My Lists for Mentally Preparing to Thru-Hike the AT

Preparation is key for any thru-hike. When I started to research and agonize over gear, I had no idea that mentally preparing for a thru-hike was even a thing. Fortunately, I stumbled across the gem that is  “Appalachian Trials.” This book is a great tool to get you thinking about why you’re hiking the AT, what you hope to get from it, and how you will feel if you give up on your goal.

So, without further ado, below are the three key lists that will help keep me motivated on those inevitably crummy trail days.

I am hiking the Appalachian Trail because:

–I want to disconnect to reconnect. I’m not under the illusion that technology is absent from the trail. But I think being away from an inundation of social media, advertising, and marketing will help me reconnect with myself and my priorities.

–I want to meet new people and make new friends. One aspect of the trail that I am especially looking forward to is the variety of people on and around the AT.

–It will be an adventure and a challenge. It’s definitely the craziest thing I’ve ever set out to do.

–It will allow me to see new parts of the country in a way I could never anticipate. Fourteen states!

–Being outside is good for the soul. What better way to spend the next six months?

When I successfully thru-hike the AT I will:

–Be more confident and unafraid to show it.

–Be a reputable BAMF who can do anything I set my mind to.

–Be a more grateful person.

–Have a new lens to understand people and life.

–Have a better understanding of what is important to me and what my priorities in life are.

–Have a unique perspective of the eastern side of the U.S.

–Be able to put a showstopper on my resume.

–Have accomplished an amazing challenge.

–Have FANTASTIC legs. Because let’s talk about what is important. Just kidding. Sort of.

If I give up on the AT I will:

–Never live it down.

–Have proved the doubting, naysaying, skeptical haters right. How awful would that be?

–Be ashamed forever. How do you spell haunted?

–Doubt myself and my abilities.

–Become a meek pushover who gives up on everything.

–Be branded a quitter.

–Have missed out on the experience of a lifetime.

–Have wasted more than nine months of my life.

–Be disappointed and saddled with a huge regret.


I know what you’re thinking — dramatic much? No. I’m really not. I do not want to wear the cone of shame.


The most consistent piece of advice that I’ve received from those wiser than me is to follow your dreams now. Don’t wait for the “right time” because it doesn’t exist and there are no guarantees. The only one who can make your goal happen is you. The saying to hike your own hike is a mantra for more than the trail, but for life.



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Comments 6

  • Dogwood : Mar 7th

    Don’t go out too fast too hard or too long. If you’re new at such a long hike patiently allow yourself to trail evolve. Know, LD hiking is not just about hiking. Let LIFE happen, let it in. Embrace the journey the adventute.

    • Hanna Espie : Mar 7th

      Such good advice, thank you Dogwood!

  • Dogwood : Mar 7th

    One more thing. You seem young yet wise having the insight to know a LD hike can be an ideal opportunity to disconnect to reconnect. When we take ourselves out of our cultural and personal comfort zones we open the door to sober awarenesses not yet experienced.

  • Justin : Mar 17th

    Go Hanna!

  • Scott : Mar 30th

    way to go Hannah, a dream, a reset, i look forward to reading your adventure….i dream of one day being able to disconnect and travel the trail. Godspeed.

    • Hanna Espie : Mar 30th

      Thank you for reading, Scott! Happy hiking


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