Pre-Trail Anxiety & Gratitude

In just 96 hours, I will have already made my first steps on my walk to Katahdin—and holy *bleep.* To say I am a mix of emotions is an understatement, as I am sure anyone is who embarks on this hike. I originally was going to make my third post about my gear, but I felt expressing my stress and blessings was more prudent. I said I was going to be as transparent as possible, so here it goes!

Jitters, Stress, Anxiety, and More!

My excitement and confidence have always outweighed my stress, up until this week. It wasn’t until Monday when reality set in that my doubts started to build. It’s been tough to feel excited these days when all I want to do is retreat into myself. The biggest struggle for me has been trying to accept the unknown of this process. I’m fielding questions like, “When will you finish? How many miles are you going to hike a day? What’s the weather going to be like?”  I don’t have the exact answers to these, and it’s hard for me to accept that I just don’t know. I truly have no clue what my days are going to look like or what this journey has in store for me. Only about 20% of people successfully complete this thru-hike, and I just keep thinking, “will I really be a part of that 20%?”

All of the unknowns have definitely shaken my confidence and put me into a funk. In keeping with my commitment, to be honest, I’ve struggled with bad anxiety for over a decade. I have specifically worked hard on honing in tools to cope and reduce. Being able to tap into these tools in times of stress is essential to my success. The biggest thing I’ve been doing is giving myself a whole lot of self-acceptance and empathy. Instead of trying to fake confidence and burying my negative feelings, I’ve been saying to myself “It’s okay to be stressed and nervous as you have every right to be. This is a huge change and it’s not always going to be easy and that’s also okay.” As all thru-hikers have heard, “embrace the suck!” One of my key anxiety-related tools is practicing gratitude, which brings me to my next section.

Feeling the Love

Despite how down I may be feeling right now, I am more thankful than I ever have been in my life. I have received an overwhelming amount of support from family, friends, coworkers, and even from strangers. I have been lucky to not have anyone express doubt in my capability to finish. Instead, people have risen me up and have shared their confidence in me to complete this hike. It’s hard to find the right words to express all my gratitude to everyone in my life. I’ve found it very constructive to have open and honest conversations with my friends this week talking about my anxiety. Each conversation has left me feeling luckier to have these people by my side.

I know that I couldn’t have taken this on without everyone’s kind words of support. I’m especially thankful for my wonderful and incredible parents. They’ve been on board every single step of the way and haven’t doubted me once. I know they’re worried, as every parent would be, but they haven’t allowed their fears to deter me. I know this is scary for those who care about me, and I will never take your love for granted. These past few months have shown me that there is still so much wonderful and good the people of this world have to offer. So THANK YOU to everyone who’s already with me and to those who I will meet in this next chapter. I will forever be grateful for all you have done and continue to do for me. And to those who are struggling with anxiety, you most certainly are not alone!

*Please remember to donate to my hiking for a cause with Global Grassroots*. The link with directions is here:

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Comments 5

  • pearwood : Feb 23rd

    Hi, Annie!
    I am restarting my NOBO on March and am similarly engulfed in anxiety. See you in Harpers Ferry.
    Blessings on your way,
    Steve / pearwood

  • pearwood : Feb 23rd

    On March 8.

  • Scott Naucler : Feb 23rd

    The thought of walking 2000+ miles can be very overwhelming. You really only need to think of having to walk from one road crossing to the rest. Live in the moment. Keep your plans flexible, and be adaptable. When hiking the entire trail seems daunting, just think about walking the next 10 steps. When you finish those, worry about the next 10. Just keep doing that when you are feeling overwhelmed. If you worry about the whole 4 or 5 million steps at once, yo will likely freak yourself out. That is just human nature.

  • nancymvy : Feb 24th

    I have never done a thru-hike but I would imagine it is totally normal to be anxious, especially right before you leave. I’m sure you will do great and get into a rhythm once you start! You got this!

  • Zach : Feb 25th

    The pre-trail jitters are a good sign! Means you’re acclimating to a feral lifestyle. Happy hiking!


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