Hiking Alone, but not By Myself
When people find out that I am going to hike the AT, they frequently have questions. Are you going to bring a gun? How far is it? Where will you stay? Where does it go? Where are you starting? How many miles a day will you walk? What do you eat while on trail? Where do you go to the bathroom? And, inevitably, they ask my least favorite question. Who are you going with? They find out I’m going by myself and they express concern, fear, and even sadness.
Normally, I like the fact that people are asking questions. It implies they are at least minimally interested about my plans. And it gives me time to talk about the trail and how excited I am. However, that last question bothers me primarily because of the way people react.
I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
I pride myself on being the strong, independent woman that my mother always dreamed I would be. I’ve never been one to think that I needed a man in my life or needed anyone else’s permission to do whatever it is I wanted. So, when my friend, who had been thinking about coming with me, decided against joining me on this trip, I never considered not going simply because I would be alone. Indeed, I began to look at it as part of the challenge. Because it isn’t enough to simply walk 2,200 miles; I have to do it on my own.
I do understand that there are loads of people on the AT. I also understand that the odds are high that I will meet at least one if not more hikers with whom I will get along and decide to travel. In my mind, however, there’s a difference between starting off with someone and choosing at some point along the way to hike with someone. The second option allows you to maintain your independence and flexibility whereas the first option keeps you permanently tied to someone else’s schedule, needs, and desires.
With a Little Help From My Friends
My mom had a saying that she repeated to me frequently as I was growing up. She even had it etched into a bracelet for me a few years ago. Surround yourself with good people. As I got into my early 20s and realized that my mom actually knew a thing or two, I started taking that phrase to heart and it’s kind of guided me ever since.
I now find myself at the age of 39 with several solid friendships with outstanding women. None of them ever question my ability to complete this hike and all of them have been extremely supportive of me over these last few months. Some even thought enough about me to give me little tokens that hold great meaning, including Georgia to Maine shoelace tags that are already on my shoes, a “She Persisted” pin that will likely find a home on my pack, and a bracelet with “Brave” engraved on it. I have a feeling that these three items, along with the aforementioned bracelet from my mother, will help keep me focused on the goal of getting to Katahdin by reminding me that though I may be physically alone on that trail, my friends are there with me every step of the way.
I’d like to give a hat tip to Cassandra Erin Studios (http://cassandraerin.com/) for her work on both the Georgia-Maine shoelace tags and the bracelet from my mother.
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