Hiker Intro: Perfect Timing

Sunday, February 27th, 2022 will mark the start of my ~five-month thru-hike beginning on the Approach Trail to Springer Mountain. My path to the AT may be unconventional, but I am jumping in with both feet and taking a risk!

How Did I Get Here?

I hope this doesn’t bore any of y’all too much but it’s quite the series of events that led me here! I went down the traditional path of going to college (Syracuse University) and then graduated with a double major in marketing and retail management. In 2019, I landed an excellent job as a planner at Macy’s Backstage in New York City. I fell into a great routine of living in NYC, working a job that I enjoyed, and learning the ins and outs of living on my own. When the pandemic hit in 2020, I was furloughed from April to July of that year.

Just like millions of other people around the world, the pandemic gave me time to slow down and reflect on the direction of my life. Through enough time, contemplation, and research, I slowly came to the conclusion that I wanted to shift my career into the non-profit sector. I’ve spent a lot of my life volunteering in my free time from mission trips in high school to currently volunteering at Literacy Partners helping teach English.  At the beginning of this realization, Macy’s took me off of furlough and I was back at work (virtually of course). At the time, it was a relief for my own sanity and well-being (and for my credit card). It wasn’t until the Fall of 2020 that things started to click and fall into place which is where the 2nd part of this decision comes in!

The Peace Corps

I had finally decided that I was going to apply to the Peace Corps because it encompassed a lot of aspects and qualities that I was looking for in the next step of my life.  I applied to the Peace Corps in February of 2021 after 3 slow and deliberate months of working on my application. In March, I was put under consideration for the position of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in Armenia set to depart in March of 2022. A few months later in August, I was granted an interview for the position and I was ECSTATIC! I quite literally called and texted all my family and friends brimming with excitement over the interview.

Now, unfortunately, as we all know, the Delta and Omicron variants have been running rampant all over the world. The P.C. made a devastating decision to halt sending people to their host countries for the safety of everyone. It was at this point where I really had to sit myself down and think about what my next steps were going to be. The reality was that the P.C. wasn’t going to resume assigning volunteers anytime soon. I also knew that my job wasn’t fulfilling me and I couldn’t continue to commit myself in the capacity that they deserved.

Aaaand Here Comes the AT

I’ve always been interested in the Appalachian Trail but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would try to attempt a thru-hike. This past October, I ran my first marathon in New Hampshire. I fell in love with the exhausting but thrilling process of planning, training, and completing a huge physical and mental feat. Since then I’ve been thinking, “what will be my next challenging adventure?” At the same moment, I had been trying to find the right time to leave my job. Except, the big question still was, “If not the Peace Corps, then what?”.I know that I want to work in international girls’ education and equality/empowerment. Yet, the idea of searching for another job right away and giving up on the P.C. didn’t seem right to me.

To be honest, I truly cannot pinpoint a day or moment when the idea of the AT popped up into my head. It seems one day I just said to myself “well, what if I start the AT this spring?”. Then the idea just snowballed and it turned into a solid plan. Which lead me to this exact moment of typing my first blog post! I now have one more week left at work, I’ve informed everyone of my plan and I have all of my gear and travel plans to Georgia dialed in!

I’m feeling a whole lot of emotions the closer it gets. I would say I’m 75% excited and 25% absolutely terrified s***tless – which keeps me humble and in check. My goal is to be as honest and real while also sharing all the good and wonderful that comes out of this. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I  cannot wait for February 27th!

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Comments 15

  • Tom : Jan 30th

    Best of luck on the Trail! You will absolutely love it.

    • Anna : Jan 30th

      Annie, just wanted to say way to go! My husband Tom and I completed a through hike of the AT in 2009, right after our Peace Corps experience got cut short because of political volatility where we were in Bolivia. And we also ran a marathon a few months before we hiked the AT -lots in common with your path! We live in central VA so feel free to reach out if you want a lift to town/a beer/a home cooked meal when you’re getting close to Waynesboro!

  • yogidozer : Jan 30th

    Peace Corps and college. You sound like a great person, wishing you the best!

  • Liv P : Jan 30th

    I’m excited to follow your journey kid! #AnnieOnTheTrail

  • Merrymac : Jan 30th

    Congratulations to my enthusiastic, excited, well-prepared granddaughter! I am thrilled for you and very happy that I will be able to follow you through the blog. I hope the postings come often with pictures! Bon Voyage, hugs, and good luck!

  • Greg Brooks : Jan 30th

    Anxious to read your posts. I’m an ultramarathoner and follow many trail trekers. You have completed a marathon and know the drill. Your decision to do this is admirable. Hike on!!!

  • Jhony : Jan 30th

    Very spiffy into, enjoyed v much. And being from NH you must be a good egg.
    Just had to subscribe. I believe I will be glad I did.

  • pearwood : Jan 30th

    Hi, Annie!
    I’m starting NOBO on Tuesday. Gack! This is actually happening.
    You will probably pass me on your way. I am estimating six months. (Gotta be back for our 50th wedding anniversary on August 26!)
    Blessings on your way,
    Steve / pearwood

  • Garry : Jan 31st

    Three time cancer survivor. NH guy now retired to Philadelphia. Been thinking about doing sections for years. Doing first 100 miles of the LT this year. I’m 71 and walking with a ten pound pack 4-5 miles every day. Baby steps.
    Hope your journey goes smoothly. Happy trails!

  • Lily : Jan 31st

    So excited for your trip! It seems like everything in your recent life has led to this beautiful journey. Take it all in and enjoy every moment.
    Best of luck!

  • nancymvy : Feb 1st

    I am so excited for you to start this amazing journey. You are a strong and courageous young woman! I can’t wait to follow your adventure.

  • Connie Becker : Feb 1st

    Annie, what an adventure! I can hardly wait to watch you and your progress through this amazing challenge. You are strong, resourceful, and determined, and all that will serve you well. God bless you, and God speed!

  • Glen Dabaghian : Feb 1st

    Taking risks will lead to your greatest life experiences. I count pursuing my architecture degree (Syracuse), visiting my ancestral homeland (Armenia), volunteering as a firefighter, and AT LASHs among some of the rewards achieved by jumping in with both feet. Your hardest made decision is behind you. Now just right foot…left foot ..right foot with supporters behind you all the way! You got this.

  • Fairy GodMama : Feb 5th

    I couldn’t be prouder of you, precious goddaughter. Your path has been meandering and full of surprises…I have no doubt this adventure will be another opportunity for growth and self-awareness. I know you’ll make the very best of it. I’m looking forward to stuffing you full of pasta and waving goodbye at Amicolola (or thereabouts). Bon Voyage, AnnaK!

  • Jenny : Jun 22nd

    Wondering if you stayed on the trail?


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