Class of 2017, Get Ready For A Wild Hike!
Class of 2017, it’s hard to believe that in just a few short months your class will be embarking on a journey of a lifetime.
As I rewind back to this time last year, I remember the deep anticipation running throughout my entire body……I wasn’t quite ready to make it public that i’d be setting out on a thru-hike, but I could hardly contain my excitement. I wanted to shout it off roof tops and tell anyone who would listen. Strangers became my best audience to share my dream with, as they rarely were skeptical if I could accomplish a 2189.1 mile hike. Don’t be discouraged if your friends or acquaintances doubt your ability to complete this endeavor, let it fuel your fire to Katahdin (at least that’s what I did). I recall the countless hours that I spent researching the Appalachian Trail. Many mornings I was up until the sun arose reading blog after blog, advice after advice, and comparing the abundance of gear options. I have to be honest, it’s all a bit overwhelming………..especially if this is your first backpacking trip or real hike in general. Take a deep breath. You’ll learn shortly after being on the trail, what worked for me probably isn’t going to work for you. There’s no universal option that fits everyone’s needs. That’s just how it goes………find what you love and get that. Following your heart’s desire is everything.
Like I was saying, I tried to read as much as I could about this trail in the months leading up to my start date. Where I’m from there are no mountains, hardly even hills, so I thought becoming as prepared as I could via information online/books would be my best approach for preparation, but honestly nothing will quite prepare you for this trip other than actually being out there and experiencing it. Take a deep breath. You’re going be just fine.
The days will seem like they pass slowly, but suddenly you’ll find yourself with only a week left in the world as you know it. You’ll probably be freaking out as you are unsure if you’re prepared enough or not. I know I could hardly sleep at night and I had that same feeling I’d get right before 400M race at a track meet anytime I thought about takeoff.
If you’re setting out on a thru-hike this upcoming Spring, please know that I am so excited for you. You’re in for an amazing adventure. I only want to leave you with two pieces of advice (because if you’re committed to a thru-hike, you’re already pretty badass).
1. The word to remember is EMBRACE. It’s a whole different world in those Appalachian Mountains. You’ll find yourself pond side drinking scotch with three gentleman 65+ until all hours of the morning. You’ll encounter some goofy and strange characters. You’ll talk with people that will impact your perception of life. And you’ll be humbled far too many times to count. Embrace every situation and person you meet out there–no matter how different or unusual things can be, no one is ordinary………remember everyone has something amazing to offer.
2. Don’t dread the tough days. This is something that I probably did too much of toward the end of my hike. You’ll cross paths with people who will tell you how difficult of a day you have ahead, or you’ll look at your AWOL guide elevation details religiously with anticipation for the upcoming climb(s). Don’t spend your time dreading them because I’m going to fill you in on a secret. You’re going to make it to the top of them, you always do and it’s never as tough as anyone builds them up to be. Hold your head high and power over those freaking mountains–after all, you earn those views.
So stand tall, strap your pack on tight, and enjoy the wild hike………..because if you let it, this trail has the ability to change your life.
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