Mindset Matters on the Appalachian Trail

I love typing up my daily journal entries. In fifteen years I will be able to remember the details of my thru-hike by reading these blog posts. I have started to fall behind on these daily entries since the cell service has become more scarce and I’ve been wanting to focus on being in the moment. So I am going to interrupt the day-to-day blog with a little real talk for you. I will of course continue to resume my day-to-day posts soon!

On top of Glastenbury fire tower for sunset.

Recently I have arrived in New Hampshire and have less than 500 miles left until Katahdin. While in Vermont, a lot changed for me mentally. I had left my home state of Massachusetts, and with three states left, it felt like I was almost done. I soon realized that I was in fact NOT almost done. The realization that I still had over a month left on trail washed over me and I started to think about the comforts of home life. All I wanted was a bed and cotton clothes. I spent my first few days in Vermont counting down the miles until I would get to camp and be able to climb into my sleeping bag. This made me dread hiking every morning and it started to feel like a job.

500 miles left to Katahdin.

After a lot of reflection, I realized this isn’t how I wanted the last month of my thru-hike to go. I want to enjoy this last stretch of my journey just as much, if not more, than the first four months of my thru-hike. As I hiked, I thought of solutions for my mental slump. I have started to implement these changes into my daily hiking routine. I have noticed changes both in my mood and my enjoyment of the hike. Although I will still have hard days where I cry up every uphill (yesterday was one of these days), I know if I put in a small amount of effort into changing my mindset, I will be rewarded with lots of positive outcomes.

Amazing views on Hike Naked Day (the summer solstice).

Nightly Goal Writing and Manifesting

Throughout my hike, I have been journaling every night. I started this routine because it made blogging easier. I have now found that it has other uses and benefits. After a really hard day of solo hiking, I found myself wanting a way to ensure that the next day would be better. I wrote this down in my journal and soon found myself filling up a whole page with goals for the following day. I wrote, “I’m going to continue to make an effort to enjoy every moment as well as be in the moment. Tomorrow is going to be an amazing day full of fun and challenging uphills. I am excited for the challenge of the four-mile uphill to the summit of Killington.”

On top of Killington.

Just that morning I had been thinking about how much I was dreading hiking up Killington. It was going to be my first four thousand footer since Virginia, and I knew it was going to be a hot and sweaty climb. By switching my mindset from dreading the uphill into looking forward to the challenge, I was able to change my whole day. With this new perspective, I enjoyed the climb up Killington.

By writing down positive manifestations I am able to remind myself that I really do enjoy hiking. I thrive off of challenges so instead of dreading them, I want to seek them out and enjoy them.

Dance Parties and Singing

This winter while I was stuck inside due to COVID I found myself having dance parties by myself in my bedroom. It was a way for me to get my energy out and lift my mood. I felt so silly dancing around by myself that it would usually end in me laughing at myself. My fourth day in Vermont, I was feeling down. I didn’t know what to do about it so I decided to have a dance party.

While in Vermont, I hit 1,700 miles.

Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” started playing and I began. I jumped around and screamed the lyrics as loud as I could. As the song came to an end, I instantly felt better. I felt the urge to laugh at how amazing dancing alone in the middle of the woods felt. I hiked on, with my sing-along playlist blasting in my earbuds. For the rest of the afternoon, I sang along to every 2000s pop song downloaded on my phone.

Although it may sound silly, dancing and singing like a five-year-old is one of the most reliable ways for me to change my mindset.

Photoshoots and Smiling

I love to smile. In almost every photo from the trail, I am smiling. Although these photos may make it appear that I am happy all the time, this is not true. I believe in fake it till you make it. For me, if I smile enough, I often start to feel happier. One day while I was bored hiking, I took out my phone and propped it up on a tree branch. I turned on the 10-second timer and began to take photos of myself while posing with my backpack and trekking poles. Every time the camera went off, I would put a big goofy grin on my face.

My favorite self-timer photo.

After spending fifteen minutes taking photos with self-timer, my mindset had changed. I was no longer bored and sad and instead enjoying my time being alone. Forcing myself to smile always lifts my mood and turns my mindset around.

Hiking through Vermont.

