It’s a new year and I’m taking some risks.

To Begin

This year is about taking some risks – actually it’s a lifetime worth of risks because I’m not a “risk-taker”; I like simple and routine. This isn’t to say I’m not a maverick or bold, I just play-it-safe in life, which =’s B-O-R-I-N-G.  This is my first blogging post for “The Trek” and I will confess that have no idea what I am doing (and sometimes ‘why’ I am doing it). I find this foreign, complex and a little like being under-dressed in public. I am afraid of doing something irreversible so give me a wide berth before judging – eventually I hope to get into a groove.

About Me

As a 53 year old single woman and having lived between Vermont and New Hampshire almost all of my life and raised three children, the most ‘risky’ thing I’ve done is shave my head to raise awareness for cancer and kept it clipped at 1/4″ since.  Otherwise, Auto Pilot has been steering my life for a millennium leaving consciousness and ambition in a rusted state.

I’ve never wanted to through hike the AT, unlike many who claim it’s been a lifelong dream, but for several months now it’s been calling to me, pulling me in. It invades my day-dreams and gives me night-mares. I caved a few months ago and decided that before I die, the inevitability of which I’ve been looking forward to lately, I will sacrifice my dreary job and comfortably numb routine to go suffer in the woods in all manner of weather and conditions while exhausting myself marching along the East coast. When I shared this with a comrade, I got the most receptive response, a shot to the heart of my problem: “Do it. You need to learn to feel again.”

The Biggest Risk: Eyeballing the Journey

I have not yet set a date, place or direction because there are too many variables in my life right now and I am trying to chose the best way to ‘hike my own hike’: i.e. what will be most comfortable for me regarding weather, start and end date and congestion vs. solitude. The reality is that it will be a learning experience no matter when or where and I really don’t believe there is a ‘right way’ to do it.

Having read Appalachian Trials and many, many posts from “The Trek” as well as various other sources of information about through hiking, I think I’ve sifted all this down to one simple observation: it doesn’t matter if you pack minimally or with ‘extra weight’ for comfort items, are ‘in-shape’ or are using the hike to get into shape, have the most tech savvy equipment or obtained everything from yard sales, have prepared every day and detail or are just going to ‘wing-it’ ~ no matter what, if the entire trail is the goal, the only thing every hiker must bring is determination.

What I’m Packing

Determination is the one item I plan to use, use and reuse again because firmly planted in my mind is the photo of Grandma Gatewood with her sack slung over her left shoulder, kerchief, sneakers and skinny walking stick – who, at 67, completed the trail. No sophisticated hammock and quilts or wicking-tech clothes or fancy cook-stove or hiking boots and no pre-boxed, mailed food packages, etc. I might resemble Grandma Gatewood but I will have a backpack, a synthetic sleeping bag, a tent and a few other accoutrements ~ if not much else. To some degree, my risk involves a little under-preparedness – not by choice but by situation and timing. I just tell myself: we are all too accustomed to modern day comfort and I’m (sort of) looking forward to finding my mettle.

Next post:

A little more detail about me and my thoughts about through hiking, equipment and what I hope to achieve besides the summits at both ends of this ~2,200 mile journey.

~KC

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 13

  • Deane Giordano : Jan 19th

    Thank you for sharing so honestly, KC! I’ll be looking out for the woman with the shaved head and a pack full of determination…she sounds awesome. Keep sharing.
    Ruby Throat

    Reply
    • KC : Jan 21st

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Ruby Throat. It’s so easy to blather on (in writing) about thoughts and feelings but it’s rewarding to have someone appreciate and respond to what you’ve taken time to pour out and ‘publish’ (yikes!)
      I checked out your URL so now, if I see you, I should remember you!
      ~KC

      Reply
  • Val at 50 : Jan 20th

    Thanks for your honesty. I’ve been daydreaming about the AT for a few years now while sitting at my safe, well-paid desk job. The repetitive thought in my head is ” if not now, when?” Something about turning 50 with your kids nearly grown…

    Your post drew me in a bit closer. The sheer magnitude of where to start is a barrier to making the commitment. I’ll be eagerly following your journey. Wishing you tons of good fortune.

