It Will Test You Out There

The Past: Beginnings


McDill Point/Cave Creek Trail

The first time I went hiking nearly two years ago it was on the Pinhoti Trail. One of my sister’s co-workers offered up a piece of sage advice before we left. “Be careful. It will test you out there.” Those words have followed me on every hiking trip I have taken since.

From struggling with all the wrong gear and nearly washing away in our tent on that same Pinhoti trip, to cussing and crying my way up the Approach Trail, & seeing my first bear in the Smoky Mountain backcountry and exploding a Dr. Pepper in our tent at our campsite that night, thinking I had just made us bear food, his words remain true.

I'd like to believe that rock scared the bears away.

I’d like to believe that rock scared the bears away.

The Ultimate Test


Jacqui and I are closing in on our start date. For what has felt like an eternity, this has been something that we talked about, we prepared like mad for, and somehow has yet to feel real to me. Someone told me “it will sink in around Harper’s Ferry.” I’m not there yet.

I’d like to think about the halfway point but my mind hasn’t ventured far from my first few days on the trail.

My mind wants to scream “think about finishing, think about Maine, think about Katahdin” but I know I have to silence it. Don’t think about the Smokies, don’t think about Virginia, think about what you can do TODAY, now, this minute. Focus. Don’t think about the first 50 miles, think about the first 8. Instead I think about getting to see my best friend, driving to Georgia, waiting for this journey to finally animate and spring to life like Pinocchio.

My mind, my thoughts, and how to deal with the highs and lows that I know I will face soon are my priority.

The Present: Attitude, Altitude, and Adjustments

My life is now in a series of adjustments. Adjusting my gear, adjusting my schedule, adjusting my house, and adjusting my mindset.

I’ve poured and stressed over each item that will live on my back, weighed it’s worth in weight, usability, and comfort. And I’m getting ready to say goodbye to my home, my family, and a life that’s all too comfortable.

My family, too is adjusting and they too will have to find their own path. I’m leaving addresses for my mom, a physical marker for where my drop boxes can find me, to places I have yet to visit. I’ve made my husband lists and reminders to help him keep life on track when I’m no longer here to assist him with the daily to-do list.

The Future

The future starts here. Feet once again on top of Springer Mountain.

The future starts here. Feet once again on top of Springer Mountain.

As much as I yearn to hear from future me, let her tell me all the things the trail has taught her and all the people she has run in to, future me is a long distance away and Maine is still 5 million steps from Springer. She’s not spilling her secrets and I’m okay with that.

In 22 days, I’ll be a lot closer to knowing everything I’ve wondered about and seeing everything I’ve dreamed about. One thing is for sure:

it’s going to test me out there.

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