Getting My Head into the Game

Okay…if you’re reading all the wonderful posts on the Appalachian Trials website, you’ve gotten some idea of what it takes to prepare yourself for the physical aspects of a multi-day hike on the A.T.  Although honestly, I don’t think you can truly understand the challenges your body will face until you’re actually out there on the trail.  But please….pay attention to what each author has to say about the day-to-day struggles so at least none of it will come as a big surprise to you!

Before I attempted my first 4 day section hike on the A.T., I’d already read so many great stories written by several thru hikers.  Then one day I came across a tale of a different kind:


(Disclaimer: Zach did not ask me to do this!)

I zipped through Zach’s book in no time and have read parts of it several times since but it’s only been recently (I’ve often wondered if I should really try a thru hike…I go through this thought process fairly often, by the way ) that I’ve decided it’s time to give some serious thought to the questions he presents.  So, once again, I opened up the book and started from the beginning, making my lists. Deciding to try a thru hike could be backed by some pretty personal reasons so I thought I’d offer a glimpse into some of mine.


  1. I have a lot of grief and loss that I need to work through.
  2. I have lost myself within that grief and loss.
  3. I’ve never really known what my path in life is…so it might as well be dirt for a few months.
  4. I have the tendency to doubt my abilities and second-guess myself and want to learn without a doubt just what I’m capable of doing.
  5. I’d be one bad-ass chick when I got home (cause not just anyone can walk 2189 miles uphill both ways!)

Being a seasoned section hiker and judging from what little I’ve seen up to this point, those awe-inspiring moments when you finally reach the top and can see for miles make “embracing the suck” (aka being tired, wet, cold and hungry all at the same time) worth it!  I’ve said before that nothing I experience in my day-to-day life compares to, or gives me, the sense of accomplishment (and yes, that “I’m a bit of a bad-ass chick” feeling I mentioned above) than arriving at my destination, wrapping up one of my section hikes.


Whenever I hear the quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go,” by John Muir, I also hear this little voice that keeps pushing me to give it a try.  I suppose only time will tell and until my epiphany arrives (if it ever does), I’ll keep on heading North one section at a time, with my Trail Snails (as we like to call ourselves thanks to our slow pace) motto on replay in my head:  Georgia to Maine, one step at a time!

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Comments 8

  • Gabe Burkhardt : Apr 15th

    Wow! This post really resonated with me. Although I won’t be able to make the same “bad-ass chick” claims you have earned, hopefully I’ll earn a similar sense of satisfaction on my upcoming thru-hike.

    • Dreamer : Apr 26th

      Hi Gabe;
      I have no doubt that you’ll be pretty “bad-ass” when you finish your thru hike! Best of luck to you (and keep in touch cause I’d love to hear all about your hike!).

  • Lyna : Apr 26th

    I have been reading blogs and am so excited to do my first section hike. I also live in Florida and my responsibilities won’t allow me to be gone long enough to thru hike so section hiking it is! I am in the research and “preparation” faze so I look forward to following your blog!

    • Dreamer : Apr 26th

      Hi Lyna;
      I love to hear about other hikers adventures so please keep me posted on yours! I completely enjoy my section hikes and plan to keep on heading North, one section at a time, until I can break away (and get the guts) to finish it up! Best of luck to you! Happy Hiking!

  • Pam : Apr 27th

    I also live in Florida. I did the approach trail to Springer over my spring break (I am a teacher). I have been hiking with my 30 pound pack on every Sunday and also run and swim the rest of the week. My goal is to go back and begin at Springer and hike to the NC border the end of June after school is out. I have become absolutely fixated on one day completing the entire trail. Although I have completed many half marathons and a full marathon…at age 59 I wonder how I will do. Any thoughts?

    • Dreamer : Apr 27th

      Hi Pam;
      I have absolutely no doubt that you’re going to do amazingly well on your upcoming section hike. So, are you planning to hike from Springer to the GA/NC border or are you going to Fontana Dam and the southern boundary of the Smokies? With all the training you’ve been doing, I know you’ll find it much easier (with “easier” being a relative term) to reach your goal. Up until my last section hike (from Burningtown Gap to the southern boundary of the Smokies), I honestly didn’t do much to prepare. Last year, however, I started going to the gym and simply walking a lot on the treadmill where I was able to up the percent of grade, getting as close to what hiking in the mountains is really like as I felt I could seeing as how I live here in Florida. My legs were stronger from the start, which was a huge morale boost. What I’ve found is that it’s roughly 20% getting your hiking legs and 80% getting your hiking mindset. There were times when I was literally talking myself into simply putting one foot in front of the other so I could make it to camp. But, I did it and, in my opinion, that’s what counts. Above all else, take time to enjoy yourself while you’re out there. I’m sure you’ll make it all the way to the end of the trail! Happy Hiking (and please stay in touch!)!

  • Deb : Apr 27th

    I’m from FL also and starting my GA section hike this weekend with two other older women. We’ve researched and trained for several months. I already have foot issues but am going if I have to drag one foot behind the other.

    • Dreamer : Apr 27th

      Hi Deb;
      You go girl!!! I’ll be back here, cheering you and your fellow hikers on! Please let me know how it goes cause I’m so excited for you all!


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