    Reply
    • KC : Jan 21st

      Hi Val,
      I’m glad you commented about your “daydream” and question; “if not now, when?”, because that is what my next post will be about.
      I hope you glean some enthusiasm or ‘resolution’ to start living your ‘daydream’ 🙂
      ~KC

      Reply
  • Sandra : Jan 20th

    KC & Val: Like you both, I am wanting to hike the AT but due to serious heart problems & a worry-wart husband, Section hiking seems to be the way for me now. Hopefully in 2017, but no real, solid date yet.
    I had a ticket to GA & all gear ready & was going to do 5 days last year (2016) but the few days b4, the hubby wore me down & I didn’t go. So, I am back on track & can hopefully find a section hiking buddy for my husband’s peace of mind. This has been a dream of mine for many years & I must do this before I am too ill to do it.
    Hang in there & go with “your” feelings. You are strong, brave & beautiful women. Wishing the best for you both when you set out. You’ll know when & where & which direction…it just comes to you. Proud of you both & best of luck. I hope to read your blogs & to post my own one day soon.

    Reply
    • KC : Jan 21st

      Sandra,
      I hope you are able to fulfill your long, overdue goal and there’s nothing wrong with section hiking – be proud of yourself for getting out there.
      Have you considered getting in touch (email) with AMC chapters along the coast and finding people to hike with in their local areas? I don’t know where you live but that might be worth looking into, especially for section hiking. I am certain that AMC hikers would love to help you reach your goal by taking a day or two and hiking with you!
      ~KC

      Reply
  • Keith : Jan 22nd

    KC- Excellent post. It does my heart good to see other 50-something’s out on the trails. Looking forward to reading your posts as you conquer the AT. Regards. Keith

    Reply
    • KC : Jan 22nd

      Thank you Keith! Are you currently or planning on doing the AT?
      ~KC

      Reply
  • Tricia E. Bratton : Jan 22nd

    thanks for your post and for the inspiration, KC! I am going to be 60 this year and my plan is to flip flop the AT in 2020, after I retire. I am a planner so am gearing up for it, already! I had wanted to do it when I was younger but set it aside, and then, after the sudden death of my husband, I became obsessed with the idea. I have read at least 9 books about the AT! I am doing a five day hike along Hadrian’s Wall this summer and maybe another long one later in the fall.

    Good luck to you on your venture and it’s great that you are heading out!

    Reply
    • KC : Jan 22nd

      Thank you Tricia for your comments! Congratulations on your upcoming hike in England!! I hiked for 10 days in Ireland and it was beautiful. I hope you have a wonderful trip! It’s so exciting. I am imagining that, once I’m done the AT, I will be forever a nomad.
      Happy Trails and I’d love to hear about your adventure.
      ~KC

      Reply
  • Linda Vance : Jan 22nd

    I probably will run into you somewhere, and given that you are VT/NH, I bet you are a friend of a friend. I’m thinking a Harper’s Ferry start myself. Supposedly I have a hiking partner, who I have yet to meet, and we agreed to Waynesboro, but I have this feeling that her husband’s headaches are going to derail her.

    It’s funny. I did start the AT in 1974, as I said in one of my posts, and it is, in that way, unfinished business. But I never felt the need to do it until last year when I was trying to figure out WTF to do when I retired, and it came to me as a good idea and so I kept it. Mostly I figured that if I started somewhere in the middle I would be in Vermont in June, and what kind of crazy doesn’t want to be in Vermont in June? Shit, Vermont in June was what kept me in Vermont most of my adult life. And now I’m not even retiring (I got offered a good long break if I agreed not to). So now I am doing it because I’m doing it. But like you, I really can’t pretend it is any kind of life-long dream.

    I do get the numb thing. I haven’t felt it in a long time myself, but I remember what it’s like to stop feeling because to do a job that exposed me to people’s pain day after day after day gave me two choices: cry and never stop, or go numb (but with a caring face). Here’s the good news: feeling comes back quickly when you open to it. The day I cried when I saw a newspaper in the rain on a driveway, looking so forlorn, I knew I was on the right path. Balance takes a little longer, but feeling will come back fast.

    Reply
  • Lynette : Jan 24th

    This is my dream… to thru-hike the AT. I am 57 years old, out of shape, out of breathe most days but will not let this stop me. I am a can-cer-vivor. I’ve fought cancer over the last 4 years and finally have to take back my life. Do things my way. I’ve slowly been acquiring gear. Not top of the line as funds are limited but good quality all the same. I just want to tell you your blog hit home for me. Your honesty so inspirational. Thank you. Good luck on your journey. I hope I can one day announce my start.

    Reply
  • Karma : Jan 27th

    Excellent decision! I’m feeling the same call as you. My 50th birthday present to myself is a yo-yo of the Superior Hiking Trail this summer. If that goes well, I’m looking at the AT at some point before I’m 55. I’m looking forward to your posts as you move towards your goal.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Linda Vance Cancel reply