Why I’m Hiking the Appalachian Trail
In elementary school, probably 1999 or 2000, my class had a guest speaker come in. She spoke to us about her time on the Appalachian Trail as a thru-hiker. I was completely hanging on every word she spoke. Little did I know that thru-hiker planted a small dream in me that would stay hidden for a long time.
I grew up in a small rural town in Tennessee nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, so the trail was no stranger to me growing up. I remember begging my family to walk up the trail at Newfound Gap every year when we would take our family trip to Gatlinburg. No luck, but that dream of thru-hiking was still sitting in the back of my mind.
I’ve loved being outside my whole life, but never got super interested in hiking until college. I had hit a pretty low point in my mental health struggle and found that hiking was my escape from that. The little dream in the back of my head started to come to the forefront now. I started planning a thru-hike while in college and had plans to go in 2016 or 2017. Unforeseen circumstances put that dream on pause a little while longer.
I graduated college in 2017 and finding a “grown-up” job became something that I thought needed my attention at that point. I’m currently on my third job since graduating and I honestly hate it, just like I’ve hated the two before. So this year is when I decided that I’m going to leave that behind, put my career on pause, and follow that dream. Why suffer through a job I hate when the trail has been calling me for so long?
The why is the biggest question to ask yourself when committing to something as big as a thru-hike. The why is what will keep you going on those days where you just want to quit.
I have a few reasons as to why I want to do this.
It’s been something I’ve been interested in doing for so long
I want to prove to myself that I can do this.
I was supposed to go on a long -erm mission trip a few years ago and I backed out. At the time I came up with an excuse, but after dwelling on it for so long, I have come to terms with the fact that I was scared. I feel like a failure for backing out of that trip and I still regret it to this day. Standing on top of that sign at Katahdin will help me realize that I’m stronger than I think I am.
The cliche “I have no idea what I want to do with my life.”
But it’s so true. I thought I had a grasp on what I wanted out of my life, but I really don’t. I’m hoping to really get a grasp on who I am as a person and to let go of who I used to be.
I want to be uncomfortable.
I absolutely love being in nature. The woods are somewhere where I really feel alive. I’ve spent my whole life inside my comfort zone and I want to push past those boundaries. I’m tired of doing what’s expected and to just forget about your dreams to achieve that “American Dream.” I’ve realized that I don’t give a shit about the “American Dream.” I want to challenge myself and I want to grow.
The Ultimate Goal
I haven’t decided on a start date yet, but sometime between March and April 2020, I will put everything I’ll need on my back and walk. I will walk through 14 states and over 2,100 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin in Maine. I’m excited and terrified at the same time.
I’m going to be leaving the most important people in my life. My fiancé, my family, and my two dogs, Chloe and Gwen. I have so much support from my fiancé and I am so thankful for that. He will even be joining me for some sections.
So here’s my announcement. I am hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2020 (Can you keep a secret? I haven’t told my mom yet. ) If you want to follow my journey, please subscribe to my page here or follow me on Instagram. Happy trails!
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