From Kate Spade to Katabatic

Hello, The Trek!

My name is Melissa. If you had told me a five years ago that I’d be planning to go live in the woods, I would have looked at you sideways.

Years before my first encounter with thru-hiking culture, you’d find me saving for the newest Kate Spade bag and oogling over the newest celebrity styles.

Cut to: Wild

Cue the groans from the thru-hiking community en masse. Yes, I am one of those girls who read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and was deeply moved by her story. I read the book in 2013, the year before I graduated from high school. It led me to learn more about thru-hiking and, eventually, the purchase of our lovely Badger’s book, Appalachian Trials,Β in 2014. I fell in love with the prospect of thru-hiking. Not just that, but an incessant need to do it. But, alas, I had no money, no time, and no support.

Cut to: Graduation

I recently graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in media communications. My last semester at school was spent in misery agonizing over the job I would be walking into post-grad. Long story short, I moved to Austin, TX, for a bit and then interviewed for my dream job in NYC. When I moved home and the job eventually fell through, I was lost. Everyone around me seemed to have everything together. I went back to bartending along with a freelance job online. Every day was the same.

Enter: Choose Wonder Over Worry

I had days free to read endless books from my local library where I found the gem, Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae. This book changed the way I think. Amber talks about the negative thoughts that our brains are wired to produce to protect us.

Some of them are good: “Buckle your sea tbelt or you could die in a car accident!” “Eat healthy or you may develop health issues!”

Some of them are bad: “Follow the path that everyone around you has taken or you’re a failure!” “Be scared of following your dreams!”

Amber helped me realize that my brain was lying to me. I didn’t have to be scared if my life looked different from those around me. I could follow my dreams and make my life what I wanted. So, I started planning my thru-hike in September of this year.

Present Day

The books that I’ve mentioned have been major players in what has inspired me to go on trail. However, there are many other factors…

  • The current political climate is increasingly exhausting.
  • I want to “find myself” in the woods. Not surrounded by constant stimuli.
  • The trail is there. Why not hike it?
  • I love a good challenge.

I’ve been in full prep mode since September. I have gone from Kate Spade to Katabatic. Entertainment Tonight to Enlightened Equipment. Big City to Big Agnes.

Thank you for being here to witness my transition into a new, wooded world of wonder. Say that five times fast… “wooded world of wonder.”

Wildly detailed gear lists and planning updates to come.

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Comments 13

  • Winslow : Nov 4th

    Wish you best of luck and truly find yourself

    • Jo Hamm : Nov 4th

      I applaud you for your courage to meet life and live it. In this way, you will learn to love it! I was a journalism teacher. We moved to the AT area 3 years ago to live in its beauty daily. Stop by to see/stay with us!

      • Melissa : Nov 5th

        Thank you! I appreciate the support so much πŸ™‚

    • Melissa : Nov 5th

      Thank you! Happy Trails!

  • BARBARA RAUCH : Nov 4th

    Mind over mountain! That was my last hike mantra. Your only transportation out of your hike is your feet. Take good care of them. I am a section. Hiker. The trail teaches you things you’d never learn in real world. Be sure to get someone to track you. Several apps worth purchasing that don’t need a tower. God bless you on your journey! Barbara

    • Melissa : Nov 5th

      What apps might they be? My mom and boyfriend are fairly worried about tracking me.

  • Woody : Nov 4th

    I’ve not attempted a Thru but, I’ve section hiked on the AT for over 30 years. Like me, it appear as though you enjoy reading. Two books which have helped improved my time on the trail and given me more confidence are:

    Trail Life: Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking by Ray Jardine

    Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips by Mike Clelland

    Have you or do you plan on a Shakedown Hike?

    • Melissa : Nov 5th

      I will definitely be checking out those books! Thank you for your recommendations.
      I’ll be doing a shakedown hike fairly soon before the weather gets too nasty. I’ll do a post about that once it happens πŸ™‚

  • Rickie Cosentino : Nov 4th

    Good for you !!!!.. to many people let fear stop them from even THINKING that can do it…I have a strong feeling your life’s journey is going to be exciting and awesome..

    • Melissa : Nov 5th

      Thank you so much!

  • Deborah : Nov 6th

    Good for you!!! You’ll make it happen.

  • Nick : Nov 6th

    You will do great. The first few days are tough, as it takes time to get used to not having any luxuries. But once you get your mountain legs, you’ll be coasting in no time. I section hike with a good army buddy of mine, our motto is…

    Attitudes change with elevation- good luck

  • David Mizelle : Nov 10th

    Great post, Melissa! Love to hear folks’ reasons for embarking on this awesome experience. I’m NOBO in March, hope to see you out on the trail!


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