Birthing an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Dream

Birthing an Appalachian Trail thru-hike? In my lifetime, I discovered that the act of fulfilling a dream was fraught with painful sacrifices and difficult choices. To pick one dream to fulfill is like placing a foot upon a personally chosen path; forsaking, sacrificing, and leaving behind other ambitions, people, environments, experiences, and relationships. Today I sobbingly paused in my driveway and examined my own painful sacrifices being made to enable my approaching thru-hike attempt. Shedding pounds from a pack is not the only “shedding” aspirant thru-hikers experience. We all cast aside prized possessions, clingy emotions, and relied-upon relationships to take on the minimalist ways of a thru-hiker. We all leave things behind to find something special in a new goal, trail, job, or relationship.

Today when I closed the door to my car and watched my husband washing his car in the chilly December air, he sideways glanced in my direction. “You OK?”


“What’s wrong?” More tire scrubbing.

“What in the hell am I doing?” My head hung as limp as my reusable shopping bags from my hands.

The soapy sponge plopped into the orange bucket. “What do you mean?”

“The trail! What if this is lunacy and I need to get my head checked?”

I began to rattle off the things I was giving up on Feb. 10, 2019. The date of my faraway AT thru-hike did what time does so well: creep and pounce upon my psyche. He gave me a knowing glance because the day had arrived; I was giving my precious parrot to a new home, to pursue my life change. Parrots need a ton of attention and daily interaction or become very sick, pluck their own feathers until bald, and frequently die of loneliness. It takes months or years to gain a parrot’s trust and love and I was about to selfishly shatter her heart. I knew she was going to an excellent home with women who took the last three months to get to know my bird baby. But the lump in my throat felt like cancer in my heart. I could very well be breaking a bird. Was it worth it? Was any of my sacrifices worth walking 2,190 miles back home to Maine?

“But, my kids… I am leaving them for six months.”

“They are adults, Shell.”

“So. What mother leaves her family?”

He started to spray down his car and shrugged his shoulders. “The driven woman I married who has been wasting away taking care of others.”

“You are just saying that because of all of the money I spent and the hours creating some YouTube channel.” The logo of the orange juice lid was seared into my brain because I could not look up.

I heard more plops of water on a hollow, metal hood. “How many people have you heard from telling you about the inspiration and courage you are giving them?”

“Not fair.”

“Change one life, Shell. Change our kids’ lives. Maybe someday when they are ready to quit chasing dreams at the age of 44, they can smarten the hell up and remember what their mother accomplished on the AT.”

I looked up from the orange juice to see my husband of 20 years look at me with tears in his own eyes. “Low blow, mister.”

“You can’t quit now.” He twisted the hose nozzle to shut off the flow of water.

“Says who?”

“Babe, you are already gone. You need this more than we need you.”

Birthing an Appalachian Trail Dream Requires Emotional Dieting

We live large lives, continuously accumulating material possessions and imprinting the earth everywhere we roam. When we live to leave lasting imprints by examples, encouragement, openness, positivism, and with love, can we live more simple lives filled with big impacts. You might be a student leaving behind a mountain of student loan debt and unforgiving parents to chase a dream on the trail. You might be a beautiful creature struggling with their sexuality, or a senior grasping for one more adventure before twilight calls you home. But you will leave people who will one day painfully birth their own dreams because of your incredible courage. It sucks going on a diet, but sometimes one must go on an emotional diet before changing one’s life.

Appalachian trail 2019

As I always close my videos, never fear, dear reader. See you on the trail.

Link to more blogs. For more about my Appalachian Trail 2019 hiking vlog, here is a taste of the content. I am honored to have you follow me on The Trek as I blog in conjunction with the 2019 Appalachian Trail thru-hike videos. Merry Christmas, hikers!

Winter hiking on the Appalachian Trail Part 1


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Comments 8

  • Ricky Beam : Dec 15th

    The adventure of a lifetime awaits you if you have the courage to take the first step.

  • Disgraced Housewife : Dec 16th

    I read today’s post first and figured you were in for a big shock when you begin your hike.

    I was wrong. Going back and reading your previous post’ set me straight. You have all the right moves and fortitude to fulfill your dream.

    Best wishes!

    • Michele "Artemis" Rosa : Dec 17th

      Thank you so much!!

      • Heather : Dec 20th

        3yrs ago while recovery from surgery I became obsessed with planning a through hike of the AT. But at the moment I have 2 kids that require all my attention. Sometimes I start to think that I will never get there. Stories like yours give me hope that it will come I just need to be patient. Thank you for sharing your story I can’t wait to follow along when you get started.

  • Carol Haley : Dec 16th

    Plodding Bison, class of 2016 “epic fail” hiker. I’ve been back 3 additional times. Going again in April 2019 to FINALLY get it out of my system. I’m 63 now…it’s gotta happen this time!

    “Hike your own hike” sounds trite, but OWN that phrase. Follow your own pace and do what works for you. You will learn even more the longer you hike. Pick up tips from other hikers, but stay on your own gameplan. You’ll be lucky to find a few people that are your pace, but don’t try and keep up with bubbles.

    You can do this!!!! Gooooo

    • Michele "Artemis" Rosa : Dec 17th

      Thank you for the encouragement! WE can do this!! I hope to see you out there!

  • Cindy Yungwirth : Dec 17th

    This was a wonderful article….I’ve been “in labor” with my own birth of a dream for several years now…always something “more important” seemed to take precidence. It was your husband’s words, “The driven woman I married who has been wasting away taking care of others,” that shattered me. This is so something I need to do. It won’t be this coming year but most definitely 2020 – an auspicious year if anything else. Good luck to you as you go forth and achieve your dream.

    • Michele "Artemis" Rosa : Dec 17th

      Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment! Words like your keep me going and I have printed all of these messages to read when times get hard. Stay in touch and in 2020 email me and I get get your from the airport to Springer. I live incredibly close. You can do it!


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