One Month(ish) on the AT – Lessons and Milestones

A Few Accomplishments

I started! This may just be the biggest accomplishment of all.

Crossed into North Carolina. One state down. Woohoo!

Made it 100 miles and enjoyed a few brews at Lazy Hiker Brewing in Franklin, NC. Also got treated to a free pancake breakfast at a church. They took our photos and mailed them out along with letters we wrote to our families.

Enjoyed a sunset and sunrise at the 200-mile mark with great friends. It was one of my favorite days on the trail so far.

Hit 300 miles and feeling very accomplished!

And of course a few of trail magic moments… orange juice!

We Learn, We Grow

My first day on the trail seems so far away. I feel like a different person. This may sound a bit hyperbolized, but it is the absolute truth. I have gained humility and confidence—two qualities I once believed canceled each other out, but now see as equally vital components of being a successful thru-hiker. Out here there is no place for ego. I learned very quickly that no question should go unasked—always seek out answers to whatever you’re unsure of. Be open to the idea that everyone comes out here with a different skill set. Help others when you can and seek help from others when you need it. I have found that adopting this perspective benefits not only yourself, but the entire trail community.

Friendship Is Never Far Away

If solitude is what you desire coming out here, companionship will be something you will have to actively deny. Friendship is an almost inevitable part of the trail and I have zero problem with that. When you’re out here facing the elements, having people to spend time with is the sweetest of feelings. However, the nature of the trail is that these connections happen as quickly as they fade—mostly a result of different paces and hiking styles. It’ll be hard to leave that crew that makes you feel comfortable and loved, but sometimes you have to listen to what your body is telling you and that may mean speeding up or taking an extra zero. That being said, you never know when you’re going to see that person you befriended on day two and it will be the most joyous of reunions—even if you did only know each other for 16 hours.

Go With the Flow

Things will not go as planned. This is as true of real life as it is of trail life, but perhaps a bit clearer to see out here. Your decisions are heavily influenced by factors that are out of your control—weather, sickness, lack of morale. There will be days that you push 20 miles and feel on top of the world and days that you are struggling to finish ten. I often have to remind myself that this is not a reason to give up or feel less than, but instead a natural element of a thru-hike. At this point, 300 miles in, I have realized that nearly every plan I’ve made has changed throughout the day and sometimes within an hour of making the plan. Long story short, I don’t do much planning anymore. I just hope for the best and do what I can with what I’m given. In this moment, I feel I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. Perhaps all the twists and turns the trail has taken, figuratively of course, occurred just so I could gain a sense of comfort in life’s unpredictability.

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Comments 4

  • Randall Blass : Apr 22nd

    Get it girl!!! Love seeing your photos and reading your journal. We are all so proud of you.


  • Adam : Apr 24th

    Loved every word! I to wish to find what you have this far. I am working on residual income so that way I may hike till I go home! Lol keep going and feel free to share anything with me as well!

  • John Mathews : Apr 25th

    “Your decisions are heavily influenced by factors that are out of your control—weather, sickness, lack of morale. ”
    I hiked for a number of years, years ago, but changed over to canoeing. I did and liked several long haul canoe trip, 300-350 miles solo. Most people in everyday life do not understand how formative the lessons of such journeys and nature are and how it influences how one conducts their day to day life both then and afterwards. All the lessons I learned in nature still to this day drive how I live and function even if I’m in the heart of a major city.
    Hope you get to trek all you desire and all you need. Happy trails to you.

  • kathryn M vashro : Nov 16th

    i have wanted to to the AT for so long. this March i am pushing to do a thru hike… i would rather do it with another, but at this point, i might have visitors along the way. I am overwhelmed with all the gear, where to get it, getting so much advise. I read that the hike is one’s training ground so don’t no need to train before hand. I am confident in my walking skills for miles and miles. I have biked cross the country, but with a group. GREAT FUN! I am a bit scared of traveling alone as a older woman and have read too much about crimes and mishaps on the trail. I can push through that though.
    love you writings
    I don’t understand your writing about above tree line hammock camping. what did you do above tree line?

    thank you for this contact and hope we can connect


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