I’m Off to See the Wizard (on the Appalachian Trail)

Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t heard already, I, Hayden Cox, will be hiking the Appalachian Trail starting in the beginning of March 2020.

There, There Hagrid. It’s Not Really Goodbye After All

After a few months at a wonderful job, I’ve informed my boss I will leave the firm on February 28. With ~five months before I start law school, I want to maximize this time in my life by doing something I may never get the chance to do again. And with me—for some unknown reason and perhaps some latent masochism—that means making myself extremely uncomfortable by living in the woods for the next several months.

Other than a few odds and ends, I have all my gear: tent, sleeping bag, socks, underwear, you name it. I signed up with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to register my hike—which, for anyone considering a hike of any distance, is a responsible thing to do. I tested out all my gear on an overnight trip to Jones Gap in South Carolina (good thing too, my tent’s rain cape did not work at all). Lastly, I made plans with one of my oldest friends, William Chalmers (follow him on Instagram @chalmsonthetrail) to drive up to Amicalola Falls to start the Approach Trail toward Springer Mountain.

If all goes well, Will and I will arrive together at Springer, the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. After that, who knows? I certainly don’t.

You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

Frankly, there’s a lot I don’t know—a point my mother seems to enjoy pointing out to me. I don’t know what the weather will be like. I don’t know if Will and I will stick together. I don’t even know where I will camp on the very first night. And I definitely don’t know if there is a wizard on the trail. But strangely, I’m OK with that. I’ve been fortunate enough to know where I was going to sleep nearly every night of my life, I’ve known exactly where my next meal will come from, and I’ve grown up with many of the luxuries of a first world country.

I think it’s overdue that I experience what many people deal with every day: not knowing.

That being said, here’s what I do know: I have some strong legs from running, but have minimal camping/hiking experience. I will make a lot of mistakes. And, if I don’t take advantage of this opportunity now, I will likely regret it for the rest of my life. I’m not sure what I’ll learn, but I know it will be significant, life altering, and will allow me to see the world from a new perspective.

Never Tell Me the Odds!

I hope you’ll enjoy reading my updates as I start on this journey. For more updates, follow me on Instagram @haydenstuartcox or feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected]. In the meantime, please pray that I don’t get eaten by a bear. All religions, or lack thereof, are acceptable.

Here is to uncertainty, a dash of crazy, and an experience I’ll never forget. Here is to the Appalachian Trail, 2020.

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Comments 15

  • Avatar
    Chill Bill : Feb 22nd

    Just wait until you realize that the comfort of the woods is far more preferable to the comforts of the non-woods

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Scout : Feb 22nd

      Best of luck to you, Hayden. Looking forward to reading about your adventures. Hike safely.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Scout : Feb 22nd

        Also, if you DO get eaten by a bear, please post photos.

        Reply
        • Avatar
          Scout : Feb 22nd

          Yes, I know I’m doing this wrong. I’ll get better.

          Reply
        • Avatar
          Hayden Cox : Feb 23rd

          Thanks! I’ll make sure to upload a few pictures from inside the bear’s stomach if I get the chance.

          Reply
    • Avatar
      Hayden Cox : Feb 23rd

      I hope that’ll be the case soon!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Paul : Feb 22nd

    Good luck with your thru-hike. I live off the AT in WNC. Had the good fortune of hiking 40 miles this week; although most of it was in the Pisgah NF in Brevard. Bottom line up front: be pre prepared for crazy weather! I’ve hiked many 14ers in Colorado, have been on 16,000 feet peaks in Afghanistan, etc. Last night I was in a tent in the Pisgah and the temp topped out at 10 degrees! And we were only at 3000′ MLS. Don’t skimp on your cold weather gear for about the first 400 miles of your hike. Good luck!!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Hayden Cox : Feb 23rd

      Wow, that’s some cold temps. I love Pisgah. I’ve gotten the chance to explore it quite a bit while attending Furman in Greenville, SC. Thanks for the advice and support!

      Reply
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    Meg Sheriff : Feb 23rd

    I’m a mom to three sons- I would be super proud of them if they started off on this journey; good for you. Enjoy every moment. Take some good books- Catcher in the Rye, Gatsby, In Cold Blood…they’ll keep your brain active.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Hayden Cox : Feb 23rd

      Catcher and Gatsby are two of my favorites! I read them for the first time in high school and have read them both a few more times since. I’ll have to add In Cold Blood to my reading list. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Vagabond class of 2017 : Feb 23rd

    Best of luck. NOTHING prepares you for the trail. It is hard. It is wonderful.
    Advice.
    Don’t get rid of cold weather clothes until after Virginia.
    The trail does not level out …ever.
    Rest when your body tells you.
    We started our as through hikers. After a really bad injury, we became LASH. Finishing Maine in September of this year.
    HAPPY TRAILS

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Ladyrose : Feb 23rd

    Enjoy it minute by minute, and savor each day. Take a good book..Wild or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy! Lastly, journal the experience! You’ll want to remember, and we’ll want to know! Stay fearless! So very happy for you!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Little Hoppy : Feb 23rd

    I Adam so proud of you and this is first time I’ve heard of you and your upcoming hike. So far you have received lots of great advice.
    just hang on to the journal and memories youll have later in life ! I’ll be following you guys.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Hayden Cox : Feb 23rd

      Thanks! I’ll keep the blog active while I’m hiking to keep you in the loop. I appreciate the support!

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Geoffrey VanDeusen : Feb 24th

        I’m 81 & live in AR your living my dream please keep me posted good luck consistently trumps intensity every time go easy but go!

        Reply

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