Hiker intro: An early graduation for an early start

School in Appalachia 

This little endeavor of mine has been a long time coming. Toward the end of high school, during the time when 18-year-olds are asked to make some important decisions, I tossed around the idea of a 2,000ish mile walk on the Appalachian Trail. I’d always been enchanted by the idea, curious of the feasibility and figured there was no time like the present. 

I graduated from Appalachian State University in December.

In hindsight, considering the Appalachian Trail was merely a procrastinating-tool I was using to postpone filling out college applications. I finally filled them out and found a new home in Boone, North Carolina – the home of Appalachian State University. 

My time at App State proved to be the valuable and formative experience that college is hyped up to be. I made some great friends, wrote for the student newspaper The Appalachian, met my lovely girlfriend and, as much as I could, spent time in the mountains that I knew I’d walk thru one day. 

Getting real

If I followed a typical four-year plan and graduated in May of 2022, I could still hike the AT. But if I graduated early in December of 2021 instead it would give me the chance to start the trail sooner and hike it northbound – the way I had always dreamed to. So I enrolled in as many summer courses as I could handle to make it happen. 

Roan High Knob Shelter during a December shakedown.

For the first time this idea became real. It might actually happen. My final semester at App State consisted of regularly running away into the woods for the weekend, trying to prove to myself that this dream was going to come true. I hiked 25 miles of the AT in Virginia one weekend, 17 miles through the Smokies during another, 25 around Roan Mountain during the next and, before I packed up and left my college town for good, a final 20 mile section of the trail. It is going to happen, I finally realized.

I’d tested my gear and my legs, turned the tassel of my graduation cap, packed all of my belongings into boxes and put everything I own into a storage unit. 

Nothing to do but walk

Now I’m back at my childhood home in Atlanta, anxiously awaiting my March 12 start date. My bag is packed, my clothes are covered in permethrin, all of my gear is weighed out and my legs are itching. There’s no more classes to take, no more boxes to pack – nothing to do but walk. 

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Comments 2

  • Katie F. : Mar 2nd

    Love my shoutout!!! You’re amazing and I can’t wait to hear about the rest of the amazing journey you are about to embark on.

  • Judi and George : Mar 3rd

    Good writing! Exciting opportunity! Proud of you and love you!❤️❤️


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