this blog as a way to process what I’m feeling and share it with family and friends and random internet strangers.
See you on the trail in 58 days!
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