274 days

In just 274 days I leave for the Appalachian Trail. The culmination of over 5 years worth of planning, gathering up gear, re-planning, stressing and re-planning again and it is almost here.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited.

In fact, I’ve never been more excited about anything in my life.

I don’t know a whole lot of people who don’t think I’m crazy for attempting this insane goal, and most likely going it alone on top of all that. This is a massive undertaking, easily the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted. Not to mention that the Appalachian Trail is HARD! And I’ve only hiked in the southern portion.

How am I ever going to manage The Whites??

I guess I get it. Who volunteers to poop in the woods when you can just stay at home and use that nice familiar toilet? Why would I purposefully forgo showers and soap and not smelling like ass? And the internet! That one really hits me where it hurts, but you know, I’m alright with missing all these things.

I know this is a trip that will likely be the most amazing thing I ever do. It’ll change who I am as a person and force me to see the world differently. I’ll make lifelong friends, experience things that I’d never experience anywhere else, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually make it to Katahdin.

Not Katahdin


Planning for this beast has already been the biggest life lesson in commitment I could ever hope for, I’ve had so many setbacks and more than once I was sure I was going to have to give up on this dream.

First off, I should have graduated college years ago but because I didn’t (pay attention in school kids, don’t make my mistakes) I have had to push my hike back a couple times. Then, in 2013 I fell off my horse and broke my back in 2 places. It ended any future I had hoped to have in riding and I was incredibly worried that I’d never be able to climb those beautiful mountains that I love so much again. Luckily, after a major overhaul of every piece of gear I owned, I was able to hit the trail again. I’ve been in an almost constant state of pain and/or discomfort since the accident so I was shocked to find that hiking is the closest thing to pain free that I’ve been in years.

I am also epileptic.  Though my form of seizures aren’t as severe as they could be, and as long as I get enough sleep and don’t stress too much, it isn’t really an obstacle.  However, figuring out the logistics of getting pills refilled and mailed to me every month has been less than fun. Long story short, I have the best mom in the world.

There is so much about this trip that makes me nervous. Bear attacks seem to have been on the rise lately and while I still maintain that those are freak occurrences and since I’ll be hiking with my dog once it warms up, I probably won’t have any trouble. Lyme disease scares the crap out of me. Injuring myself, the Whites, getting the stupidest trail name of 2016, just to name a few frightening possibilities. There’s also the small matter of missing season 6 of Game of Thrones. Someone is going to ruin it for me, I just know it.

But that is a small price to pay.

It took me a long time to write this post. I have no idea how to even articulate all of the excitement, nerves, and pre-hike jitters I’m feeling right now. Hopefully my next post won’t be so scattered and boring.


And now for some lists:

**I am thru-hiking the Appalachian trail because…

  • I NEED to prove to myself that I can do something amazing. Backpacking has been a huge confidence booster for me and I know that when I finish I’ll be ready to take on anything life throws at me.
  • It’s excellent exercise and could (if I don’t come home and continue to eat like I am still on trail) be a good jump start toward a healthier life
  • It’s the closest thing to pain free I’ve been since my accident
  • I need a renewed faith in humanity. I’ve become a little cynical about the state of the world
  • I love to food, and real food tastes so much better when you’ve been living off ramen and pasta sides
  • It is time for a change
  • The experience


**When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will…

  • Be a more confident person
  • Be healthier
  • Bing watch season 6 of Game of Thrones
  • Probably cry
  • Be ready to take on the world


**If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…

  • Probably cry
  • Feel that I have let myself down
  • Be a major loser


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Comments 4

  • Bob Rogers : Jun 23rd

    I’m new to this site, blogging, etc. I’m thinking of an ’16 thru hike. I love reading other people’s posts about their reasons… “In 1997 aliens abducted my cat. I had given him up as gone forever. Sept 13th at 3:07pm I got a post card from my cat saying I should hike the trail; he’ll be waiting at the end. I’ve been planning ever since…” or ” My parents took me camping the first time on my 14th birthday on the A.T.”… I don’t have a story like that. I can’t remember when I first learned about the A.T. I grew up on the east coast. It’s always been there. I don’t remember when I first thought hiking the whole trail was a good idea. The idea has always been there too. The bucket list is getting longer while the bucket is getting shorter.

    It’s time to make the dream a reality. And so, … I want to copy your homework!! I don’t see any shame in that. Why reinvent the wheel? I don’t have any medical needs that need your same level of attention. I do want to take a multi vitamin and a joint supplement. I’m not getting any younger. But, I don’t want to carry a Walgreen’s in my backpack either. A 500 count of Costco vitamins would weigh too much and take up too much space. as would a 180 count. I assume there is a way to email other members (if not I can post an email address). Would you be so kind as to send a schedule/location of mail drops you are planning?

    Hope to see you out on the trail,

    • Kelly Souva : Jun 24th

      Absolutely! I’ve only got my drops planned for the south because I figure as I get in better shape I’ll be able to make more miles and I can’t accurately gauge how many I’ll be doing until I’m out there (this is where the frustration comes in because I’d love to have it all figured out ahead of time). But I can tell you that I will be carrying a pill bottle like the one that comes from the pharmacy, stored in a zipper style zip-lock to keep it dry when I inevitably take a spill in a river or creek or whatever. My pills aren’t huge so the bottle is on the small side and holds a months worth. Because it’s epilepsy I have to err on the side of caution as far as the pills go so I don’t really mind carrying the extra. So, I’ll be starting off with a bottle, I’ll probably have some sent to the NOC to top me off through the Smokies. I would just send them to Fontana but I don’t really know of any good places to send mail drops there. There’s a post office I believe, but I don’t trust myself to be able to get there in time. I’m a super slow hiker. I would avoid sending to post offices as much as you can. After the NOC I’ll be sending them probably to Hot Springs or Erwin. And then I’ll have my mom bring me another months supply when she meets me in Damascus with my dog. This is all very tentative. I’ll call my mom when I’ve got about 2 weeks supply left and let her know where to send them. It definitely works best if you have someone at home who can mail them to you.

      I hope that helped, if you want to know anything else my email is kelly.souva (at) gmail. com.

  • Tonda Wyatt Johnson : Jun 24th

    You go Kelly! I will be making my journey in 2016 going SOBO. I am only in the dreaming and planning stage and gathering equipment and learning more about the trial, LOL I mean trail. The time will be right if all goes as planned. Getting excited and working on my list. Take care and good luck. Tonda

    • Kelly : Jul 1st

      Thanks! I hope to see you out there!


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