Girl Thinks Hiking Will Solve All Her Problems

Hi! Welcome to my Appalachian Trail blog!


My name is Deesha. I’m 23 years old. I grew up in Westchester, NY, went to the University of Michigan, and have been living in New Orleans post-grad, where I’ve worked at a couple of sustainability-focused startups. Now I’m about to quit my job and move back in with my parents before starting my NOBO thru-hike in late March!


Do not let my cutesy use of exclamation points fool you. I am nervous as hell. What kind of person uproots their whole life to tramp through the woods for six months? A crazy person, that’s who. Instead of embracing the fact that I may be slightly unhinged, I’ve been furiously planning, as if finding the ideal layered glove system will restore me with some semblance of sanity.

Wear & tear

I am on the wrong side of 22. I pulled a muscle playing kickball and couldn’t walk for a week. I had to take orthopedic Aleve, a drug they only advertise during Jeopardy, which speaks volumes about the targeted demographic. Sometimes, I play a fun game called “Is that PMS bloating or regular belly fat?” Damn. I’ll take “My metabolism slowing down” for 200, lady from the Big Bang Theory.

Thankfully, since I started training in early January, my body’s quirks haven’t bothered me as much. My weekly regimen isn’t too strenuous — 2-3 days of Stairmaster, 1 day of going to the bouldering gym, and 1 day of yoga class — but it’s enough to make me feel optimistic.

However, all my gear is back in New York, so I’ll only have two weeks after I move for shakedown hikes. Since I’ll be unemployed (but in a sexy way) by then, I hope it’ll be enough time to get used to carrying weight on my back.


When I told my roommate that I was thinking about hiking the Appalachian Trail, I initially offered to keep paying rent even though our lease is month-to-month. She was so grateful, but I was immediately regretful. Why did I say that? Sexily unemployed means being free of obligations. Besides, Indian people don’t do vacation homes. The petition for a Shah family lakehouse timeshare has gotten nowhere (“All the nice lakes are too cold for most of the year”). An uninhabited apartment halfway across the country would not fly.

The truth is, I was worried my roommate would hate me for moving out early. More truth: I spend an obscene amount of time worrying that people hate me — or worse — that they don’t care about me at all. The relationships in my 20s so far have felt conditional. I must be quippy (but not too snarky), and I must be emotionally vulnerable and project empathy (even when I simply don’t understand). If I am not some jewel-toned version of myself, universally adored, who am I? What am I doing here? Where is my life going?

With my housing situation, I thought I had to throw money around to keep a friend. On reflection, I realize that’s because I don’t feel like I am enough on my own. I believe this hike will help me grow in confidence. I’ll have to put faith in my mind and body to carry me 2,000 miles to Mount Katahdin. I picture on a 20-mile day, delirious, laughing out loud at a dumb joke I tell myself. I want the AT to remind me how to have fun and treasure the small joys in life.


I would never skip When! That would be journalistic blasphemy. This is what you can generally expect from my blog when I start hiking:

  1. A recap of my travels with pics!
  2. What’s Hurting — If it wasn’t already clear, I am constantly in pain and love complaining about it.
  3. Recommendations — PLEASE send me recommendations for things to read and listen to! I will review them here.
  4. News from the Outside — Watch me struggle to keep up with current events.
  5. An interview with a fellow hiker!

You can also follow me on Insta @deeshastrailgram. See you soon!

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Comments 16

  • Niki : Feb 15th

    What a funny yet moving article! Love to see this type of journalism in the youth of today!

    • Deesha Shah : Feb 15th

      Thanks Niki! The youth are really doing quite well these days. Go youth!

  • Crossword : Feb 15th

    That’s my trail name, because I did the daily NYT crossword, even when hiking the trail! I did a flip flop last year. I look forward to seeing your updates. And I hope it helps you with your self confidence.

    • Deesha Shah : Feb 16th

      Love that trail name! And thank you!

  • AT Class Of '79 : Feb 16th

    You go. Girl! I’ll be following!

  • Michele Snow : Feb 16th

    I am a midlife, mental health nurse, mom with 6 kids (Michele)-Our family does a lot of backpacking in the western united states. You will do fantastic with your ability to have humor about life and it’s imperfect beautiful journey. I will be following you to see what you are up to and cheering you on. Doing something scary is brave and does give you new insight about yourself and ability.

    You are strong to have faith in yourself. I am sure there will be days when you are thinking, “This is the dumbest idea” but real growth only happens when we are beyond our safe boundaries.

    Enjoy this exciting adventure!
    All my best,

  • Andy Hautekeete : Feb 17th

    A crazy person?
    No, a normal person!

  • SCOTT E GLOVER : Feb 17th


  • Taylor : Feb 17th

    Unsolicited advice: tell your roommate you made a mistake and won’t pay the rent. Give her a few months to find a new place or a new roommate. You are under no obligation, especially if the lease is month-to-month. And you are giving her space to have her own adventure.

    I know what it’s like to not want to disappoint someone, so you take on an undue burden. And the regret that comes with that burden is much heavier than the regret that comes with saying the truth.

  • Vickie Lee Devers : Feb 17th

    You go young lady! What a brave soul you are! Make sure you take a tracking device so folks know where you are! I know this, because of watching folks on You Tube hiking, camping, etc! Good luck in your adventures!☺? I hope I can follow you on You Tube! I’m not computer savvy, so it would only be that way! Thank You!

  • Nicole Yakatan : Feb 18th

    Hey Deesha,
    I was a trail angel and occasional hiking buddy for my friend Eclipse who finished her thru hike in September. I’m also a UM grad (though many years before you)! I’d love to help you resupply in Virginia, MD, PA or NJ if you need it.

    Enjoy the adventure!!
    (Trail name is Deja vu)

  • Scott : Feb 18th

    Hah, great profile. Embrace the misery, and you’ll do well.

  • Jane : Feb 20th

    Hiking the AT and PCT was one of the best things I have ever done. There are amazing friends waiting to be met, physical and mental challenges always, and wild adventures to have. For me, the biggest opportunity and growth came from learning to tolerate being in my own mind for uninterrupted hours and days, but comfort with that did not emerge right away. You are the perfect age to capitalize on this chance to deeply process memories, achievements and relationships, to grapple with mistakes, losses and frustrations, and to discover your own values and drive. I hope you will laugh like never before, cry when you need, and shout aloud! The clearest planning and visioning I did for myself as a younger adult was from the trail, amidst the rhythm of solitary footfall, in the beauty of nature, with generous time to think. As it has done for so many, may The Trail deliver confidence and transformation to you, in whatever subtle or not-so-subtle ways it chooses! You sound like a person who has prepared well. Yay! Have fun!

  • TTTCOTTH : Feb 20th

    Quit whining and move on. You’re frigging 22 years old. Oh, excuse me, north of 22 years old. I’m north of 71, and not sympathetic. Enjoy life, be adventurous, be humble, help others, and leave a legacy. That’s the best you can do and it’s more than most do.

  • Joy : Mar 10th

    You’re a brave girl, I am in awe of you. I’m 65 years old and so passionate about thru hiking the AT but too scared to do it alone. I’d been looking for someone to do it with me but, so far, none. I signed up for a backpacking trip in October at the first section of the AT in Georgia with a guide who had done this trail multiple times. I hope after this trip, I will have the know-how and the guts to do this on my own.
    Good luck!

    • Sarah : Mar 22nd

      Joy: you can do it!! You will meet so many people on the trail. Go for it.


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