As Thru-Hike Nears, Excitement Grows But Worries Linger
What started as “hey, that sounds fun” has transitioned into “oh my gosh, I’m really going to do this and we leave when?”
It’s been over two years since my son asked me to hike the AT with him. He wanted to leave as soon as he graduated college and I would be retired. Our plans were to hike SOBO the summer of 2017 but life threw us a curve and we will be hiking NOBO with a start date of mid-February and a target end date of July 1. Yes, ambitious I know.
So much has happened since that original idea and it’s been a steady progression forward. First we went on a three-night backpacking trip with a friend who is a thru-hiker. My husband outfitted me with all his 1970s gear and off we went into the Cohutta Wilderness. I learned a lot and loved it. So as soon as we got back I started buying my own gear.
I did a lot of research, watched for sales, and started my own collection of gear. First a backpack, then a tent and sleeping bag. Next on the list, a water filtration system, stove, and all the little things that add up to more money and more weight.
We went on another hike into the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness to test all my new gear. This was one hike not to be forgotten due to the cold, constant rain, and killer hills. Another learning experience for sure.
Finally, my son said let’s do this, I’m ready to go. Now our research started on the hike itself. I laid out a plan, miles to hike each day, resupply stops, etc. Although my plan will probably only last the first day it still gives me an idea of when we may be finished.
Now it’s time to tell people I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail. The question they usually ask is, “Are you excited?” My response: “I’m scared, nervous and excited – it’s a mixed bag of emotions”.
There are fewer than 30 days until we leave and so many questions run through my head. Am I going to be warm enough? Do I have all the right gear? Am I bringing too much? Am I going to look like the dork with new gear? Who’s going to feed my husband, can he really survive on Little Debbies, pot pies, and frozen burritos? How far will I make it? Will I finish? What about snakes? I hate snakes. I could go on and on.
So am I excited to get started? An astounding yes, but I’m everything else too. So at 3 a.m. when I wake up (anyone older knows about the 3 a.m. wide awake think time) the questions, concerns, and emotions run through my mind. So excited to go and sad for what I’m leaving behind. Am I crazy and taking this too seriously or do others have questions that play on their mind?
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