Is It My Turn Yet? Strategies for Waiting

I’m Ready. I’m SO READY.
I don’t think I could possibly be ready-er, readier, more ready.

Actually, that’s only half true

I’m most certainly ready mentally and emotionally. I’ve been preparing for this journey for the last eight years! In 2016 my husband died. I moved from suburban Connecticut ‘back home’ to rural Pennsylvania to have the support of my family. I decided that once my kids were out of the house, I would take a pause from the world as I know it and step into the next chapter of my life by hiking 2,200 miles. My youngest left for college in August and I’m ready.

And …

Since my personality houses a big dose of spontaneity and very little patience – well…

… it’s good thing logic and reason are also some of my strengths. My body is physically ready but my resupply boxes are still mostly empty. I have the following list of to-dos circling on repeat in my mind:

  • replace my hammock (slightly important)
  • purchase 7 pounds of almond M&Ms (arguably not so important)
  • order more Rise Bars, Epic Bars, Picky Bars and Thunderbird Bars (fingers crossed for some good Black Friday deals)
  • upgrade charging block and portable charger
  • schedule all the doctor/dentist check ups
  • finalize finances
  • send daily prayers to the gods that my car survives until trail time

Oh, almost forgot- I need to choose a start date. Although I am aiming for early March, I have yet to set an exact date. Luckily for me, I have wonderful family members that will be driving me from PA to GA so no need to worry about flights or lodging.

With a small to-do list and desire to “just do it”,  I’m keeping myself busy putting miles on my feet with my pack. My gear is ‘on the ready’ in the corner of the room and I’ve been using a full 2L CNOC bag to add some additional weight (great idea from another hiker – allows you to dump out some water to reduce weight if you get tired).

I’ve been averaging about 1,000-1,500 miles a year on foot the last several years with a combination of day hikes and backpacking trips. I’ve had a few big adventures from the east to the west including trips to Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. I visited Hawaii, The Tetons, The Whites, Adirondacks, and Acadia. I completed the Mt. LeConte Vertical Mile Challenge and attempted the A100 (100 miles on the North Country Trail – I stopped at 75 miles).

My most awesome adventures were summiting Mount Saint Helens and hiking with my kids through a crater in Hawaii. When I finish the AT I’ll be off to Bali to lead a hiking and yoga retreat. As I write all of this, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the opportunities I have been given.

Strategies for Waiting

Since I can only hike so much, I have created plenty of other activities to keep me busy. As a self proclaimed education junkie, I’ve been immersing myself in many areas of interest. I’ve completed several trainings to add new modalities to my service offerings. I studied MindBody Therapy online during the COVID shutdown and recently completed an intensive meditation training.  I’m currently studying Thai Bodywork and will be offering this service next fall once I ‘settle’ – whatever that means.

I have a personal daily yoga practice that includes meditation, journaling and movement. I’m an avid reader and often have 2-3 books going at once. I’m inspired by others and post positive quotes and snip-its on social media. I have a daily gratitude practice I also share. One of my recent inspirations is from Ram Dass:

“It’s very far out when you begin not to think. Or the thinking’s going by and you’re not identified with being the thinker. You really think you’ve lost something. It’s a while before you can appreciate the peace that comes from the simplicity of no-mind, of just emptiness, of just not having to be somebody all the time.”

~ Ram Dass

I also LOVE to create in the kitchen, I’m a bit of a foodie but not much of a recipe follower. When creating trail food or pre/post hike meals I use the hashtag #whenhealthgoeshiking. I foresee one of my biggest challenges on trail is maintaining a balance of nutrition and a bit of indulgence.

I’m also slightly obsessed with AT thru-hike YouTube channels and have been playing around with one of my own. Now that my blog is up and running I’ll be posting here too. I want to share my story. I don’t know what that story will be, but I do know that it’s through our stories that we evolve and grow as a community. The Trek platform will allow me to connect with others beyond my day-to-day reach. It’s exciting to think I could inspire and entertain people I will never have the opportunity to meet. And maybe I’ll be of service in ways that would be impossible otherwise.

