Music That Makes Me Feel: SOBO Days 28 – 31

What to even say about the last 30 miles of Maine? This section made me feel every, and I mean every, emotion that is humanly possible. And nothing quite amplified that human emotion like music.

As I carefully scurried up the rock slabs leading to the peak of Baldpate Mountain, I had headphones in, blasting upbeat music as a backtrack to a beautiful day. I was sweaty and tired but happy and feeling challenged. The line “Divine feminine. I am feminine.” chorused through my headphones and hit me hard. This post is dedicated to songs that have brought me to tears, happy and otherwise, while hiking.

Woman, by Doja Cat

“Divine feminine. I am feminine.”

Hiking alone ahead of my so-called “tramily”, this song started playing as I approached the treeline on Baldpate Mountain. I am the only female in a group of all men, which is relatively common on this trail, and often in my professional and academic life (as a female engineer). While this song has controversy surrounding it’s female empowerment, this line felt empowering in the moment. It encapsulated for me that you can embrace your feminity even in male-dominated spaces. It felt empowering to be reminded, as a woman, I can do this, I belong in this outdoor space, I can and I will climb this mountain. Cue tears.

Home, by Phillip Phillips

“Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road”

This song was popular early in my high school years, so it already wins some points with its nostalgic value. But, add to that dozens of miles since your last shower, challenging but beautiful trail, slight dehydration, and a sunny day…wow. Why does every song that mentions a road or a path seem to hit different in the woods? These lines in Home almost felt like the AT speaking to me, telling me to keep following its blazes through trails and forests and states that I’ve never been to before. Warm and fuzzy explorer feelings.

Could Have Been Me, by The Struts

“I wanna live better days
Never look back and say
Could have been me”

I consider this song to be a personal anthem. I love the energy of the song, demanding more than a life lived trying to keep up in the rat race. For me, the Appalachian Trail is another way in which I’m demanding more from my life…more adventure, more meaning. Numerous adults in my life have told me, “Wow, I wish I could have done that” with regards to hiking the AT. These kinds of comments solidify for me that I needed to take this opportunity in my life, while I’m healthy and able to do so. No regrets, just feeling powerful and grateful.

Ends of the Earth, by Lord Huron

“To the ends of the earth, would you follow me?
There’s a world that was meant for our eyes to see”

In my defense, I thought Lord Huron was elite trail music BEFORE I watched A Walk in the Woods. Bill Bryson made it mainstream. Regardless, I stand by the opinion that something about Lord Huron’s album Lonesome Dreams was made for thru-hiking. The music feels like it was hand stitched from the emotions felt when you’re climbing a tough mountain, reach the treeline, and look over your shoulder at the vast wilderness. Thanks for making a good moment a great one, Lord Huron.

Yellow, by 20syl


This song was made for the flat sections of trail when trekking poles are flying, legs are cruisey, and pine needles are cushioning your feet. With your arms out, you mentally twirl around and feel the warm breeze tickling your body. Speechless, just like the song.

Breathe & Release, by Riley Pierce

“Oh, I’m a bird
I don’t know how to fly
Just trying to make it to the other side”

I have a brief 16-minute playlist that suits the specific energy of deflating my sleep pad, shoving my quilt into my pack, and pulling on already-sweaty hiking clothes. This song is on that playlist, along with at least half of the other songs Riley Pierce has recorded. I like this line in particular because thru-hiking has been such a humbling, growth experience. Everyday, I learn something new about gear, myself, the forest. And I think the “other side” is different depending on my current mindset — it could be the campsite, the nearest town, the next state line.

Gimme That Sunshine, by Animal Island

“Gimme, gimme that sunshine, sunshine
Gimme, gimme them good times, good times
Nothing, nothing but good vibes, good vibes”

I’m not sure if it’s the satirical value or relentless optimism, but this song always seems to get stuck in my head on rainy days. And even if the song doesn’t cue sunny skies, it’s definitely rainy day serotonin in musical form. Like runner’s high. On steroids. Right before I left for the trail, I read The Comfort Book by Matt Haig. One line read, “It is easier to learn to be soaked and happy than to learn how to stop the rain.” So, to all the NOBO’s who have to listen to be chime out a string of “happy trails” while skipping through puddles, just know that this is what’s going through my mind.

An Ode to Mahoosuc Notch

There is no song to summarize Mahoosuc Notch. Maybe because I was in the Notch for an hour and forty-five minutes, so any one song would have played over 25 times. But after the Notch, I put on some calming music and hiked the last few miles to camp. I’m reminded how music can calm you down, increase your excitement, exacerbate your sadness, or change your mood entirely, both on and off trail.

And further, there was certainly no song I could find to describe the emotions felt while crossing the border into my second state: New Hampshire. Any suggestions?

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Comments 2

  • Pinball : Aug 11th

    Full agree on Lord Huron, esp Lonesome Dreams. For a slight change, but just as great, try “LH’s Moonbeam.

  • thetentman : Aug 11th

    My favorite hiking song that ran in my head as there were no other methods around is Jerry Garcia’s ‘The Loser’. At least it was until the theme from Gilligan’s Island invaded my head in an Earworm. Worst day of my life. Be careful and good luck. Thx for the post.


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