Vermont was full of ups and downs as well as lots of learning and growth. I am excited to bring these changes with me as I hike through New Hampshire and Maine and to the finish line of Katahdin.

If you want more timely updates on my thru-hike, you can follow my Instagram @duck.goes.hiking

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Comments 21

  • James A Morrison : Jun 30th

    Keep up the hard work. My wife and I are rooting for you to complete your journey. Be safe, hydrate.

  • Russ1663 : Jun 30th

    Good for you. The trail physically and mentally challenged you. You found your mental armor. Keep looking north, you will prevail. You smiled the day we met on the trail, keep it up. The fortitude you develop now will serve you well in college and in life. Trek on Spring.

  • Louis Dallara Fine Art Photography : Jun 30th

    Great post, hang in there.

  • JL : Jun 30th

    Amazing journey!

  • James Altieri : Jun 30th

    Good morning Hannah. You are such an inspiration to so many of us as well as a courageous young woman. Keep on trekking and stay healthy & hydrated!

  • Lysa Meyer : Jun 30th

    You are truly amazing. I so look forward to your post, you are doing the dream that I never did. Keep on hiking.

    • Tracie marie Surber : Jul 4th

      You are such a inspiration!! Planning on thru hiking the whole AT in 2 years and I love reading about your experiences!!! U will prevail!! I’m rooting for u!!!

  • pearwood : Jun 30th

    You are a wonderful goofball, Hannah. Those are some serious tan lines (burn lines?) in the fire tower. Delightful photograph. I hope you all turned around for a photo, just for the three of you to treasure (and to show your daughters some day). The mountain-top photograph is a lovely portrait.

    Even starting NOBO next February at the tender age of 71, I’m sure I can handle the physical challenge. It’s the mind game that will make of break the thruhike.

    Steve / pearwood

  • Julia K Woodward : Jun 30th

    You’ve got this, Goodman! Love the mindset tricks!

  • G. Andridge : Jun 30th

    Ever onward, attitude is indeed everything. Proud of you, Spring!

  • Wesley Wilcox : Jun 30th

    I have so enjoyed the blog and look forward to each post. Keep up the good work!

  • Allison Joyce : Jul 1st

    This post resonated so much with me. I’ve followed your journey from the beginning and have always been impressed with your positive mindset, but your laying it out like this is fantastic. Thank you for sharing everything you’ve shared, warts and all. I wish that I’d had your perspective when I was your age (nearly 50 now–my oldet daughter is just a few years younger than you are), but never too late to learn and find guidance from all sorts of places, eh? You are a remarkable person!

  • Jeanne : Jul 1st

    Awesome refection on mental preparation & management!

  • Eric : Jul 1st

    Keep up the great work Hannah! I always look forward to reading your latest blog! Your hike is such an amazing adventure! I know there are going to be tough days but you’re the best!. Cheering you on till the end!..keep blogging please!.. but most of all stay safe

  • Weather or Knot : Jul 12th

    Hello Hannah and congratulations on your progress to date. Pretty Impressive. So one more state – Maine. It starts off as a killer much like the Whites but once you hit the 100 mile wilderness is becomes enjoyable and the wilderness is beautiful. Keep is up and keep me posted. Wishing you the best- Bill.

  • Robin Clark : Jul 20th

    Hope you’re well and we get an update soon.

    • Hannah : Jul 21st

      Thanks for your comment!! I’m doing well, just taking a break from blogging in order to really be in the moment and enjoy my last two weeks on trail!!

      • Robin Clark : Jul 21st

        I’m so happy to hear that! Enjoy your time on trail. I’m rooting for you!

  • CAW : Jul 22nd

    ABSOLUTELY LOVE the Journalings from trail. ‘Fraid my age and health won’t allow me AT experience but have a short 600 miler with 50 to complete yet. LOVE outdoors and hiking world. It’s what our lives Were and NEED to Include!!!

  • RJ : Sep 12th

    You mention your last 2 weeks end of July,but I keep watching for a final post,I can’t find anything since hiking in VT, hope you’re well.

  • RJ : Sep 12th

    You mention your lastv2 weeks on July 21st in a comment ,but I keep watching for a final post,I can’t find anything since hiking in VT, hope you’re well.


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