I’m Getting the Hang of This!

I have now been out on trail for five weeks and can feel my confidence growing. Thru hiking is getting easier and I am able to enjoy the hiking more without the stress of the small details. I am stronger, more carefree, and overall loving every aspect of trail life.

After a thunderstorm, we were rewarded with great views (bug hopped on the poncho train too).

My Confidence is Growing

There are two kinds of confidence that I have grown into: self-confidence and trail confidence.

I have felt myself being more confident in social situations. Before the trail, I really didn’t like socializing in big groups. But out on trail I’ve become more comfortable being around larger groups of people and talking while in a group setting. Although big groups will always make me anxious, I love seeing myself become more comfortable and capable while in a group setting. I am able to voice my opinion or idea without being nervous about others’ judgment. I don’t know if it’s because everyone on trail is so friendly or if I’ve just learned how to not care about others’ opinions of me but I love it!

My trail confidence has also increased. When I started the trail, every morning I would start the day with two liters of water. I would get nervous about running out of water during the day and not being able to find a water source to get more water. I’ve learned that I will almost always find a water source somewhere along the trail and that if I start the morning with one liter of water it’s ok. I’ve also learned how to listen to my body and not stress about hitting a certain amount of miles each day. I can stop when I get tired instead of being miserable for the last three miles of the day. These two aspects of trail life were really difficult five weeks ago but as my confidence on trail has grown, I’ve been able to let go of my smaller trail anxieties.

Crossing the TN/VA state line.

Body, Mind, and Soul

Today one of my friends on trail told me that the first third of the trail if for the growth of my body, the second third is for the growth of my mind, and the last third is for the growth of my soul. I really like this idea but I feel like I’ve felt growth in all three areas already.

Yesterday I hiked 26 miles. I have my body, mind, and soul to thank for this amazing accomplishment. My feet didn’t start hurting until the last three miles because I’ve been getting physically stronger. All of the small aches and pains of the first few weeks have gone away and have been replaced with strong and capable muscle.

My mind helped me believe in myself. I was able to decide that I wanted to hike this mileage and as soon as I decided to do it, I knew that I could. I am so grateful for the determination that my mind is able to give me.

Lastly, my soul made the long day enjoyable. The morning was snowy and I enjoyed seeing everything covered in glittering white. The sunrise was stunning even though it was 20°F out. I felt my soul being fulfilled by every aspect of the nature surrounding me.

Hiking through pretty fields.

I Feel Like a Thru-Hiker

When I started my thru hike I wondered how long it would take to feel like a thru hiker. On day 28 of being out on trail, something clicked. I don’t know if it was hiking through a really scary thunderstorm or feeling proud of my purchase of a poncho. But when I arrived at camp that evening, I was different. I felt like a thru hiker. I am enjoying trail life so much. Even when I’m miserable, I am so happy to be out on trail.

Views on the top of a bald (I was really cold).

Highlights from Days 28 Through 34

– I hiked through multiple thunderstorms and hail

– Hit 400 miles on trail

400 miles with Mr. Quack.

– Bought a poncho which makes rainy days much more enjoyable

In my poncho on a rainy day.

– Camped at the highest shelter on the AT (6,270 ft)

– Camped in 15°F weather (coldest night yet!!)

– Hiked through snow for the first time on the AT

Me and bug hiking through the snow.

– Hiked 26 miles in one day (over hilly terrain with a full pack!)

– Hiked over stunning balds

– Had some awesome conversations with Bug while we hiked together

– Saw some cool waterfalls

Awesome waterfall.

– Finished North Carolina and Tennessee and started Virginia

Leaving NC for the last time.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 16

  • Faith Breads : Apr 3rd

    AWESOME! Good luck in VA!

  • Russ1663 : Apr 4th

    March on Lil Sister! You are cruising now! Have fun in Va. Lots of really nice vistas. Check out Himpback Rocks just before Rockfish Gap.

  • Botaniker : Apr 4th

    I am loving your updates! 26 miles is a huge accomplishment. I love the Bear’s Den area in VA and Raven Rocks. And Harper’s Ferry- super pretty! Best of luck on this next section of trail!

  • ATHoosierHiker & Red : Apr 5th

    Great meeting you in Damascus! Sorry we missed Mr. Quack. Enjoy the rest of your hike, stay safe & be well!

    • Hannah : Apr 17th

      It was so great meeting you!! Thanks so much for saying hi :))

  • Brian : Apr 5th

    Great to hear you’re settling in. Enjoying your adventure through your post. Would love to do a thru hike. Good luck, maybe we will cross paths when you get to the White Mountains.

  • Fitdoc : Apr 5th

    As a injured veteran I will never know the many wonders of trial life to the extent you are experiencing. I am enjoying experiencing it with you on your journey.. Stay resolved and curious in the wonders of the AT!

    • Overpacked : Apr 16th

      I am impressed with 26 miles in one day! What is your pack weight?
      Thanks and keep trekking!

  • Matt : Apr 5th

    Keep truckin, Girl! You can see how happy you are just in the joy coming from your smile. Thanks for letting us follow you on your journey. Looking forward to the next installment!

  • Janet : Apr 5th

    Hi Hannah, Congratulations on reaching 400 miles! That is just amazing. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying your updates. I love when they show up in my inbox every few days. I am really proud of you and an in awe of your perseverance and your insight into your mind, body and soul. This is truly a transformational experience for you. Keep up the good work!! Janet

  • Jennifer : Apr 9th

    Wow, what an accomplishment! We are enjoying watching your journey and I’m personally living vicariously through you!
    -Tahoe family into Gatlinburg

  • Sean : Apr 10th

    I’ve enjoyed reading all your updates so far. I’m planning my own thru hike for next year. Been really nice to kind of tag along on your hike virtually.

  • Tony Sommer : Apr 13th

    Congratulations! Great photos, and great perspective. We are pulling for you! Get it!

  • Raquel Beltran : Apr 25th

    Great work, you rock, love your picks.
    Stay safe, praying for you, keep us imform.

  • Stephen Dunn : May 16th

    Thank you

  • Shirley : May 17th

    Sounds like you have grown so much mentally and physically.. Thank you for the ride along..


What Do You Think?