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.

Happy hiking

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 10

  • Cherre Bybee : Oct 26th

    Shotgun, thank you, I needed to hear this. I will print this and read it again and again when I’m feeling overwhelmed with the prep. CeeBee

  • Dale Owens : Oct 27th

    Shotgun, I stood on Katahdin two weeks ago and your article resonated with my experiences in so many ways

    Well done

  • Vicki : Oct 27th

    Thank you so much Shotgun, starting NOBO in April 2017 from Rock Fish Gap, right now I am beside myself, my pack is ready just waiting for April..To say the least I am excited.. Country girl

  • kestrelchick : Oct 27th

    thank you SO MUCH for this – knowing that our start date is just a few months away I have found myself worrying if I have planned enough, researched enough and then I have to stop myself and focus on why this has been a dream of mine for 20 years. This post was just what I needed

  • Gary Stell : Oct 28th

    Thank you! As I look forward to April and my start date I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone! I’ll be 67 when I step on the AT for the first time and I’m so excited it’s often a surrealistic dream I’m going through. So looking forward to the adventure! To all the other 07′ Thru Hikers! Vaya Con Dios!

  • Gary : Oct 30th

    Great words of wisdom. AT2017 NoBo March 13th.

  • JennJo : Nov 1st

    Thanks so much for the honest advice!! I am sooo excited, looking forward to NOBO thru-hike 2017!!!, while not wasting away the days in-between I am hiking at least every week and getting a feel for my gear and weight, I am obsessed and in love with my journey and can only imagine how the trail will feel! You rock!! Congrats on your thru-hike & your continued journey of life!!

  • John L : Nov 9th

    SOBO flip flop starting 3/1/17 @HF WVA Turning 66 on the trail. Thanks! Lawnchair

  • David Stasiak : Dec 14th

    This is the best piece I’ve read on this website so far. Embracing everything about the AT puts me in the best mood.

  • Lauren : Dec 17th

    Hi Aundrea! Thanks so much for your post! It’s definitely nice to find something directed towards future thru-jokers, because boy do we need the encouragement! Looking forward to taking that first step on the A.T. in March 2017. Great post! Thanks again!


What Do You Think?