Confessions of a Soon-to-be SOBO Thru-Hiker

Who am I?

I hate introductions so I’ll make this short. I’m Amie, 27 years old and originally from Kent in the United Kingdom – that’s right, I’ve been assigned by dear Lizzy to take back the colonies one state at a time! I’ll be starting my SOBO thru-hike on July 9.

Why Am I Hiking the AT?

1. Why not? Haven’t you heard it’s the hip thing to do?

2. Bill Bryson. Please tell me you’ve read his book, “A Walk in the Woods?” If you sat there shaking your head you need to go ahead and put that on the top of your to-do list. The movie too. You won’t be disappointed.

3.  And that was the last time anybody saw her. Ninety percent of people laugh, comment, or look concerned when I tell them I’m hiking the AT. They think I’m destined for failure. They’re not alone, either, because I think that too. But that’s all the more reason to do it. I’ll go find a salon somewhere on the bad days when I’m close to quitting. There’s nothing quite like a mani and pedi to put the cheer back in you. Shhh, hush now – don’t go and burst my bubble… just let me think this is possible. Can you tell my love for the great outdoors is a recent thing?

4.  I’m a real-life Bridget Jones. I ran to the Middle East after a breakup, clueless to the curse that had been placed upon me at birth. Thanks, mum! I lost a little bit more of myself with every failed relationship. My self-confidence and ambition to do anything was crushed with the words of an onion. Yes, I said onion – have you seen that video of that little girl who compares boys to onions because they make you cry? It’s hilarious. Anyway, as a distraction I turned to travel and things started looking up. Adventure was my healer. I learned that I was capable of doing things completely out of my comfort zone – even if I cried and was pushed in the process. Baby steps. There’s still a part of me that feels lost, and I’m not entirely sure why, but things have been better lately. The curse is breaking, I think – but you can’t have the details because I don’t want to jinx it. I’ve always thought the trail would be.. you ready for that old cliche? One big journey of self-discovery. A place where I could restore that lost self-confidence, and a place where I could realize that I’m capable of far more than I thought possible. A place where I could become fully independent and happy with myself. We shall see!

5. Kate.  Kate was 29 when she suddenly passed away. It made me realize that life isn’t fair, can be cruel, and is just too short not to do the things you want to. The AT has been on my tra(vel)(buc)ket list for a few years now. She’d supported my crazy thru-hiking fairy tale despite everybody else thinking I’d lost my marbles. It’s now or never!

6. Bears! I’m joking. They might be terrifyingly cute but I’m not stupid. I won’t be sad if I don’t see one.

Top Five Worries

1. Bears. Those big, fluffy cuddle monsters are top of the list. I wasn’t worried about them until a few weeks ago. You’ve heard of the infamous bear survival tip: Find someone fatter or slower than you. Right? Well, I had one better – I had my dad. He’d either jump in front of his precious daughter to save her from a tragic mauling, or I’d push him in the path of a ravenous beast because he’d upset me that day. The latter being more probable. I jest, of course. Who wouldn’t feel a lot safer with their dad? Sadly, I’m a lone wolf now.

2. Mosquitoes.  They love me. Unfortunately for me, it’s the unconditional kind too. Buggers.

3. Getting lost.  Have you ever ended up on the other side of an island when you were just two minutes from reaching your destination because you can’t follow a sat nav? Yep, I’ve got my hands up over here. I’m guilty. I know what you’re thinking, that 90 percent of people who don’t think I can pull this off probably have reason to think so… but, Google Maps. Google wanted me to turn onto roads that were dead ends, no entryies or just plain old dirt lots with no road in sight. Wasn’t my fault. I’ll have maps and a compass, and I’m toying with Guthook’s AT app, so I’m sure that between both of those and the blazes I won’t wander off too far into unknown territory. Gonna get myself a Garmin satellite messenger too. I’ve got a person who’s going to keep tabs on my whereabouts and call me stupid if I walk in the opposite direction. Handy, right?

4. Water. My name is Amie and I’m a Coke addict. Admitting is the first step in the recovery process, isn’t it? I’m not sure I hate anything more than water. Actually, there’s ham but we won’t get into that. How on earth will I cope with water as a replacement? Nice, bug-ridden, germ-infested water. The adjustment will be hard, but on the upside it’ll probably do wonders for my skin. Swings and roundabouts.

5. Makeup. You might laugh, but have you ever faced the brutality of a seven-year-old? “Miss, are you sick? Miss, what’s wrong with your face? Miss, you looked better when your lips were red. Miss, you have makeup on, you look soooooo pretty today.” I love the little munchkins but they don’t do anything for self-confidence, other than destroy it. Anyone who knows me knows I love my makeup. Now, I can’t contour or do any of that fancy stuff, but I like my face with the war paint on. It’s not a vanity thing, it’s a safety blanket thing. Especially when I throw up my hair in a bun, or leave it to dry a frizzy mess. Now I’ve got to have rubbish hair and a rubbish face for the next six months – Instagram is going to have a lot of back to camera selfies!

Am I Crazy?

