2018: AT Part II


Hello everyone, Furiosa here again with my final update on my 2017 AT attempt… it’s a bust. My knee is just not ready, and I’m awaiting surgery sometime in November (when healthcare enrollment starts). Even though much of the pain has subsided, my knee buckles without warning. This has caused me to randomly fall over and catch myself slamming into walls, people, or the good ole dirt.

If I can’t walk normally, how am I gonna hike mountains with a 20+ pound pack?

Yeah, not safely or enjoyably. It wouldn’t be worth the pain.

Sinking In…

So, how do you come back from a failed hike? Well, first you have to stop beating yourself up – which I am a pro at – and just accept that shit happens. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. My hike only ended because I was badly injured, even though I acted like it wasn’t that bad while I hiked with folks on the trail. I didn’t want people to worry, even though they did anyway.

The thing is, I keep looking at my hike as a failure instead of an accomplishment. I got all the way to the 1/3rd mark on the trail: 730 heading NoBo. That’s impressive, seeing as I hiked about 500 miles of it on a torn knee.

I think the stigma towards phrases like “Katahdin or Bust” or “No Rain, No Pain, No Maine” make folks who didn’t complete the trail feel like failures, or that they weren’t strong enough to become a thruhiker. Honestly, I was embarrassed to be out of the game. I felt like people from the trail were saying, “Aha, I knew she wouldn’t make it.”

Why do we immediately go towards the negatives in our head? It might just be me, seeing as I deal with clinical depression and anxiety disorder. But still, it’s hard to accept you’re not a thruhiker when that’s all you keep hearing about. You see friends complete their journeys, and you bash yourself in your own head for screwing up.


You’ve just gotta shut it all out. All the negativity going on needs to stop, because you’ll get stuck on it and never move on. Oh well, I’m not a thruhiker. I got injured and had to go home. Mentally, I am always on the trail. I’ve already registered for a 2018 hike on the ATC website, and I’m ready to give this another go. In the end, we’re all hikers, we will all hike the same amount of miles… and we all have different paths and timeframes to complete it. Whatever on the title. I’d like to be an official AT thruhiker one day, and I believe it’ll happen down the road.

The Plan…

Right now the game plan is to go to 2018 Trail Days, see friends, enjoy the festival, and get back on trail right afterwards in PA (where I’m from). I’ll then hike north to Katahdin, and flip back down south to finish the sections from VA to PA that I missed. I might even start at Harper’s Ferry instead. As May gets closer, I’ll have a finalised path. I’ll most likely finish this hike in 2018 as a section hiker (1/3rd 2017 and 2/3rds 2018) as long as I don’t injure myself again. If I’m feeling saucy and still have funds, I’ll either thruhike the Long Trail in Vermont right after, or I’ll say “screw it” and hike the 1/3rd from 2017 as a SoBo and do a full thruhike. My brain has been producing some crazy ideas, so who knows what’ll happen in 2018. Right now I need to get my ass in gear and make money for this damn trail!!

Gear Changes…

So with the fact I hiked a good portion of the trail this year, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my gear. I’ve learned what I do and do not like, some great trail hacks, what food I need, and what I want to do for next year. I am eagerly awaiting the release of Osprey’s Lumina UL bag, that’ll weigh around 1.76 lbs. compared to my Osprey Aura that comes in at a whopping 4.2 lbs.! I’ll also switch out my sleeping bag from a Mountain Hardware Flame (2.8 lbs.) to something much lighter.

To any 2018 AT hikers, BE AS LIGHT AS YOU CAN. I didn’t take it to heart this time las year when I watched documentaries and read blogs. Dude, they were all right. The lighter you are, the more your body will thank you. I’m planning to go as light as possible without breaking the bank.

Just Trekking Along…

What’s even better is the fact I’ll be blogging for you guys all winter and summer next year! I have a bunch of gear review posts set up, I’m filming some videos and taking photos, so that all the folks who were in my shoes last year will have yet another hiker to watch while they eagerly await their upcoming hike.

I’m so thankful to be a part of The Trek family of bloggers/writers/hikers. If anything, the trail has taught me that this is where I belong in life. I want to document it all more than ever for people who are entering this community, as well as folks who can’t hike these long trails. I want you guys to come along on this journey.

I’ve learned that I need to take a different approach to blogging next year during my hike. I want to update more than I did this time, and keep a better journal. It’s all about trial and error.

Be sure to subscribe to my posts with your email on my profile page to keep up with my ongoing prep for 2018 and flashbacks to this year’s 2017 section hike! And make sure to follow me on the social media links listed below for tons of images!

Keep on keeping on, family.

•  Furiosa •

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© Amber Redfield


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Comments 4

  • TBR : Oct 2nd

    Sorry to hear about the busted knee and busted hike, but … the woods will be there.

    I think section hikers enjoy themselves more … don’t carry the burden of “Gotta finish!” Can pace themselves and live in tune with the mountains for a while and not worry about mileage, too much, anyway.

    Hope the repair goes well.

    • Amber Redfield : Oct 2nd

      Thanks, I am bummed too but you’re exactly right. The woods will be there!

      I’m excited to go about it without rushing. The stress of “miles miles miles” did take the overall fun out of it. There were days I wanted to stay at a location for hours, but knew my timeframe didn’t allow it. That really sucked, so I can’t wait to go at it and stay wherever the heck I want this time!

      Thanks so much. Same here 🙂

  • Jim zielinski( Just Plain Jim) : Oct 3rd

    After I had my 2nd knee replacement and went through rehab. I bought ankle weights and started strengthening the muscles above my knees. This was in April 2011. I started walking the neighborhood hills added a daypack a couple of months later. In 2012 I hiked with a pack weighing 23 lbs. I kept adding weight and got up to 30 lbs. My niece and I section hiked part of Vermont. I took my time and it paid off.

    • Amber Redfield : Oct 3rd

      That’s so great to hear! I’m glad you got back out there and didn’t let your body slow you down. I’m slowly building all my muscles back up and taking my time so that I’m ready to go in May.


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