Memoirs of a Mountain Goat: A Thru-Hiker Introduction

An Unlikely Adventurer


How do I start? Why am I doing this? Who is this for? These are relatively difficult questions to answer at the beginning of a large project. I believe this blog/channel/thing, is a work in progress that will hopefully define itself as time passes. However, I’m doing this to share something meaningful with anybody who wishes to identify with my perspective.

I’m a small female in her thirties that has finally decided to give up on the ivory pedestal. I turn to living life for the adventure that I think it should be. A lot of things about my situation make my story unlikely, and a lot of things make it not-so-unlikely. You can decide that for yourself. I hope to discuss, candidly, the issues that someone of my size, stature, socioeconomic status, and other things, encounters when trying to adventure, as well as all the amazing things that adventures have to provide. I hope to review a lot of gear, rate the trail on a totally subjective scale, and provide visual references for the things that can be difficult to capture within the confines of the written word.

The Unlikely Bits

What’s unlikely about me? To start, I’m under 5’0, and I’m female. Height alone makes doing a lot of things more difficult (and some things easier, but not many). My stature is small and, to me, has little support or representation from the current outdoor industry. Finding gear that works for me is incredibly difficult, meaning sometimes I have to get creative for the gear I want.

Kids vs. Women’s

Being small situates me between two departments: kids and women’s. The kids department has its blessings in that it’s cheaper, but often at the cost of quality. Children’s clothing isn’t built to last.

Then there’s the shoes. Youth shoes are not built to support the weight of adults and their carried packs. This doesn’t even include the fact that my feet are two different sizes (which is probably more of a me problem than the rest of this).

My Feet, and shoes vs a pair of glasses and my husbands shoes

via Danyelle Stoppa





 The Woman Bit

Then there’s that Femme tag. As most of us have discovered, women’s fashion is the enemy, and sizing is a nightmare. Unfortunately, many of the struggles that women find shopping for clothes have a natural extension into the gear world; it seems to me that universal sizing across companies is nowhere to be found, or inaccurate at best. However, I digress, I just hope to reach those who wish to find solidarity in these issues, as it can feel so lovely to find a kindred spirit to commiserate with.

Oh, Canada!

Another obstacle I face has to do with my country of origin and the location of the hike; I’m a  Canadian thru-hiking internationally. This is a larger problem than people might anticipate, given the large, open border we share with the U.S. There are quite a few hurdles to clear in this attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail: postage, commute, medical coverage, money issues, et cetera.

The Acknowledgement

I’m lucky, and I’m privileged. Despite all the things that stand in the way of me doing what I’m about to do, I am actually about to do it. I have worked to embark on this amazing journey. The privilege of employment is something I’m extremely lucky to have had. Being born into a position that allowed me to espouse a proclivity for adventure is something I was also blessed with. I have the privilege of a supportive husband that helps me actualize my dreams. I’m privileged, in all senses of the word, and I’m grateful for it. Notwithstanding all the aforementioned barriers, I have still lived a life that has allotted me an opportunity to have this experience, and I am 100 percent grateful for it.


The Take-Away


I aim to make my memoirs concise and candid.

I aim to make any written content detailed, engaging, and navigable (In case you’re the type that just wants to get to the point)

Last, I make no promises. The lovely thing about adventure is that every bit of the experience, from learning, to preparation, to gear selections, food, packing, hiking, etc. etc., is completely and entirely personal and subjective.

But here it is, from a Canadian 30-year-old 5’0 female, with messed up feet, asthma, and a boatload of student debt, in a somewhat delayed quarter-life crisis. Much like a mountain goat, seemingly misplaced, this collection will detail how someone seemingly ill-fitted to her surroundings manages to thrive, despite first appearances.

These are the memoirs of a Mountain Goat.

Enjoy. Or don’t. It’s really your choice.

-A Mountain Goat… yet to be named


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Comments 11

  • Zoe : Apr 16th

    Thanks for posting! I’ll be following your journey! I’ll be on the trail soon too!

    • Mountain Goat : Apr 16th

      Thanks, that’s lovely. I’ll be flip-flopping; hopefully we cross paths.

  • Kelli : Apr 16th

    I feel your shoe issue.
    I am 60, 5’2″ and have kid’s size 4 wide feet.
    While I’m am not a hiker, I walk off trail a lot. LL Bean has some really nice kid’s trail shoes that I wear every day and to walk. I just reorder as they wear out as nothing else fits as well

    • Mountain Goat : Apr 16th

      That’s rough. As much as 5 wide is a hassle, I imagine 4W is even worse. Truthfully, one of my feet is a 4.5 but I just ignore that and deal with the blisters at this point.

  • Jan : Apr 17th

    I love your spirit, Danyelle. And your strength.
    In my own life, it has been my discovery that every adventure is like finding another spectacular seashell to add to the collection; but a treasure that magically creates growth, wisdom, and self reliance/inner strength. It is the experiences and the connections that are most important in life. I’m so thrilled that you are venturing out and adventuring. Love and hugs

    • Mountain Goat : Apr 17th

      What kind and lovely words, Jan. I agree, experiences and connections are everything. Let us both keep adventuring and connecting!
      Love and hugs back. 🙂

  • Linda Romano : Apr 18th

    I hope you can pull this off. Much stronger than me. I attempted the Appalachian Trail, didn’t get very far, my inability to sleep under the natural circumstances, and the long long long boring days led me to question why in the world am I doing this. I am deeply disappointed in myself, however this is a decision that I alone made. Don’t understand how I could have been so wrong about myself and my capabilities. I am female, was doing this alone.

    • Mountain Goat : Apr 18th

      Thanks so much for the support! I think I’ll be able to finish so long as I don’t suffer a crippling overuse injury. I’ve been an avid backpacker for years now with lots of experience on multi-day trips. While I know months are different than weeks, I hope the zeros will chunk the the sections into more mentally digestible/familiar segments. I’m also not doing this alone, I have the support of my amazing husband in this journey.
      I’m sorry to hear you had such a negative experience. On the same token I’m happy to hear you hiked your own hike and didn’t force yourself to be miserable for months. I imagine people learn lots about themselves on the trail; learning its not for you is just as valid in my mind.
      Thanks again for reaching out 🙂

  • pearwood : Apr 20th

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

    • Mountain Goat : Apr 20th

      Thank you! Imma go for it!!


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