Prepping for an AT Thru Hike

*First, I give you a disclaimer…

This is not intended to be a “how-to” blog post but rather, a reflection on what would prompt a person to walk away from their comfortable life and choose to walk 2197.4 miles down a path (or up a path for this NOBO).

Why I hike?

I’m hiking to discover how I want to LIVE. I want to remove the distractions of life (peer pressure, societal norms, social media influence, busy-ness) so I can see who I am without these things. I want to strip away my persona, the desire to please others/belong and the expectations I put on myself.

Additionally, I have a desire to connect and rely on nature, community and the provisions of the universe. I’m excited to see how I overcome challenges, fears and insecurities on the trail.

Who is this excited thru hiker, anyway?

Trail name: Stretch

Residence: A van. Mostly somewhere in NJ (dirty jerz!)

Likes: The golden glow of the setting sun on the trees, a hot brownie sundae, the most honest part of humans, mistakes, a gut wrenching/tearful belly laugh, rainbows and puppies (exactly in that order)

Dislikes: Merging onto any road in NJ, unpredictable blueberries, people with ill intent, wet feet (uh oh…), crying babies

Sum me up in one song:  “Kill the Lights” by Alex Newell, DJ Cassidy, and Jess Glynne

Prepping  for my thru hike:

Step 1:

I recently  sold/gave away most of my belongings and moved into a camper van with my 12 year old son, Kai, and our dog, Mr. Peanut Butter. My son will be joining me on trail during the summer.

Step 2:

  • Refresh existing gear
  • Buy new gear for my son
  • Commit to not obsess over gear/overthink everything
  • Obsess over gear/overthink everything

Step 3:

Book flight. Hope to get a ride to the start of the trail.

Step 4:

  • Tell family, friends and clients with the expectation that they will be disappointed…
  • Be pleasantly surprised that they are curious, excited, supportive and also – terrified

Step 5 thru 2,197.4:

Walk. North. Sometimes ford rivers, sometimes climb things. Sleep. Eat. Cry. Curse. Laugh. Doubt. Revel. Pray. Walk…North

The final decision making moment:

I chose to do it now because I understand the fragility of life and how quickly it can be taken from us. I have never operated with a “wait” or “plan” mentality. We didn’t plan that my dad would be suddenly taken from his earthly body at the age of 65. We didn’t plan that my brother would battle brain cancer at the age of 14 only to have to fight it again 33 years later. So, planning and waiting aren’t really high on my top 10 list of fav vocabulary words.

Finally, the answer to the most popular question…

I’m looking forward to getting on trail to meet like minded people. I hope to evolve and come back with a renewed purpose and passion for life.

I hope to provoke others to examine their lives and encourage them to follow their path to joy. We sometimes avoid taking leaps and being adventurous because we are fearful. I hope that my journey can show others that it’s ok to take action regardless of certainty, the “right timing” or desired outcome.

Optional take away…

We can take risks and if we fail, that doesn’t make us failures. Instead of saying that if things don’t work out, there are learning opportunities, we can BELIEVE that “if things don’t work out, there are other possibilities!”

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Comments 1

  • Soren Lund : Apr 12th

    Hi Erica.

    So excited for you and looking forward to live vicariously through your tales from the trail.

    Happy trails – enjoy!



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