A Thank You Post To Friends And Family

Brandee, Beo, and I will officially begin our Appalachian Trail thru-hike today.

Excuse me for a moment as I let that last sentence soak in.

For Brandee and me, this has been a long time coming. One full year of preparation and sacrifice has culminated in the three of us, finally realizing an idea. A simple conversation about bucket lists has brought us to this point.

Last night, we sat in an Atlanta hotel room, putting the finishing touches on our gear, anxiously awaiting the start of an adventure of a lifetime. (And listening to Beo snore.)

“From this moment on, no matter what happens on the trail, we will have already achieved so much.”

I recently had a very good friend, Mike, tell me exactly that. And you know what? He is right. Taking a chance to realize your dreams isn’t easy to do, and the three of us have done it. Everything from this moment forward will be the fulfillment of this risk we have taken. I truly believe our first steps onto Springer Mountain will come with an exhale so massive that our friends and families will hear them back home in Virginia and Florida. Don’t worry, Mom, we are ok.

Getting to this point also required help from those same friends and family.

We are truly blessed to have this opportunity, and I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone.

First, I want to thank my mom and my sister, Cami. Because Brandee and I want to eat some delicious home-cooked food while we hike (and in an attempt to save some money), we have dehydrated around 100 meals and are sending them to ourselves along the trail. We nearly wore out our Nesco food dehydrator and vacuum sealer doing it, but we believe it will be worth it. We will be picking up these meals in resupply boxes all along the trail, doing our best to make sure to stay away from post offices as much as possible. We will mostly be utilizing hostels as pick-up spots. (From what we have heard, post offices in some of these small trail towns have unpredictable hours and could wreak havoc on your hiking plans.) My incredible mother and sis will be divvying up this huge responsibility and heading to the post office to send out most of the food we will eat on the trail. Thank you, ladies.

I am giving a HUGE thank you to my previous/current employer. Most of my pre-trail anxiety has come from walking away from responsibilities, including my job. It took a black bear-sized weight off of my shoulders when my bosses told me that they would welcome me back with welcome arms. When I get off the trail, I know that I will have work and that, from what I have read, eases the transition into post-trail life. And for that, I thank you.

Thank you to my father. You immediately believed in Brandee and me when we told you we would be attempting this. You have offered to help with everything, including flying down here to Atlanta, dropping us off at Amicalola Falls State Park, and taking care of my car for the next six to seven months. One less thing for me to worry about while I get comfortable with being uncomfortable on the trail. You also helped me to realize that I NEED to share this story. Thank you, Dad.

Thank you to Brandee’s two boys, and my brother Justin. You have always been supportive of Brandee and me, and that truly means the world to me. You also helped haul furniture down four flights of stairs in the cold. (I didn’t forget about you, Leo.) You are also helping with storing Brandee’s vehicle, which is her baby. (I mean it, that is her baby. She LOVES her 4-runner.) Thank you, gentlemen.

I also want to thank my co-worker and good friend, Khaled. When I told you that I wanted to record our thru-hike to have some amazing memories to watch later, your eyes lit up. I should have been scared, but you assured me that we would make some amazing videos, and you didn’t disappoint.  EVERYONE loves our intro video on YouTube. You have a gift!  You also helped me believe that I have a story to tell, and I am happy I listened. I want everyone to know that it doesn’t matter what you look like if you want to thru-hike, and you have helped to realize that vision. I look forward to seeing your edits and sharing them with everyone. Thank you, sir.

To Brandee’s family in Florida: Thank you. Spending the last few days eating, drinking and laughing with you has been just what the doctor ordered. You have always made me feel welcome and this time was no different. Believe me when I tell you, I am the lucky one in this relationship.

I also want to thank anyone who has spent time with me over the past 6 months. That is when Brandee and I officially announced that we would be doing this, and I have not shut up about it. Seriously. It has been over the top. EVERYTHING has reminded me of hiking. I struck up a conversation with someone in the bathroom stalls because they had a pair of Hoka Speedgoats on. Who am I??? I have watched entirely too many YouTube videos of other hikers’ thru-hike attempts (I recommend Jay Wanders Out) and read too many articles about hiking gear. Listening to me drone on about taking off of work for 6 months can be exhausting. I know that I have been unbearable in that regard, and I thank you for listening to me.

I want to thank all of YOU for taking the time to read this blog! I never envisioned myself sharing my thoughts and feelings for the entire world to read. Hiking isn’t the only thing that I am doing to push myself to do something new.  I have never been much of a writer. Thank you for being supportive of me with your comments. It has made me feel extremely welcomed. You have also made me feel that sharing my thoughts with all of you is important. I hope to meet all of you on the trail, someday.

Finally, I want to thank Brandee.

This is YOUR dream! The smile you had on your face when we closed that storage unit door was epic. You too, can’t believe we have gotten here. I have to agree with you that we can do anything we put our minds to. We are an incredible team. Thank you for allowing me to tag along and annoy you with my GoPro. (Now I just need to get you on camera!)

All of my friends and family have encouraged me to get out there and push myself to do something I would never do in a million years. Well, I guess It must be year 1,000,001, because the three of us are about to start an adventure of our lifetimes.

It was blog posts like these that helped encourage me to get to this point. I will do my best to share as many stories from the trail as I can. I hope to send out updates and pictures every 200 miles, at the very least. If I don’t, you will have to excuse me. I will be very busy walking to Katahdin and intently listening for the rest of the exhales from Springer Mountain.

Now…. It is off to Amicalola Falls so we can start!!!

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Comments 8

  • bamos : Feb 8th

    Wishing all three of you the happiest trails. I look forward to living your adventure from Boston! Safe Travels to you, Brandee & Beo!!!

    • CJ Roberts : Feb 10th

      Thank you!

  • Susan Jean Fineagan : Feb 8th

    Hi, all the best to you and your loved ones. I too am a little over the top this past year. Everything hiking, the Trek, gear, shake downs, etc. I leave for flip flop thru-hike May 1 2028/2029 upon retirement. Will share your successful journey online here. Lead on to victory. Thank you all.

    • CJ Roberts : Feb 10th

      Thank you! We wish you the best of luck!

  • PAUL MICKLEY : Feb 8th

    I look forward to hearing an seeing your journey. Thank you for sharing it with us. How can I find your YouTube video(s)?

  • Crossword : Feb 9th

    The outdoors is for everyone! Hike on!

    • CJ Roberts : Feb 10th

      Yes it is!


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