Why I Should Not Hike the Appalachian Trail

I know, I know. Why start with something so negative? Well, I just need to air out all my doubts and all the doubts that other people have about this adventure. Just remember, despite all these reasons, I am still attempting a thru hike in March of 2018 🙂

Ow and just a short intro: I am a tall Dutch 30 year old girl (woman?), that slowly but steadily became crazy about long distance hiking the last 5 years. Apologies in advance for the mistakes I will make in your lovely English language, but I am not a native speaker (just a passionate watcher of English tv and movies).

Reasons why I should not hike the Appalachian Trail:

  • Very injury-prone,to name all the hiking related ones: right knee (cartilage), left knee (muscle on the outside), left shoulder, lower back on the left. Just recovered from the left knee and lower back the last couple of weeks.
  • Mountains are not my favourite hiking areas: maybe it is because I am from one of the flattest countries in the world, but give me the sea or a river to walk by and I am very, very happy. Put me in the mountains and I grumble and groan.
  • Slow hiker, especially in mountainous areas. Going up? I am a snail. Wheezing and stopping every few seconds. Going down? Even more of a snail, afraid of ruining my knees again.
  • Not a big fan of heights: like I said, I am a snail going down. I try to reason with myself that there is nothing to be afraid of, thousands of others have gone before me, but it does cost me more energy than others without that fear it seems.
  • Fear of large mammals, mostly bears. Have never been close to one, never seen one in the wild, but the idea that they are as free as me walking around in the same area does not make me very relaxed.
  • Hate of continued wetness and dirtiness. Perfect combination to make me grumpy as hell.
  • Leaving behind a perfectly good job, great boyfriend and comfortable life. Why go on a crazy, uncertain, difficult adventure?

But you know what?

  • I am as stubborn as they come. I want to do this, so therefore I am doing this.
  • Physical injuries disappear and can be prevented: so that is why I am strengthening my body by working out more, following physical therapists advice, using hiking poles, trying out specially made insoles by a podologist and planning to do practice hikes as much as possible.
  • Mountains are growing on me: the reward of a view or having climbed a complete mountain is something of itself, something that river walks and seaside walking can not provide.
  • Even though I am slow, I am also a steady walker. I do not surrender easily and can walk for longer periods of time with no big problems. As long as I make it before Baxter State Park closes at the end of season, I am happy with my tempo.
  • Fear needs to be accepted: bears and heights are inevitably going to be there, I just need to figure out what way I can best accept that.
  • Grumpy I might get, but it also propels me forward. Just like positive energy makes me feel like I’m flying when walking, negative energy sometimes gives me a boost to steam ahead, whereby that negativity disappears after a while and just leaves behind strength.
  • The one thing I am completely sure of: I am never, ever going to regret going on this adventure, even if I need to quit the first week. I crave adventure and exploration and even the preparation provides with me so much joy that I know I will enjoy it. I will hate it too, but I will enjoy it more!

More positive posts will follow 🙂

 

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Comments 26

  • Mike Schrader : Sep 19th

    Wish you the best of luck God Bless safe travels.

    Reply
    • Mike Schrader : Sep 19th

      God bless and safe travels.

      Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 21st

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Paul from the Hill : Sep 20th

    Great that your going…
    A big dream it is for me.
    I wish u all the luck in the world xxc

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 21st

      Thank you! My dream is becoming reality, maybe for you too?

      Reply
  • MontanGal : Sep 20th

    I feel so much like you about many things, though I truly love The mountains and my Bucket List begins with hiking the AT.

    If you are interested in hiking with an older, 64, woman who is slow and new to backpacking, but am preparing and have equipment, PLEASE, PLEASE contact me.
    I have always been very active, an adventurer, a skier since 2013, a long distance walker, and have also always, since age 3, had serious heart disease! Bummer there but I manage it well and need no helo with this. I also have the ” Go ahead” from my Cardiac Team, much to my husbands2 dismay.
    Looking forward to hearing from you. I may only do a short section hike but that works for me. I’m happy with whatever I can do.
    Sandra

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 21st

      Wow Sandra, so great that you do not let your physical condition limit you in doing what you want! If you are indeed going through with your hike next year, it would be great to meet you! I have learned from experience that hiking on my own is the best way for me to hike my own hike, in the past I have exacerbate some injuries while trying to keep up with others. But do let me know when you are on the trail!

      Reply
  • MontanaGal : Sep 20th

    Sorry for my typing, or lack of typing on a phone, skills.

