Another Blogger Joins the Roster

Hello, Trekkers! 

I’m absolutely ecstatic to be among this year’s class of Appalachian Trail bloggers. I know that reading trail logs (particularly on The Trek) was beyond helpful for me when thinking about (and eventually planning) my own thru-hike, and I’m delighted to be able to share the many thoughts and experiences I’m bound to have in the months ahead.

Who am I, Anyway?

My name is Jasper (no trail name yet, though I hope to find one), and I’m a late-20-something from Massachusetts. In the non-pandemic-y times, I was a ‘multi-hyphenate’ theater artist with a not-so-hidden love of hiking, camping, and the outdoors. With theater still suffering the effects of the pandemic (and the threat of new variants like Omicron making the immediate future uncertain), I’m embarking on a journey I did not expect to have but often dreamed about.

On February 24th I will begin the adventure at the Amicalola Falls approach trail, and I hope that this blog will allow me to bring you along for the many ups and downs that lie before me. (Yes, that’s a little ‘equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest 16 times’ humor for you, there.)

Hiking with the dog at Crabtree Falls, NC.

The Background

Growing up about an hour away from the AT, I feel as though I always knew of its existence to some degree. For most of my childhood and teen years (until it’s unfortunate closure in 2009) I attended a small overnight camp for a couple of weeks every summer, and I can still recall some of the very cool, outdoorsy counselors talking about the Appalachian Trail here and there. It became something I had a peripheral awareness of, but had little understanding as to its true magnitude.

Years later, when working in New Hampshire as a camp counselor myself, the AT creeped its way back into my mind– A coworker on staff had done a section hike before arriving for the season, another co-worker’s friend had thru-hiked the summer prior. It felt as though everyone had (or knew someone who had) a connection to the trail–  I began to read and learn more about it, and eventually hiked a few short sections on my own.

At the time, thru-hiking as a goal didn’t seem like a practical option for me for a number of reasons. Time passed by, life shifted underneath me, and I placed my interest in long-distance backpacking squarely in the mental realm of ‘impossible’.

So How is this Happening?

Fast forward to 2020.

During the first year of the pandemic, my partner and I spent large swaths of time traveling between Massachusetts and Virginia to live with and assist his elderly parents. Driving along the edge of northern Appalachia and the Blue Ridge Mountains had me thinking (and talking) about the Appalachian Trail once again.

One day (following another one of my AT-blathering episodes) he looked at me and very simply asked “So… Why don’t you just… Do this?”

It’s with his encouragement, patience, and assistance that this idea became a reality and a plan. 

I’m lucky to say that I also have an incredibly supportive network of family and friends (and even friends-of-friends!) who are cheering me on.

Cheesin’ next to one of the AT mileage signs at Newfound Gap, GSMNP.

The Preparation

This summer and fall I had the opportunity to use a few trips as shakedowns: One weekend spent at a few campsites down in North Carolina, another exploring in the Smokies, and a third spent on the AT/Long Trail in Vermont. (The next time I see Clingman’s Dome/GSMNP or the fire tower on Stratton Mountain, it’ll be as a thru-hiker. Surreal.)

I’ve also joined my local chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club and dove right in. I’ve worked on a couple of trail crews on the AT boundary here in MA and helped make accessibility improvements on the New England Trail, as well as an overnight backpacking excursion. (Which taught me that my 20-degree bag absolutely needed to be swapped out for a 0-degree before I head out… That was a chilly, unexpected 28-degree autumn night.)

I’m hoping to get in at least one more overnight shakedown before my departure, but for the most part my training this last year has consisted of hiking, hiking, and more hiking. (With a little bit of yoga/stretching and strength training mixed in.) Longer day hikes by myself, shorter ones with friends. Always with my pack, some gear, and a couple of 5-pound weights thrown in for good measure.

In Conclusion

Thank you to Zach and The Trek for providing me this space to share my journey on-trail. I hope you’ll follow my little winter-start adventure, and I’m excited to share with you some bits and pieces along the way.

