Another AT introduction post? You betcha!
Well hi there!
I’m Miranda (trail name tbd) and this is my very first post as a blogger for the Trek (cue air horns- *pewwwww pew pew pew pewwwww*)! I’m going to be starting a nobo thru hike of the AT on February 26 and I’ll be posting updates about my journey here periodically as I go. If you’re reading this you probably fall into one of two groups: you’re a reader of the Trek that knows nothing about me or you’re a friend or family member that knows nothing about thru hiking; hopefully this post will have some fun new information for you regardless of which you are. This first post is mostly going to be introducing myself and giving a quick overview of the AT, definitely nothing unique on this site, so if you’re taking the time to read this post out of all the AT thru hiking intros out there then I really appreciate it.
Yikes, how do you distill yourself into a few eye catching sentences? Well here goes.
I’m a wildlife biologist from North Carolina that has spent the last few years in school/working in Massachusetts, New York, West Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico. I’m a big fan of reading (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), eating all the food, dogs, and obviously spending time outside.
I’ve known about the AT for years coming from NC, but the idea to thru hike it didn’t come to me until after an amazing semester abroad in New Zealand during college. During this semester I was heading out almost every weekend to climb mountains, explore the local beaches, ski, and camp all around that gorgeous country, and coming back from this amazing experience to another semester of being mostly indoors in Boston was a rough transition. During this time I picked up the book Becoming Odyssa and the thru hiking spark ignited. I must have spent more time researching gear and reading blog posts than I did on homework that semester (sorry mom). Just about a year after deciding I wanted to thru hike I spent my spring break doing a section hike with my dad from Newfound Gap to Hot Springs, NC which was very fun and very chilly (17 degree nights and only 32 degree sleeping bags, brrrrr). Even sharing gear our packs were about 35-40 lbs for that trip, which I was not pleased with, but that did give me an excuse to spend even more time researching gear for my thru (yay!).
Over the last couple years I haven’t been able to get out on the AT, but thru hiking has never been too far from my mind. Now things have finally lined up and the time is right. I’ll be finishing a six month job and house lease in early February, have saved up enough money, got all the gear and am ready to go!
The decision to write about my experience was a pretty easy one. I’ve relied on The Trek a ton to learn about gear, the trail, and the many experiences of other bloggers, and I’d like to put my experiences out there for other readers to enjoy and learn from. I also used to really enjoy creative writing, and I’d like to try to get back into it. In elementary and middle school English classes were all about writing stories and learning how to be a better creative writer, but high school English writing became more about being able to analyze what we had been reading, and once I started a STEM degree in college my writing became 100% analysis and no creativity. I’ve tried creative writing once or twice recently, and it is so much harder than I remember it being! My goal here isn’t to write a novel in the future, but hopefully taking the time to put down my thoughts and experiences on the AT will help me improve my skills and bring back some of my past enthusiasm for creative writing while keeping a record of my time on the trail.
The Big Three (Lists)
In mentally preparing for an AT thru most hikers eventually come across the book Appalachian Trials and learn about creating Why I’m Hiking lists that serve to focus their reasons for embarking on such a difficult endeavor and as motivation for those tough days on the trail. So without further ado, here are my lists:
I am hiking the AT because:
- I want to really challenge myself both physically and mentally to learn what I’m capable of
- Immersing myself in nature and living a simpler life for 5-6 months sounds great
- Meeting likeminded outdoorsy people and making new friends will be cool
- This will be a great opportunity for some mental reflection, who knows what I’ll learn about myself
- I want to go on an adventure!
When I finish hiking the AT I will:
- Feel strong physically and mentally, I know I’ll be capable of handling anything life throws at me
- Be very proud of myself and confident in my choices
- Have made a great group of new friends
- Have tons of memories from the hike to look back on
If I quit hiking the AT I will:
- Be disappointed in myself and my abilities
- Feel less confident in my abilities and major choices
- Be proud of myself for attempting something so difficult and going after my dream
- Have many good memories of the trail to look back on even though I didn’t finish
What even is the AT?
For anybody who’s really new here, the AT is a long distance hiking trail from Springer mountain, GA to mount Katahdin, Maine. The mileage of the trail changes a little bit every year due to reroutes, so for 2022 I’ll be trying to hike 2194.3 miles within one year to complete a thru hike. Although the trail’s maximum elevation is only 6,643 ft, the total elevation from hiking the whole trail is equivalent to summitting Mt. Everest 16 times. I’ll be carrying everything I need in my backpack, but since the AT crosses a road on average every 4 miles I’ll be making stops 3-5 days to load up on food, sleep in a real bed, and maybe even shower. In the 101 years since the trail was created thousands of people have completed thru hikes and around 2 million people step foot on some part of the trail every year. Additionally towns closest to the trail have been getting more and more involved with hikers, and there are many trail communities with unique hostels, outfitters, and restaurants in the 14 states that the AT runs through. And that’s a quick and dirty AT for Dummies.
Phew that’s the end of this post. Next up, the gear list!
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