Last Minute Jitters and Remembering the Whys

I have less than a week to go until my start date, and I’m doing everything I can to try to make the start of my hike go smoothly.

So far, that basically means running around in a mild panic trying to get last-minute things accomplished. I’ve already left my home state of Wisconsin and packed away everything that I hopefully won’t need in the next few months. I’m spending the week before my thru-hike at my boyfriend’s house in Nashville – he’s going to be hiking with me for the first 40ish miles to Neels Gap. All of my gear is currently spread out on the available floor space of his guest bedroom.

My going-away cake. Bears weren’t an option, but I’ve always liked foxes better anyway.

My List of Things to Do

–Switch phone service to Verizon in hopes of having enough service to not worry Mom.

–Figure out what food to bring for first few days.

–Take requisite Tetris gear picture.

–Check weather forecast (again).

–Make a pot cozy?

–Search for any advice ever given online about any aspect of thru-hiking.

–Obsessively read first 20 pages of guidebook until basically memorized.

–Try blogging from my phone (so far, so good).

The weather for Amicalola Falls next week. Probably some rain, but at least above freezing.

I’m Trying to Slow Down and Relax

I know that if I don’t accomplish any of the things on that list, I’ll still be OK. Amid all the lists of things to remember and people to say goodbye to and piles of gear, I want to take some time to remember why I’m heading out on the trail in the first place.

Like many potential thru-hikers, I read “Appalachian Trials,” and made lists of why I’m hiking and what I hope to get out of a thru-hike in an effort to prepare mentally for the trail.

So, here are those lists.

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because:

–I want to want something so badly that I’d do anything to get it.

–I want to prove to myself that I can follow through with decisions.

–I want to push myself physically in a way I never have and get really fit.

–I want to do something awesome that most people don’t get a chance to do.

–If I start a career, I may not get the same chance to get away from normal life.

–I need to get away from my phone and computer and TV.

–I want to see a different part of the country.

–I want to learn to rely on myself and know that I can handle anything.

When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will:

–Be so, so proud of myself.

–Have legs and lungs of steel.

–Get a really cool certificate.

–Be very comfortable with myself and with being alone.

–Have developed a lifelong love for backpacking and hiking.

–Know that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

–Be able to embrace the suck and appreciate the good stuff.

If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will:

–Not know if there’s anything I really want out of life.

–Only have half a story to tell.

–Not get to see parts of the trail I was really looking forward to.

–Have put off starting a cool job for no good reason.

–Go back to doing the same things I always did.

–Be disappointed in myself.

–Have to tell others that I’m not as strong as I thought.

–Always feel weak, mentally and physically.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy my last few days of a real bed and readily available barbecue. I’m excited and terrified, and very soon, no matter how ready I am, I will be hiking. So I’m going to try to just take things one step at a time.

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