Rain, Hearts, Trail Names, and Adventures to Come

On rainy days in Tennessee, I like to sit in my room listening to the pitter-patter of rain trickling down the roofing as I gorge my belly with excessive mugs of hot tea and mixed fruit. Music drums in the background like a soundtrack to my small, silent moment with the rain. As she reaches my window, wind howls against this old house. She breathes out age like a 100-year-old mountain, and then she climbs back into place.

As I love this song, I also yearn for the melody of the wilderness. Though the song is really a hum of an old familiar tune passed down from one generation to the next. It’s always on the tip of your tongue.

In 18 days, it will come back to me, and I will keep singing it for months to come, ingraining it in my mind. There’s not much planning left, but I’m taking refuge in abundant comforts these last few weeks. Friends ask what I will carry, how long I will be gone, and am I afraid? Why am I hiking 2,200 miles?

I am of the opinion that not all journeys and happenings require an explanation. However, if I was intent upon one, it would be this:

Why Am I Hiking?

I’ve always been one for ignoring formalities. I’m odd and bubbly and quirky. That’s me. And I revel in pushing myself to find my limits.

It’s always fascinated me the lengths to which we can be pushed. When I started hiking, my build began to look like a hiker. Isn’t that fascinating? That swimmers are built for swimming, runners are built for running, and hikers are built to conquer mountains? I’ve not always had the best relationship with myself, but that renowned sense of power over myself has made me feel stronger. I enjoy looking in the mirror and seeing the definition in my legs from trudging forward into the bush. I like that I can mold myself like clay and adapt to whatever I set my heart to.

I’ve allowed my anxiety to dictate many of my actions, and inactivity, in the past. In fact, I have let contentment become a home for much of my anxieties.

Among my favorite young adult fiction writers is John Green, who writes of life as a labyrinth that we intermingle our contentment with. Therefore, we spend all of our time dreaming of the moment we will break free, only to find ourselves trapped in the past, never to escape, and that “imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”

I have been surrounded by people, both content and busybodied, that have foreshadowed the outcome of both conditions. Although I do love the comfort of routine and stability, I have found myself becoming irritable. In a world of excuses, “maybe laters,” and can’ts, I choose liberation.

After all, why not? Can’t we have both? Why can’t I become contented in the routine of breaking barriers and forming new routines that stretch the circumference of my heart? Can we not broaden our minds by testing boundaries and also seek out comfort in those nostalgic smells, sights and sounds?

The Bucket List

Taking up something new doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on the old ways and wonders. I, myself, am an old soul, and a great deal of my identity is the result of my nostalgic longings. However, a long time ago I got tired of being told what I couldn’t do and how life was supposed to unfold, so I started a bucket list.

At first, this list was just a culmination of exotic aspirations to dote on. Now, it’s developed into a lifestyle. I think of it as a timeline, something I want to show the world is possible. The only problem is that it continues to grow, and now it weighs in at a whopping 225 adventures! So, I felt it was about time to get started.

Mostly it was perfect timing. After graduating from college, I aspired to join the Peace Corps. When that dream didn’t pull through, I decided to go back to college to obtain my master’s degree. Though, after thinking this over, I decided that settling down with a career and a home was not in the cards for me yet.

I wanted an opportunity to travel for a while and save money, so I completed an online certification to teach English as a foreign language abroad. Meanwhile, I began hiking quite a lot with William, whom is now my boyfriend. Around May of last year, we decided what better time to do the trail than now. So we began our preparations.

So here I am, sipping some tea while it rains, awaiting my next adventure where a mug of hot English breakfast might soothe my weary soul (and soles).

What Is It?

The Appalachian trail is approximately 2,200 miles, traveling from Amicalola Falls in Georgia to northern Maine. It generally takes five to six months to hike and meanders through 14 states. I will be leaving with Will to begin the trail March 6, and we will set foot to dirt on the 8th, which means we are estimating completion sometime in September.

Right now, my pack is around 20 pounds before food and water. My complete packing list is attached to my profile at the top tab.

What other questions do you have for me? What would you like to see a post about?

Trail Name

This is something I’ve been deliberating about. I have come up with a variety of trail names and just haven’t found one to stick yet. A trail name is basically a unique nickname that other hikers adopt to call you for the duration of your thru-hike. Typically, other hikers will bestow them upon you based on deductions they make about you after meeting. However, I’m on the fence about letting it happen versus picking my own, since some hikers get really goofy names. I’d sort of like to have a decent one on reserve just in case. Any suggestions?

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 2

  • Pony : Feb 25th

    Who’s taking care of your kitties and gecko while you hike?

    • Madeleine Shell : Mar 3rd

      Hey Pony! Fortunately, my mom will be caring for my animal children. This has been a lot of adjustment for her as well, but she doesn’t mind taking them in. It’s comforting to see that I’m not the only blubbering animal parent that hurts at the prospect of leaving, but I am so thrilled to begin this journey! Are you a ’19 hiker? Prospective hiker? Graduated thru/section hiker?

      Happy trails!


What Do You Think?