    Reply
  • Cricket : Sep 21st

    The bears are honestly more scared of you! Also just remember that the ability for you to see them means you are in a true wilderness!

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 23rd

      Intellectually I know that they are more scared of us, but emotionally I hope I can handle it 😉

      Reply
  • Alex Wedzinga : Sep 23rd

    Veel plezier! Mogelijk treffen we elkaar. Wij wonen in Zweden en mijn vrouw en ik lopen volgend jaar ook de AT. Wij beginnen half maart vanaf Springer.
    We lopen eerst in oktober nog de Compostella de Santiago als training.

    Groet Alex en Rommy

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 23rd

      Wat leuk om van andere Nederlanders te horen! Online heb ik weinig Nederlandse mensen kunnen vinden die de AT hebben gelopen, zou leuk zijn om jullie tegen te komen 🙂 De Santiago route heb ik in 2015 gelopen (Amsterdam-Santiago), heel anders wel, maar jullie gaan het zeker prachtig hebben!

      Reply
      • Gaby.leenders : Sep 23rd

        Wat een inspirerend bericht. Het lijkt me al tijden geweldig ‘m ook een keer lopen. Maar ja, ik heb veel, heel veel ruzaktochten gemaakt, zo vaak krijg ik onderweg een blessure en strompel ik voort of stop ik voortijdig en komt het regelmatig voor dat ik een enge passage niet durf te nemen. “De PCT zal ik dan vast ook niet kunnen” denk ik al jaren.
        Na jet lezen van Esthers verhaal lijken mijn bezwaren te smelten. Waarom het niet gewoon beginnen aan dit avontuur!!!
        Ik ben heel benieuwd naar je avontuur.
        Groet Gaby

        Reply
        • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 23rd

          Wat leuk om te horen dat je de PCT wilt doen Gaby! Ik had een blog van een Nederlandse gevonden die ‘m heeft gelopen (reiske.nl) met heel veel info, misschien is dat nog leuk voor je? En zoals je hebt gelezen, ik heb ook zeker twijfels of redenen om t niet te doen, maar uiteindelijk moet je sommige avonturen gewoon proberen. Veel plezier 😉

          Reply
  • Tangerine : Sep 23rd

    I started the AT in 2015. 33 years old and had many of the same fears, and injuries. I finished in ‘16 and want to hike it again! You will see amazing things and meet wonderful people! Happy Trails!

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 23rd

      Great to hear from someone finished the trail, despite having some issues as well! Makes me feel a little more secure doing this 😉

      Reply
  • Cathy : Sep 23rd

    I love reading all the stories about the adventures on the AT. I am 64 and walk/ hike a lot in Colorado. My friend and I talked about doing the Colorado trail as it is in our state. What is the best way to plan and train for long distance hikes? Thank you and good luck!

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 23rd

      Hi Cathy! I do not think there is a best way to prepare, for myself I found it very informative and comforting to read blogs, books and forums. As for the preparation, it is always good to get used to the weight of your pack while doing practice hikes. Building up your fitness is also never a waste. But in the end, I also believe in just doing it; the trail and its people will teach you a lot 🙂

      Reply
      • Art : Sep 23rd

        Let us know when you’re in the Roan mountain to big jump area. We hike there a lot. Live close by, on my opinion. One of the most beautiful sections on the trail. Good luck!

        Reply
        • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 26th

          Thank you! I have noted down the area, will keep it mind when I will go through it 🙂

          Reply
  • Scott Hughes : Sep 23rd

    Best of luck and hope to see you sometime next year.

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 26th

      Thank you! I am very excited for both the trail and the people 🙂

      Reply
  • Good luck. I may see you there. The bugs are bad, too! : Sep 24th

    Bad bugs in places, too! Good luck. I may see you there. Food is terrible, too.

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 26th

      Oh, that is definitely one thing I forgot: I hate, hate bugs, while they absolutely love me! I do hope the food is going to be good though, it’s one of my passions…

      Reply
  • Paul Boulay : Sep 24th

    The Northville – Lake Placid Trail, about 130 miles, might be more suited to your preference for flatter terrain, perhaps as a warm-up.

    Reply
    • Esther Burghouwt : Sep 26th

      Unfortunately I do not have that much extra time to do another trail beforehand, but I am definitely doing some training hikes here in Europe and the Netherlands. So hope that is going to be enough of a warm-up 🙂 But I will keep the other trail in mind for future endeavours!

      Reply

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