Let Me Introduce Myself

My name is Ashley Vines. I’m 32 years old and am FINALLY embarking on the adventure of a lifetime- thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. All five million steps of it.

Brief background:

My sister and I on one of our many hikes we took as kids.

As stated in my bio, I grew up in western NC but have lived in Wilmington, NC the past 14 years. I grew up climbing trees, riding horses, and daydreaming of all the places I would travel to when I grew up. I’ve always been a bit of a free spirit in that sense.

For the past 10ish years, I have worked in EMS whipping around Brunswick County in the boo-boo bus, loving *almost* every minute of it. Recently though, I decided to take a step back, drop down to part-time and get a job serving beer at a local brewery.

Also, I decided to get my yoga instructor certification and then leave to walk in the woods for six months. So there’s that. (Side note: who says a mid-life crisis has to happen at “mid-life” OR that it has to be a crisis?) I like to think of it as my awakening.

Why would you want to walk in the woods for six months?

I’ve heard this question quite frequently since announcing that I would be hiking the AT, but my answers can never fully describe why I want to do this. Everyone has their reasons for attempting something like this but to keep it simple, point-blank: I NEED to walk in the woods for six months. I NEED to set out after huge goals like this.

Hiking the AT has been a goal and my ultimate dream for the past ten years. I bought my first thru-hikers companion book in 2013, followed by 2017, 2020, and now 2022. I think it’s about damn time I get to put one of them to use.

That being said I’d like to throw out my “lists”:

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…

  • I want to separate myself from the stresses of everyday life to gain a broader perspective on the direction of my life.
  • I want to gain confidence in myself and what I am capable of.
  • This dream was placed in my head many years ago and I feel the absolute need to go.
  • If I were on my death bed I would feel extreme regret for never attempting this. (Seems dramatic I know, but it’s true)
  • I want to allow myself to experience a simpler lifestyle fully immersed in nature.
  • I need to build a better relationship with food and the importance of it as fuel.
  • I need to prove to myself that I am capable of standing on my own two feet.
  • I want to prove everyone wrong who has doubted me.
  • I made a commitment to myself to do this. No excuses.

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

  • Have confidence in myself and how strong I am.
  • Have achieved one of my biggest life goals.
  • Have a better relationship with food and sleep.
  • Know that I can accomplish huge goals like this even when everyone else doubts me.
  • Feel a deep satisfaction and appreciation of a simpler lifestyle.
  • Know more about myself and what I want out of my life.
  • Never doubt my badass-ery again. : )

If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…

  • Have let myself down.
  • Not gain any perspective on the direction of my life.
  • Not believe in myself.
  • Have given up on one of my life goals.
  • Have thrown away the opportunity of a lifetime.

So there it is. Out for the world to see. I hope you choose to follow along on my ~2200 mile journey north to Mt. Katahdin.



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Comments 23

  • pearwood : Mar 22nd

    Go for it, Ashley!
    Blessings on your way,
    Steve / pearwood

  • Dwight Locke : Mar 23rd

    Looking forward to following your adventures Ashley! You got this! ?

  • Galen Baker : Mar 23rd

    Good for you Ashley. I’m starting April 4th. Many of your reasons are also mine. I hope to meet you on the trail.

  • Dan Hover : Mar 23rd

    All the best to you. I’ve hiked some sections of the AT, always wanted to do a thru hike, but time slipped away. I’m 81 now, living in western NC . I’ll be with you in spirit as you travel.

  • Mama : Mar 23rd

    I have no words to describe my feelings. I’m so excited for you and scared for me. I’m so proud of you sweetheart. Love you ❤️

  • Cheerio : Mar 24th

    You go girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nathan : Mar 26th

    Wow! What a tremendous undertaking! I’m so envious and excited for you. I know you will succeed and I hope your journey will be every bit as awesome as you have dreamt it will be. Take care of your feet and don’t forget to pack some essential oils that you can use to help center yourself when times get hard – because at some point, they will! I will be thinking about you and cheering you on from Wilmington!

  • Laura : Mar 27th

    I read this and got teary eyed (go figure), happy tears though, because I am SO PROUD of my friend for taking the steps that she’s always dreamed of! It is truly inspiring that you are so brave to dream big and GO BIG! In the hardest times don’t forget you’ve got a team of people that believe in you, so suck it up buttercup, and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Love you so much ya tree hugger, happy trails bestie!

  • Cindy Vines : Mar 27th

    It’s going to be an awesome trip over the rivers and trough the woods. Seeing those amazing sunrises and sunsets, I pray God will be with you and keep you safe. I’m looking forward to reading your blogs throughout the AT.

  • Bethany Capell : Mar 27th

    You are amazing!! Day one is underway! I can’t wait to follow your journey and watch you succeed! I couldn’t feel more proud of you for going for the biggest adventure and dream of all.

    Love you and missing you already! Xoxo, Bethany (and baby Hudson)

  • Donna : Mar 28th

    I’m so proud of you Ashley. You already are the strongest person I know. Enjoy your experience and know that prayers are always with you.

  • Debbie Jordan : Mar 28th

    What an amazing journey you have embarked upon. I am so happy for you and have no doubt you will succeed at all the goals you have set for yourself.
    I know God will be shining on you with everything step. You will be in my prayers. Safe travels. Love you! Deb

  • Betty : Mar 29th

    Ashley, I am so excited (and nervous) to follow your journey. I am in awe of your courage and have every confidence God is beside you the whole way. So many people are praying for you. Since Sunday, I have stopped several times each day and night to wonder what you are doing at that exact moment. While praying for your strength and safety, I am also praying for you to find the peace and answers you are looking for. You got this, girl! Sending you love and hugs!

  • Judy : Mar 29th

    Here’s to your courage and a beautiful journey! You are amazing!

  • Tracy Effler : Mar 29th

    Ashley I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to see all your adventures throughout your journey. You have so many people cheering you on and I’m so blessed to be one of them.
    STAY SAFE and enjoy EVERY SINGLE minute ❤️

  • Jeff : Mar 29th

    We are rooting for you girl. Love and prayers from Florida

  • Lisa M Coffey : Mar 30th

    Ashley I will be praying for you as you continue your journey. Enjoy every moment.

  • Jonnie : Mar 30th

    May the Lord protect your every step. You will be in my prayers for safety and complete protection. – Jonnie

  • Roberta : Apr 1st

    Waiting to hear of your adventure so far. Knowing you are seeing, hearing, touching, feeling so much nature and living your dream! Prayers for journey with safety and love!

  • The Cheer Team at your Dental Office!!! : Apr 4th

    Way to go Ashley!!!! Your pics are beautiful! Be safe!

  • Christy Baldwin : Apr 13th

    We are pulling for you!! Looking forward to following your adventures from Lenoir. Post as much as you can so we can live vicariously. So proud of you for stepping out on a limb and going for your dreams.

  • Bob : Apr 18th

    You got this! One step at a time. Pulling for you all the way to that sign on that big ass rock up north! Be safe young Lady!

  • Chad : Apr 24th

    Keep doing your thing! Stronger… smarter…. Driven… to success!! Good Luck!


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