Good News Hikes the AT

Hi, my name is Kate. I’m a multi-passionate person with a love of gear-talk and diving deep into the significance of small moments.

Why am I here? I’ll be attempting a southbound (SOBO) hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT) for 2022!

I currently live in the Buffalo, New York region with my husband Matt and our cat Robbie (aka Roberta aka Cat). My husband and I will be celebrating 10 years of togetherness and our first wedding anniversary this summer. I’ll also be turning 30 this summer – fingers crossed for an on-trail birthday in July.

Those who choose to dream always find a journey.

Nothing spells romance like telling your newly married husband that you’d like to go live on trail for five months the summer following your wedding. Especially when the conversation is brought up on the honeymoon. Luckily, Matt is the biggest supporter of my swamp monster escapades. He’s the person who tells me to keep trekking on the hard days.

As exciting as this new adventure is, I will deeply miss the places and people I call home during this upcoming thru-hike. The cat, however, will probably be happy to have our apartment to herself during the daytime again. 

I’m choosing to start the AT journey as a solo hiker and looking forward to meeting people along the way. Hiking has become my place of meditation. My biggest source of creativity. And it’s totally okay if not everyone in my life feels the same way. Hot take: solitude can be nice sometimes.

Here’s a warning of what to expect and it’s related to Good News, the trail name I haven’t quite accepted yet. The name was suggested to me after a brief conversation during my thru-hike of the Foothills Trail in March 2021. I chalk it up to my tendency to state my reality (sometimes very bluntly) layered with positivity and optimism.

You know how things just make sense sometimes? How consistent threads carry through life? There’s a slight chance I have a nerdy analytical brain with a heart that seeks to bring positivity and strength to those around me. Sometimes it just takes another person pointing something out to make it all click together. Good News encompasses who I’d like to be and it propels me up those hard climbs. So it stuck through summer 2021. Will it continue onto the AT? We shall see!

Sept 2021: a honeymoon hike with my partner, Matt, up Alberta Peak along the CDT in Pagosa Springs, CO

The Lead-Up

I have a degree in Geology/Environmental Earth Science and an MBA, and for the past eight years I’ve worked in the environmental and construction consulting industries. There are many aspects to the work I do now that I enjoy. 

However, this summer I’ll be turning 30 and I’m starting to question everything. It’ll be sad to step away from my position in May before leaving for the AT in early June. I’m grateful for all the relationships built, the opportunities, and the experience.

I’m also a full believer that all experiences present a chance to learn – a viewpoint that’s often not realized until after the fact. 

For years I felt split into two different people: one wild and one corporate. The pressure to fit into a mold of ‘success’ led to a bit of mental crumbing. My job and relationship were my full identity which led to many moments of feeling lost. 

Then, in early 2020 the world shifted into a pandemic. I started working from home, anxieties to meet expectations from others lessened, and I noticed places or things that made my heart full of joy (like physical activity). Now instead of feeling lost, I’m trying to make bold decisions.  

The most important thing to me right now is figuring out how I want to live life instead of life living me, as I enter into this next phase. Where better to soul search than hitting a 2,190-mile trail?  

NF to PA July 2021: solo backpacking can make it hard to get those action shots. So when the opportunity presents itself…

The Trail 

I did the big thing. I put in notice that I was planning to leave my job of eight years to hike the AT. I’ve never resigned from a job before. It’s scary to be leaving the comfort of a job’s safety net. Now I actually have to hike this damn trail.

I’m attempting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail SOBO from Maine to Georgia. Starting as early as possible in June as I finish out a few other commitments. Being an east-coast girl, crossing through 14 states of various diverse landscapes, the familiarity of the green tunnel, and the newness of it all. It just feels right. 

Hopes and Dreams a Decade in the Making

Like so many other hikers, my first exposure to long-distance hiking was from a book.

In 2010, my senior year of high school, I read the book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. The book was recommended by my environmental science teacher at the time – the story has always stuck. (Teachers really do change lives.) Not that I wanted to jump on the trail right there and then.

It would be years before I’d even begin to comprehend the extent of long-distance trails that cover the US and abroad. And the possibilities that slow-moving travel offered. Possibilities that I’m still having a hard time putting into words. 