Stay tuned for more posts about gear, prep, and on-trail goodness.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 23

  • Miranda Turner : Jan 19th

    I’m a big fan of theatre too (mostly the musical variety lol). I’ll be heading out a couple days after you, can’t wait to meet you out there!

    Reply
    • Jasper B. : Jan 19th

      Hey Miranda, that’s so cool! I haven’t done much musical theater myself, but it’s certainly something I love to be in the audience for. 😀

      I just read your Hiker Intro yesterday, and I’m sure with our departure dates being so close to one another, we’re bound to cross paths often— I look forward to meeting you too!

      Reply
  • pearwood : Jan 19th

    Hello, Jasper!
    See you on the trail. I’m starting February 1 and not setting any speed records.
    Steve / pearwood

    Reply
    • Jasper B. : Jan 19th

      Hi there, Steve!

      Good luck with your chilly start to the trail! I’ll be keeping an eye out for you, and hope to make your acquaintance at some point along our way.

      Reply
    • Shelly : Jan 20th

      Hello!
      My son and I are excited to read about your journey! We are planning a 2023 thru hike together!!
      May you have a wonderful adventure!! And lots of trail magic and trail angel’s!!!

      Reply
      • Jasper B. : Jan 21st

        Hi Shelly!

        It is so wonderful that you and your son are planning a thru—It’ll be here before you know it! Thank you so much for your interest, and all of the kind wishes. 🙂

        Reply
  • Steve Zajchowski : Jan 19th

    As Jaspers Uncle I am so proud of her taking on this trek. Good luck Jasper, will have you in thoughts as you undertake this dream and looking forward to reading all about your Adventure on the trails. Love lots!!

    Reply
    • Jasper B. : Jan 19th

      Thank you, Uncle Steve— Lots of love to you too!

      Reply
  • Daniel Zajchowski : Jan 19th

    Grandpa sending nothing but well wishes for a safe and thrilling venture. I’d have thought you might have liked to do the AT with your Grandpa, but you didn’t ask. Love ya bunches. Make sure you let us know when you’ll be crossing over the Mass Pike so we can get to see you.

    Reply
    • Jasper B. : Jan 19th

      Hi Grandpa!

      I would have invited you to join me, but I assumed you’d just leave me in the dust. Love you too, and I’ll be sure to let everyone back home know when I’m passing through. 🙂

      Reply
  • CJZ : Jan 20th

    Can’t wait to live vicariously through your posts! I could NEVER do what you are about to! First night sleeping outdoors without an RV would be my last, never mind using nature’s “facilities”!

    Reply
    • Jasper B. : Jan 20th

      I hope you enjoy the vicarious “roughin’ it” from the comfort (and facilities…) of home!

      Reply
  • Chris : Jan 20th

    Very excited for your journey and to follow along as you make your trek. Can’t wait for your adventure to begin. All the best!

    Reply
    • Jasper B. : Jan 20th

      Thank you! The adventure is coming on quickly— with seemingly infinite things to do to get ready between now and then!

      Reply
  • Goonpa : Jan 21st

    Jasper,

    You will be a couple of weeks ahead of me ( I am starting on March 14th).

    I am also blogging for The Trek.

    I hope you have a great hike!

    Reply
    • Jasper B. : Jan 21st

      Hey Goonpa!

      I certainly err on the side of “slow and steady” (as far as hikers go!), so there’s certainly a chance we’ll see each other along the way.

      Wishing you a great hike as well! 👍

      Reply
      • Walt Y : Jan 21st

        ‘Slow and Steady?’

        Sure, sure, slow and steady for the day…

        But when actually hiking? Jasper is so fast – those leggies just churn churn

        (I may be out of shape and not a good reference point)

        Reply
  • Emmi E : Jan 22nd

    I will be rooting for you on your adventure! I’m so glad that I can follow along with these blog posts 🙂

    Reply
    • Jasper : Jan 22nd

      Yay! Thank you so much, Emmi! 🙂

      Reply
  • Chris Zajchowski : Jan 23rd

    So excited for you, Jasper! Give us a shout when you’re headed into Virginia. I’d love to help with a re-supply or join you for a day. Happy planning!

    Reply

What Do You Think?