Let me introduce myself*

* Disclaimer: this post contains throwback photos


Are you wondering whats up with the “howdy”? My husband is an Alumni of Texas A&M and “howdy” is their tag line greeting. When I first visited the campus I appreciated the warmth and friendly atmosphere that came with the “howdy” greeting so I have adopted it as my own go-to salutation. The same goes for the thumbs up which is A&M’s signature hand sign.


Serious Aggie fans here. I hope to finish my hike in time for football season!

About me

The basics: I’m a 26 year old living in East Tennessee and working as a lvmt (licensed veterinary medical technician) at a small animal vet clinic. I just got married this past June to my wonderful husband and married life suits me just fine. I have a lab mix, a yorkie, an orange tabby cat, and a clown fish. I live in a modest apartment and drive a manual truck. I like to listen to oldies country and top 40 hits. I like to watch The Daily Show and of course I am a fan of Game of Thrones (please no spoilers while I am hiking).

Bragging rights: I won DAR essay contests and Science fairs as a kid. I received the Gold Award in Girl Scouting. I have overcome a phobia. I have saved many animals lives and helped others cross peacefully. I have a A.A.S. and a B.A. I have cliff jumped of South Point Hawaii.

Becoming a thru hiker:  How does someone get to the point in their life where they decide to step away from everything that they have achieved and spend 6 months in the woods walking from Georgia to Maine? Well for me there were 2 defining moments in my childhood that planted the seed.

  1. I read a book titled Halfway to The Sky by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. This book is about a 12 year old girl named Dani who is going through a very difficult time in her life after her older brother dies and her father leaves her and her mother. Dani’s mother sinks into depression and to escape the reality of her life Dani runs away from home to the Appalachian Trail with the intention of hiking from Georgia to Maine. Growing up in a very outdoorsy family in East Tennessee I knew about the Appalachian Trail, but this book introduced me to the concept of a thru hike and I was hooked. I can’t recall much of the details of the story but I know that it was at this point that my mind was made up that I wanted to thru hike someday.
  2. I went on my first backpacking trip on the AT and met a real life thru hiker. I had a pretty bad ass childhood.  Not only was I a Girl Scout and went to camp every summer from the time I was 7, but my dad was a Boy Scout leader so I got to tag along with the Boy Scouts too. One of the trips was a 2 night backpacking trip on the AT and after reading Halfway to The Sky I couldn’t have been more excited. I was actually out backpacking on the AT doing what thru hikers do! Our group met and talked with a thru hiker and I knew I was in the presence of someone great. I found out what a trail name was and thought about what my own trail name would be. I read entries at the shelters logs from thru hikers about mice and bears and rain. This was my first real life exposure to the world of thru hikers.

Even as a first time backpacker, I new the importance of Nutella.



Trusty old Coleman tent. Luckily my dad carried this beast in his pack.



Hiding behind my dad’s pack is my pack, an external frame Kelty pack that was actually my brothers. It was just a little too big for me and left bruises on my hips. Didn’t phase me much though.


Me and a bunch of Boy Scouts ready for adventure.

About Jetta

Jetta gets almost all the credit for my second college diploma. During a time when I was struggling to find my calling in the academic world and was teetering on the edge of dropping out of college Jetta came to my rescue. My mom gets the rest of the credit because it was she who suggested I should design a thesis project that focused on dog training and actually adopt a rescue dog to train as a therapy dog. Hooray mothers!

The timing was perfect. After planning my thesis project I began looking for just the right dog just days into my search, as fate would have it, I saw a picture on Facebook of a stray dog that a friend had found wandering the streets. The dog was a lab mix and very timid and scared but showed no signs of aggression. She was medium sized and young and fit all my criteria.


This was the picture on Facebook. It was love at first sight.

During my last semester of college I worked extensively with Jetta to transform her from the skinny timid (seriously she was afraid of EVERYTHING) dog she was when I got her to the well adjusted fat and happy pup she is today. This was a win win because I graduated AND got the perfect dog I’d always wanted. Bonus- she loves hiking!


Enjoying the sun on the summit of Max Patch


Waiting patiently for camp to get set up








That about sums it up. If you would like to know anything else about myself or Jetta or if you have any questions for me I would be happy to answer them. I am very busy right now with just two weeks left until we start the trail but I am going to try my best to get a gear list and reasons I’m hiking up before I leave so keep an eye out for that.



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Comments 8

  • Nancy Bannon : Feb 21st

    Hi Sara,
    So excited for you and Jetta, You are such an inspiration to young woman! So proud of you!
    You rock! Will be thinking about you on your journey! I can’t wait to hike with you in NH and spend some time on the AT with you and Jetta!
    Love, Nancy

    • Sara Ecay : Feb 23rd

      I’m looking forward to it! I’m glad I will have some guidance through the unfamiliar terrain up north.

  • karla : Feb 21st

    Great post Sara. I know that you will succeed. I think Tyler’s a bit jealous that he cannot do it again this year. He had such a wonderful time, that even the bad/hard times are distant memories. Remember that as you start your adventure on the AT. I will miss you at work, but I will survive. Please let me know which kinds of nuts from the list you liked best and that is what I will be bringing to you on the trail. 🙂

    • Sara Ecay : Feb 23rd

      Thanks I will remember that for sure when the going gets tough and I will let you know about the nuts. Trail Angel at work 🙂

  • Hailey Hall : Feb 23rd

    Hi Sara,
    I also was inspired to thru hike the AT after reading Halfway to the Sky as a kid! I would love to hear more about your preparation for thru hiking with your dog. I was seriously considering bringing mine but talked myself out of it. I am starting my flip flop thru hike from Harper’s Ferry May 1st this year. Maybe I’ll see you out there!

    • Sara Ecay : Feb 23rd

      Awesome! I’m glad someone else has read that book. I’m looking forward to reading it when I return and experiencing it again as a successful thru hiker. Best of luck to you and perhaps our paths will cross.

  • PerryAnn : Mar 3rd

    Hi Sara-
    I work with your mom in the SP program and just saw her post your link. As an avid backpacker and someone who grew up with a dog training mom I felt an instant connection! I look forward to reading about you and Jetta’s progress – especially on the parts I have hiked in our TN/NC/VA area. I participate in a bit of trail magic near Laurel Falls, maybe I will see you there. Happy trails!

    • Sara Ecay : Apr 16th

      Thanks for the comment! I just passed Laurel Falls this past week and it would be an ideal spot for trail magic as I was pulling long days and there is some tough terrain around there. Thank you for your support of Jetta and I and the thru hiking community. We appreciate everything the trail angels do for us!


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