What keeps me coming back? I love the fog. The sensation of light rain. The joy of sunrise after a night’s sleep in the wild. A hot cup of green or black tea in the morning. A bright moon at night. New places. Useful items. Unique or historical architecture. Sharing kindness or stories with a stranger. 

I hate biting bugs. I’m afraid of the dark. The inconsistencies of rain jackets drive me nutty. Despite my best efforts to train effectively, I’ve unfortunately dealt with some overuse injuries over the past few years such as bum knees, back pain, and chronic shin splints. Alternatively, overuse injuries are just opportunities to identify and treat issues that likely already exist. (Is the optimism annoying yet?) 

There will be many struggles. I may not make it the full distance. What’s most important is that I tried.

In addition to distance hiking I enjoy being on or near water, attempting to rock climb, strength training, taking photos, cooking, admiring the creativity of others, and a newfound fondness of writing. 

The chance to blog this journey is super exciting for two main reasons. Firstly, I want to explore being comfortable with putting myself out there. Taking risks. Shoving perfectionism and analysis paralysis out the door. Secondly, I’d like to gain more writing experience as I consider a potential career transition.

I’ve been a technical writer for almost a decade, but in no way do I consider myself a *wri-ter*. But writing is something I really enjoy. Especially when it’s adventure-related. So I’m really looking forward to the chance to give wri-ting this blog my best attempt. Does brutal positivity make for good reading? 

March 2021: a Foothills Trail sunrise breakfast on Sassafras Mountain, SC

Oh, the Possibilities! 

I see 2022 as my chance to attempt a long trail – a very long trail – an overwhelmingly long trail – before adulthood gets more adulty. A self-imposed challenge to live outside the safety net. My parents have always encouraged independence, adventure, and knowing how to travel on a budget. I fully plan to put those skills to good use.  

To those who have offered love and support, the congratulations on choosing myself, for living out a dream. Thank you. It means a ton. It’s been the most confusing and encouraging few months of voicing this decision to those in my circle. And to folks who have offered to hike along, on-trail assistance, or a home-cooked meal: I’ll be in touch!

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Comments 11

  • Smitty : Feb 14th

    I’m excited for you, even if you only do Maine I’m impressed good luck I’ll watch for posts

    Reply
    • Kate Killion : Mar 12th

      Thanks Smitty! First goal is to complete Maine. Then New Hampshire. Everything after that is just bonus!

      Reply
  • Ed : Feb 15th

    Hi Kate… I also live in the Buffalo region. I appreciate your positive demeanor…. can never have too much of that. Way to take the leap… I’m excited for you and for the chance to follow your journey through your blog. That’s “Great News!”

    Reply
    • Kate Killion : Mar 12th

      Happy to connect with another person from WNY! Say hi if we pass eachother on trail one day!

      Reply
  • Cowgirl : Feb 17th

    We will be nobo in New Hampshirite around that time finishing up our many years of section hikes Hope we meet Doing a thru on foothills this spring close to our house. Words of advice? Best of luck. Enjoy!!

    Reply
    • Deni Trippi : Feb 27th

      Kate, Sonia and I met you on the Osgood Trail in Allegheny state park. We were thrilled to get your note on my windshield. We can’t seem to find you on Facebook but I believe I’ve submitted the correct stuff to follow your blog. Very much enjoyed meeting you and talking with you. We hope to be able to follow your adventures and tell you about ours!

      Reply
    • Kate Killion : Mar 12th

      Cowgirl, it took me a hot second to learn how to reply to comments. But congrats on the pending finish in NH after many years of section hikes! Any advice for me?
      Oh, the Foothills Trail. An amazing trail supported by wonderful people. The terrain was were more challenging than I expected (NY hiker legs), but every day the scenery was totally different in a magical way. I went eastbound in late March and wouldn’t have changed anything about the experience. Other than the fact that I wanted to just turn back around and go westbound. Have an amazing time if you haven’t been out there already!

      Reply
  • Sonia Perry : May 12th

    Hi Kate,
    Just thinking about your starting date??? Should be getting close. Keep us posted!

    Reply
    • Kate Killion : May 13th

      Hi Sonia, my start date in early June is approaching fast! I have another blog post coming this weekend. Thanks for checking in!

      Reply
      • Sonia Perry : May 15th

        Good morning,
        I knew it was approaching and yes, quickly!!! I look forward to you next post.

        Reply

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