Why I’m Hiking After Retirement

Hello, my name is Barbara R. (no trail name yet),
The end of March I plan to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT)  NOBO.   I have never hiked anything remotely as challenging as the AT  or for that matter had the thought of such entered my mind. I have experience camping and some hiking but, not to the extent of hiking through 14 states. I have the time, I have recently retired after teaching many years I have the desire and I’m in good health. Most of my family and friends think that I am crazy or delusional and just won’t be able to complete a hike of this magnitude. Boy were they surprised when my gear started showing up from REI and Amazon. Then I started wearing my backpack and hiking shoes to work. At this point it became a reality for them. My grandson asked me, who had given me permission to adventure the wilderness. My response was a raised eyebrow. Many of my students had not even heard of such a place and couldn’t even comprehend such an endeavor until I started sharing research and gave them writing assignments about the Trail.  One of the many questions on everyone’s mind, and eventually my own, The Bears…what about the bears.  I bought a can of bear spray.  After further research I discovered that bear spray is not necessary on the AT.  If bears are aware that you are in the area they usually retreat.  It’s also important to be vigilante in the states with bears and you shouldn’t  come between mama and her cubs.Doing so would result in a bear confrontation.  Bears don’t like to be surprised so the more noise made through bear dense areas the better (more about bears later). There were so many safety “what if’s” during the early stages of planning from family, friends and myself that I considered taking my retirement  trip to Europe instead. But, I love a challenge, meeting new people and the great outdoors. 

 So here I am gear, food bags, using terminology that was not part of my own 18 month ago and  obsessed with The Trail. Am I excited??? I’m bouncing off the walls with excitement. Like most other thru-hikers, I question my own sanity and ask myself, “who walks 2,186 miles?” Then I think about the beautiful country that we live in and the excitement of meeting others like me and the fact that this is an opportunity of a lifetime that will never come again.  I’m wondering how many others have “doubting Thomases” in their lives?  How many others have people in their lives that don’t believe that they are serious about their upcoming adventure?

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Comments 6

  • Gail Barrett : Feb 3rd

    Barbara, my husband and I are doing the same thing this year (flip flop version). I’m 62 and he is 64. We figured that there are plenty of years left for us to sit around and watch TV, but if we want to ever do anything adventurous, we need to do it now before our health fails. Most people we know think we are nuts and can’t imagine doing this, but it is exciting to break out of our comfortable ruts! I hope we run into you on the trail. Good luck!!!!

    • Barbara : Feb 4th

      I totally agree with you. There is no time like the present. I hope to meet you on the trail also.
      Best, Barb

  • james : Feb 3rd

    Go for it. I retired 2 years ago and have been out on the trail every summer. Good Luck!

    • Barbara : Feb 4th

      Than is absolutely wonderful. I plan on doing much the same. It’s amazing how much you miss indoors.

  • Vicky (aks) energizer : Feb 6th

    Barbara. You go for it. I hike alone all the time. I, too, retired 2 year ago and hiked a section of the AT last spring. No bears seen. Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t be hiking alone. You will not be alone. During the day, yes, you will hike alone if you so desire but at night there are always people in the campsites/ shelter. You will meet more people by hiking by yourself. I meet so my nice people. Do get yourself a SPOT or other signaling device. The insurance is nominal for the peace of mind. Good luck.

    • Barbara : Feb 7th

      Thank you for the reassurance. Actually, I was a little apprehensive at first but now…I’m looking forward to the challenge and the alone time. I have InReach device.


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