AT Thru Hike – Dear Diary….Week 3


Dear Diary,

The reality of my AT Thru Hike is starting to settle in. I am seeing that we are not just here for a good time. It just registered to me that over the next six months, my legs will not get an extended break from walking. What!? My tent will not keep me fully dry or warm. Huh?! I will meet people on trail that aren’t my cup of tea. Hmmm! The honeymoon period is over. We are back to the 9-5 grind and my relationship with the trail is tentative.

My relationship with people on trail is also tentative. I recognize that I’m repeating a pattern of obtaining a false sense of security from others. In my off trail life, I didn’t always trust my ability to protect myself. Instead, I looked to others to fill that role, especially males. I have lived in a world where “a big, strong male will keep me safe”. Iwe lol!

I begin to realize that out here on trail, no one owes you anything. One day you could be hiking with someone and the next day, you may never see each other again. One hiker could be walking faster or slower or have a different itinerary for the day. I am out here alone.

We hike in the rain. In the heat. When we’re tired. When we’re sore.

I miss my kids, my brother, my mom, Mr. Peanut Butter and my friends. I won’t see them for a very long time.

I feel like if one thing goes wrong, I will break because I’m so close to the edge. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still enjoying it out here. But I think I have to poop…and it’s pouring. I’m trying to rest in the tent but raindrops are hitting my forehead. I’m waiting for my hiking mates to say “Ok, Stretch” which is the signal that it’s time to pack up and go. I hear the signal…it’s go time.

Hiking in the Rain

I stand in the rain and stuff my wet tent into my pack. I have no choice but to walk in the rain. Only three more miles to the shelter to dry out but still, it’s pouring.

I walk and walk with the motivating factor of a dry shelter just up ahead. As I get to the top of the mountain, my hiking partner stops me. “Look, the fog is disappearing”. As we stand on the mountain, we watch as the fog disintegrates like an optical illusion. Nature’s magic trick! I’m in awe as the skies clear and the sun begins to shine. The day has turned, my mood has turned and we happily saunter off.

My Why

The purpose of my hike on the Appalachian Trail is changing. I initially wanted to remove all distractions, such as the pressure to conform to society, seeking perfectionism, filling my life with busyness, income generation, social media influence, etc. I hoped that removing these factors would peel back layers so I could see what is truly important in my life. What would I want to leave behind and what would I want to focus on when I completed my walk?

When I began to walk, I was also hoping for a closer connection to my higher power and nature. I wanted nature and God to reveal itself and to impress me. I hoped for enlightenment from a magnificent rainbow, a heart pounding mountain top view, a burning bush.

What I See

I walk along ridges and narrow pathways winding around the mountains, I expose a pattern in nature. I walk and look down at my feet which are surrounded on both sides by a continuous scenery of weeds, grasses, budded purple, white and sometimes orange flowers. Black butterflies with light blue markings and brilliant shimmering blue hopping beetles. As I move from state to state, the natural scenery is constant and repetitive with only minor changes in the types of fauna and flora.

Nature is all around me and it doesn’t boast or seek attention. It’s not trying to impress me. It just does what nature does. The ferns, the flowers, the fiddleheads, the sassafrases, the trees.

Nature isn’t distracted by pressure to be something it’s not. It doesn’t need to be perfect. There’s a natural order, a life cycle that it follows and there’s no need to add useless tasks to that order. It doesn’t need to be anything other than what it is. I am nature

I haven’t quite figured out my higher power and how it fits in within my journey. I suppose if I continue to stay open, I will see things. Or maybe not. Maybe there’s nothing additional for me to see. Maybe it’s already within me.


As I’ve been sojourning on this trail for 16 days, I’m already finding some answers. At this junction on the trail, I believe that my life at home is complete. I have always constantly strived for better, for more, for easier and for happier. I have lived in a continuous state of FOMO. But as I walk, I’m seeing that maybe what I have now in my life is plenty. Several years ago, I read a quote that said something along the lines of…

“You’ll find enlightenment when you stop seeking enlightenment”

Hmmm. At the time, these words tugged at my spirit but my lizard brain won the battle and I dismissed the notion. Now I’m seeing that maybe there’s something to it. Maybe I have what I need and I can stop seeking.

Renewed Purpose

Emphatically, the purpose of my walk is morphing into a personal challenge testing my mental and physical abilities. My walk is causing me to believe that I can keep going, even when I’m tired. I’m being taught how to balance rest and recovery. My walk is helping me to trust that my body will not break if I push it a little more.

You’re on mile 14.5 and your knees are numb. Your ankles are sore. The bottom of your feet are in pain and then you look up and you see the prettiest little fiddlehead.



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Comments 7

  • jhonY : Apr 27th

    My kind of beloved posting. I am really liking your descriptions of nature. Very earthy and thought provoking. I am glad you are enthralled with the Great Mysterious that is mother nature, Pachamama ! How grand!

    • Stretch : May 9th

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Thanks for reading and replying!

  • YeeHa of BeeChHill Hostel : Apr 27th

    Love all three of your posts, Stretch, and we’ve had similar reactions to seeing fiddleheads (and other native mountain plants) emerging in springtime. We hope you’ll stop by BeeChHill on your way north – even if just for some well water or puppy love with Maggie. We’re just 30 yards or so from the AT, about 1.5 miles N of Daleville, VA – and maybe 100 yards S of the official “1/3 of the way to Katahdin” marker. In the meantime, we hope you continue to enjoy all that the trail has to offer. Have a good walk!

    • Stretch : May 9th

      I would love to stop by! Thanks for reading my post. Hope to see you soon. I’m currently in Hot Springs

  • Todd : Apr 29th

    Your writing style is simply eloquent. I so appreciate the thought and word choice that goes into your posts. I am rooting for the next post which implies me wanting you to succeed so I can keep on reading about your adventure.

    Maybe enlightenment involves your understanding that you really NEED to do this versus simply WANTING to.


    • Stretch : May 9th

      Thank you Todd. I really like your interpretation of enlightenment. It definitely speaks to me

  • Karen : May 14th

    I like how you described your “Why” and how it’s changing. Taking on this journey is something simply amazing. It will break you down and build you up… I don’t think it is something I could do.

    Good luck as you continue the AT


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