My ‘why:’ I am hiking this trail & not quitting

As I sit here writing this post I have a strong cup of coffee on my coffee table, it is lightly snowing outside, a cat sleeping next to me, and my Thru-Hike Planner from ATC in front of me. I wrote my last blog entry a month ago, which unveiled all my nerves and excitement for setting out on this trek in the spring. Since then: I have picked a start date, highlighted some key mail drop spots that I think will be helpful, ran a half-marathon (WHHAT, yeah I did), read through Appalachian Trials (it is just so good– thanks Zach!) for a second time, negotiated the possibility of returning to my *new* job after the trail, stole generously accepted more granola bars, read countless blog posts and followed most of the SOBO hikers on Instagram, and I have stared at my backpack for who knows how long.

Needless to say, I am making progress.

I am still so behind on where I think I need to be strategically at this point, but then again there is no set way to plan for this. So I am trying to just remain calm and trust that with patience, gratitude, and my stubbornness, I will be okay come the spring.

In Appalachian Trials, Zach invites his readers to make three lists: “I am Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail because,” “When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I will…,” and “If I give up on the Appalachian Trail, I will…” Well, Zach, I am going to tackle those lists right now. Let’s emotionally and mentally prepare for this hike!

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…

  1. I have told myself that I will do this, I have made a promise to myself.
  2. I need some serious one-on-one time with God, walking in the wilderness–the garden–will give me that time.
  3. I want to be with and serve the hiking community. I want to meet interesting people and share in this life changing event with them.
  4. I want to see the beauty of the mountains, and I want to earn every view.
  5. I have talked about this for five years to everyone I can think of–now is the time to do it!
  6. I am young, mighty, strong, and capable.
  7. I am ready to fall in love with myself and God again.
  8. I want to challenge and strengthen my mental, emotional, and physical being.
  9. I want to experience the thrilling nature of a thru-hike. (pun intended)
  10. God has placed it on my heart and in my head, and I can’t ignore it.

When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I will…

  1. Feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and gratitude.
  2. Be able to say my body carried me 2,189 miles from Georgia to Maine.
  3. Smile every time I hear the trail mentioned.
  4. Have a clearer mindset and heart with regards to my relationship with God.
  5. Become closer with my two hiking pals, forming an endless bond.
  6. Encourage others to grab a pack and head out as well, even if it is just for a day-hike.
  7. Appreciate creation and the creator more than I do now.
  8. Gain a tremendous repertoire of random-ass knowledge for future trivia nights.
  9. Feel strong.
  10. Find a new part of myself.

If I give up on the Appalachian Trail, I will…

  1. Regret it.
  2. Doubt myself.
  3. Disappoint myself and those excited for me.
  4. Miss out on a beautiful opportunity to challenge myself and explore who God created me to be.
  5. Fulfill all those negative and self-deprecating thoughts I store in my mind.
  6. Give up on a dream that I have had for 5 years.
  7. Feel incomplete.
  8. Have wasted the energy and resources that I cobbled together to make this happen.
  9. Be a quitter.
  10. Feel shame.

Just looking at these lists, I feel calm about the trail. I have done pretty much everything I have ever set my mind/heart to do, and this hike is no different. Getting caught up in the need to be someone or do something a certain way is my greatest obstacle.

I love the mantras offered in Zach’s book and through the trail “Hike Your Own Hike,” “Trust the process,” and the like, but I am going to set a goal for myself to develop my own mantra–one that is for me, to push me further and to live into the experience.

When I was training for the half-marathon, people asked me my goal time for the race… my response was this: “I have three goals: 1) finish the race 2) not to have a mental breakdown midway through the run and 3) not be picked up by the sweeper van. I don’t care if I have to crawl over that finish line… I will finish.” I finished that race. I had a minor/internal/no one really noticed breakdown at mile 7. And I was not picked up by the sweeper van.

I can hike this trail. One step at a time. One cold rainy day at a time. One beautiful and breathtaking view at a time.

I will hike this hike and I will stand on Katahdin with a huge smile on my face and know that I am capable to do anything.

Now, I need to print out these lists and put them on my mirror and remind myself that I WILL HIKE THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL.

In Peace, friends.


Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 4

  • Zach : Oct 28th

    Beautifully done, Alli. I hope (and believe) this will serve you well in your journey.

    • Alli : Oct 30th

      Thanks Zach!

  • Noelle : Oct 30th

    Alli, thank you for this post. I enjoyed reading your lists. I’m pretty sure yours is the first thru-hiker/potential thru-hiker’s blog post I’ve ever read that says that anything about God. God has put a thru-hike on my heart and in my head as well, and I love hearing that God has said that to someone else too! I have no idea how I’ll accomplish mine or when (or for Heaven’s sake, WHY), but I’ll do it. 🙂

    • Alli : Oct 30th

      Noelle, that is so good to hear. My hike has so much to do with God that I can’t separate this hike from my relationship with God–and not mentioning that feels incomplete. I hope you do hike one day 🙂 Keep me and my team in your prayers, we will surely need them.


What Do You Think?