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Comments 6

  • Steve "Holiday" '19 : Nov 13th

    A few suggestions. You already discovered hammocks. Yoga is great, but add upper body weight lifting. Do several 18+ mile Hikes before you start. Start on a Wednesday; less people. Hike as fast as you can for 200 miles to get ahead of the bubble. Buy freeze dried meals in bulk and mail along trail. Get electronic copy of AWOL guide and pay for farout. Alcohol tuna can stoves are lighter and easy to use. Focus on protein and fat in your diet for personal health and calories. Carbs are easy and draining if you don’t get enough protein.Live without morning hot drink to get on trail. Set noon objective; first 10 miles then more. Stuff your face with protein when you get to trail town. Good luck

    • Tara Graham : Nov 14th

      Hey Steve thanks for the suggestions. In addition to Yoga I do upper body weight train 3x week as well as carry my loaded pack. I’ve done dozens of 18+ mile hikes. I’m not focusing on getting ahead of the bubble, I think I’ll eventually out pace it. Plus using a hammock makes it easy to avoid the crowded tent sites and shelters. In addition to freeze dried meals, I’ve dehydrated my own meals and will mail packages. I have FarOut. I’m happy with my MSR Pocket Rocket. My nutrition certification gives me the education for making the best choices for personal health goals. I agree – adequate protein is essential. I’m an early riser naturally. Thanks for the good luck wishes. Cheers!

  • The Bear : Nov 13th

    Hi good luck .PS you will burn about 5000 to 6000 Carbs a day . PS h
    Hammocks were real big 10 to 12 year s ago . But have since with the way of the mold T ford .VERY few people use them any more …….PS white mountains your about the tree line and not really any stealth camping and you camp on platforms …… or shelters that can be crowed with other hikers .

    Hi …you burn 5000 to 6000 crabs a day . And if your hiking the A T ….you can do all the hold trail on town foo

    HI . You’ll burn 5000 to 6000 a day . And you can do almost the hole AT trail on town food .THE BEST tip …try to get your pack base weight between 16 to 18 pounds .PS hammock were popular 10 to 12 years ago .but have since gone the way of FORD model T …… The whites Mountain your above the tree line and most of the camp site are platform .also the shelters tend to be very crowed .in July and august . HAPPY TRAIL YOU WILL HAVE A BLAST .

    • Tara Graham : Nov 14th

      Love my hammock system – it’s a keeper. I’ve spent lots of time in The Whites. My nutrition background gives me the confidence to make a choices for my bio-individual nutrition needs. Thanks for the vote of confidence – cheers!

  • Mike Gardner : Nov 14th

    With all due respect to the other comments, there’s a bit of misinformation. As for calorie expenditure, with all your experience you have a good idea. Many thru-hikers ate 3kc to 3.5kc and did just fine by limiting empty sugar calories and more protein/fat. Hammocks are not out of fashion. They’ve always been a small percentage of shelter types, and there are more makers than ever before. In my AT section hikes I’ve used hammock, tent, and both have pros and cons. Planning a flip flop thru in 24 and will hammock. Not that difficult in the Whites to hammock. Spots are around and at the worst might be away from the the huts.. YouTube Outdoor Adventures hammocked just a couple of years ago. A 1/8 pad from Gossamer Gear will help as a nap, yoga, shelterpad and a bit of insulation if temps are below your underquilt. Good luck and see you on the trail

    • Tara Graham : Nov 14th

      Hey Mike – thanks for chiming in! We have similar thoughts on strategies. I have a tent too (Durston X-mid) – just prefer a hammock, sleep better in it. I usually aim for about 3K a day for weeklong trips. I’ll target the 3.5K-4K range on the thru-hike. I’m about 5’5” and 130lbs so will be hard for me to carry (and eat) much more than that. I love my GG pad and use it for all the above mentioned – it’s perfect. Hope to cross paths next year. Happy Trails!!


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