Perhaps. Most probably. Aren’t we all? I mean, I’m a girl who hates the cold, despises bugs and anything that crawls, jumps out of her skin over the silliest of things, loves makeup, long soaks in the bath, and toilets that flush – but I’m also a girl with something to prove.  And hey, if I can somehow pull this off – anybody can!

That’s a wrap for now folks. Stay tuned for my next post.

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Comments 17

  • Avatar
    Stan : Jun 25th

    Good luck on your attempt. Tried twice earlier this year and finally realized that I could do it physically but wasn’t prepared mentally. Being wet for days on end was demoralizing.

    But I did learn some things that may help you. Guthooks is great even when you don’t have cell phone coverage. BTW, there are places along the trail that don’t have cell coverage. You didn’t mention anything about water filtration but please consider it. Getting the trots on the trail is no fun! Consider getting your hair cut short. It’ll be easier to maintain (wash and dry, and look for ticks).

    Good luck and start slow. Even though you are young, keep your mileage around 10/day for about 2 weeks till you get the kinks worked out.

    Don’t think of quitting on a bad day. Take a zero or two before you do anything rash. It’s not a race.

    Welcome to the US and enjoy your walk in the woods.

    Stan

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Amie Spring : Jun 28th

      Hi Stan – thank you for you kind words and advice!

      On the water filtration front, I have a sawyer filter set and a life straw – I appreciate the concern though.

      Start slow is the advice I’ve gotten from everyone I’ve spoken to and you’re all right. The last thing I want to do is risk an injury because I’m pushing myself too hard. I’m already completely out of my comfort zone so starting slow will help with adjusting.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Capt. Norm : Jun 25th

    Good luck and the advice from Stan is spot on!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Amie Spring : Jun 28th

      Thank you 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Vince Piquet : Jun 25th

    Did ME, NH, and VT last year. Getting ready to continue on. Enjoy your journey. Fair winds and following seas.
    Vince aka The Dude, SOBO, 17’/18′
    PS Love your sense of humor.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Amie Spring : Jun 28th

      Thank you Vince, or should I call you The Dude? I can’t wait to hear the stories behind trail names out there. That’s awesome, enjoy the rest of your journey!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Captain Kirk : Jun 25th

    Spring!

    Just learn how to french braid (most girls seem to just know this but I can’t do it to save my life). Dye your eyebrows and get your eyelashes tinted black, lasts a few weeks at least.

    My best holiday buddy, I’m very proud of you! Look after yourself (I don’t think you’re big enough to interest the bears tbh) and keep in touch.

    Think of the post-hike holidays we could have on the beaaaach, maybe even with a Bintang or 5.

    Much love

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Amie Spring : Jun 28th

      Eyelash tint? Genius. Why didn’t I think of that?

      Bintang and beaches – this is how I’m going to convince myself to carry on!

      Loves <3

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Rich : Jun 25th

    My favorite book is the Bare Foot Sister’s Southbound so I guess I have to watch your blog. Have a safe and successful trip

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Amie Spring : Jun 28th

      Funny you mention the Barefoot Sister’s, I saw a post mentioning them the other day. Sadly this is the first time I’ve heard of them, though I just looked up their book – definitely buying this. I think I’ll save it for the trail.

      Thanks for the material and well wishes!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Kernel 99 : Jun 25th

    I shared that fear of bears, until i saw one, and sure enough, it took off in the other direction. Except that one in Massachusetts that slowly wandered past us yelling, clapping & barking hikers (my dog was along); stuck its nose into a tent and ambled off with a hiker’s food bag.

    I found that dealing with problems wasn’t so bad, but when several problems stack up, it takes some mental fortitude to see through it. In the end, for me, continuing to walk was much preferable to returning to ‘reality.’

    Lastly, Bryson’s book should be subtitled “How not to Hike the Appalachian Trail.”

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Oliver : Jun 27th

    What are you doing about VISAs? You can only stay in the US for 3 months under the visa waiver programme. Have you gotten a longer visa approved – which is still only 6 months sadly?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Amie Spring : Jun 28th

      Hi Oliver – I applied for and got a 6 month visa. I know 6 months is very ambitious, especially for someone like me, but I’m going to give it my best shot regardless. If I don’t finish, I’ll just come back and do the rest.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Jenna Boucher : Jun 27th

    I think I just read an article about myself!! I cannot wait to follow your adventures!!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Amie Spring : Jun 28th

      Awh, I’m glad I’m not alone! Awesome – hopefully I’ll have plenty of posts and pictures to keep you entertained!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Violet B 2013 : Jun 27th

    Oy

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Moncur : Jul 1st

    You can do this! Remember what ever you achieve is an achievement in itself, no negative Nacey on this trip Springle.

    The semi permanent makeup is a good shout (Kirk) and if not a baseball cap with do wonders at hiding what you don’t want seen. Invest in some lemon grass essential oil that will help keep the mosquitoes away.

    My encounters with bears in the (PNW) they don’t want anything to do with us, just leave their berries and you’re good. The mooses on the other hand…just like to get in your way and scare 8 year olds for life!

    Have the best time, we are cheering you on from back home, your homeland…have the best time in my homeland! Xx

    Reply

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