Four Fears on the Appalachian Trail

As trail time approaches, I’m eagerly anticipating my start date. I can’t wait to feel the breeze on my skin and the sun dance across my face as I traverse this well-worn path known as the AT. But, along with the hopes and dreams of my future on trail come a few fears. Yes, even an experienced thru hiker has fears about being on trail, but they might not be what you think.

Hiking Alone

I love hiking alone. In fact, it’s probably my favorite way to hike. Setting my own pace, I can stop for as long as I want to admire a stream, eat meals right when hunger calls, and hike for as many miles as I want. I don’t have to take into my calculus someone else’s needs or desires. It’s all about me.

This year, however, things are a little different. My hiking partner is someone that I want to hike with. Our shared experience of this trail as well as our mutual growth will have reverberations in our relationship for years to come. A thru hike is such a unique and deeply personal experience and I would love to have someone to share it with. As with a child, watching someone experience their first thru hike brings me back to my first experiences on trail.

I don’t want to lose the opportunity to share this special time because my partner can longer hike. I’m afraid of losing those potential shared memories and moments of bonding. I so desperately hope that we can complete this trail together and neither of us has to hike completely alone.

Getting Injured

Getting injured is the only way I see myself quitting my thru hike. And I’m not talking about a sprained ankle or tweaked knee. I’m talking about an injury that requires radiology, more than 2-3 weeks of healing, or major bed rest. Not only would getting an injury like that be excruciatingly painful, but I would be devastated. My dreams of completing the Appalachian Trail would be put on hold for, at best, a year and, at worst, indefinitely. I don’t want anything to come between me and my journey.

Being Anti-Social

The Appalachian Trail is known for its vibrant and welcoming community. As someone who tends to avoid large groups and who thoroughly enjoys her solitude, immersing myself in the AT social scene is going to be a test of my comfort zone. Will I rise to challenge and open myself up to new people or will I give into the ease of sticking to myself? I fear that if I give into my natural introverted tendencies, I will miss out on some truly magical experiences.

On this trail, I’m going to challenge myself to be out there among people, meet new faces, and make new friends. I want to have the fullest AT experience and I truly believe that people are at the heart of that. And that’s not to say that I have to go to every party or stay up until 2am chatting the night away. But, I do need to put myself out there and say ‘hi.’

The Half-Gallon Challenge

Yes, you read that right. I’m afraid of the half-gallon challenge. Why would I be scared of ice cream at the halfway point of the AT? Well, I’m lactose intolerant. The after effects of that much ice cream on my sensitive digestive system does not sound like a pleasant time on trail. That being said, I think this is a fear I will give into. Unless there’s a dairy-free option, the half-gallon challenge has me quaking in my trail runners and fleeing in the opposite direction.


While most people fear bears, murderers, and getting lost on the AT, these are the things that I fear. A successful thru hike with memories of friends, strength, beautiful vistas, and serendipitous generosity is what I desire the most. I fear anything that threatens that. However, part of embracing a trail experience is letting go of expectations and accepting what comes. So here’s to accepting my next 6 months on the AT in whichever form it comes. Can’t wait to see you out there!

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Comments 6

  • Beth Malchus Stafa : Mar 31st

    You could have our luck on the half gallon or in our case 2 quart challenge… there was electrical problems. 🙂 Enjoy the trail and create your own challenges. Ours was bakery and coffee shop challenges. You will do great.

  • St John : Mar 31st

    Ice cream doesn’t come in half-gallon containers any more. It will be less ice cream, if that helps.😁

  • MATT ARMSTRONG : Mar 31st

    A very well written, entertaining and informative post!

  • David Firari : Mar 31st

    In lieu of the half gallon challenge, you can certainly attempt to eat two of their hamburgers. They are massive.

    Best of luck on your adventure! Sounds like you’re ready.

    -Good Soup AT ’23

  • Gary B Stanfield Jr : Mar 31st

    I wished I was physically fit to do this amazing journey! Sounds absolutely amazing! Maybe be on my bucket list!

  • Brian Heise : Apr 1st

    Asocial is avoiding others. Antisocial is a pwrsonality disorder associated with rules breaking and drug abuse.


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