Road Trip to the Appalachian Trail

Yesterday during my monthly performance review I spilled the beans to my boss.

“I’m still planning on taking a road trip to Georgia and then hiking the Appalachian Trail and Eric and I have a start date set now, so I thought I should let you know.”

This has been on my to-do list for too long. but telling your boss you are planning on leaving for 6 months, regardless of if you will be allowed to come back or not is a scary prospect. Especially in the midst of end of year reviews for a fiscally tough year.

But I did it. Just like when I told the first person I told that I would be hiking the trail, it just kind of slipped out.

By the way: 88 days until I stand on Springer, according to my countdown in one of many excel spreadsheets I look at daily.

So the question had to be asked. How the heck are we getting to the trail?

Eric and I live in California. Right on the Coast. Right in the middle. We discussed many options, planes, trains, and finally settled on automobiles. That’s right,

We are starting our adventure with a massive cross country southern road trip.


So here’s the plan. This road trip is going to start out February 29th from our home and drive south about three hours to the town where Eric’s family lives, where we will spend the day on March 1st.

From there we will drive to Joshua Tree National Park, where we will camp for the night.


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On March 3, we take off from Joshua Tree to Grand Canyon National Park, where I have reservations for two nights of camping. I’m seriously floored at this opportunity because I have a massive crush on the Grand Canyon but I’ve never been there before.


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Hopefully we will get to do a day hike to the Canyon Floor on March 4th because on March 5th we need to wake up as early as possible to drive to…


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

White Sands National Monument. We will hopefully be able to get a spot in their dispersed camping, but if not we will be staying in Las Caracas, NM. The next day is out longest stretch. White Sands to Austin, TX.


Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

We plan on spending a day exploring Austin, and then heading to New Orleans, where one of my college roommates lives.


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We are going to crash with her for two days and head off to Marietta, GA, where I have family. We will spend a few days with them and then on March 15, 2016, Eric and I will start the trail from Springer Mountain, GA. Woah. Then comes the whole “hike the Appalachian Trail” portion of the adventure. Which is pretty wild too.

But this is actually all happening. Here’s the excel spreadsheet to prove it.


Because despite the spreadsheets, the food, the gear and registering our hike with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, yesterday was the realest the trail has felt so far. Because I told my boss, and I made a reservation at a campground where I will be staying in just a little over two months, as part of our adventure to reach the trail. Things are really starting to come together to make this dream come true.

At this point my biggest worry is that my car will break down in the middle of Arizona or New Mexico and we won’t ever make it to Springer! Fingers Crossed!

Happy Trails, and warm feet to you all!


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Comments 15

  • Laura Larsen : Dec 18th

    Sounds like a great trip !
    I can’t believe you have never been to the Grand Canyon . You will be in Awe 🙂

    • Kira Thornley : Dec 18th

      Yes I’m so excited to see the Grand Canyon! been something I’ve wanted to do for ages!

  • Kimmy Morris : Dec 20th

    This makes me insanely jealous that I live a mere 6 hours from Springer. Awesome way to start a thru hike!

    • Kira Thornley : Dec 29th

      haha, it required a bit of extra wiggle room in the budget, so I’m a bit jealous of you! But it certainly beats flying!

  • Jay Landrum : Dec 20th

    That is so cool , I’m planning a thur hike in 5 years , gotta wait till my child is almost grown . Good luck and God Bless . MERRY CHRISTMAS

  • Mischa Egolf : Dec 21st

    We are also planning to road trip! We’re coming from Portland though so we have to go through the Rockies. Also very scared about our car making it. The Grand Canyon is extra beautiful in the winter, hope you guys have an awesome time!

    • Bob Rogers : Dec 24th

      My mom lives in Chattanooga, Kira has family in Atlanta (basically). What do “normal” cross-country people do with their cars?!??? You could rent one one-way but that would be as expensive as flying. Even if you could park it for 6 months without getting towed, it would be dead as a doornail by time you got back to it.

      Only the 2 parks? I have a friend in Phoenix that I give grief to all the time about the number of “green spots” on Google Maps. The crater, petrified forest, Zion (yeah I know across the line but still). NM has Carlsbad Caverns which you’ll drive right past. I so want an RV so I can collect all the National Park lapel pins!!! With 6 months off, my biggest fear is coming back. I just might not.

      • Kira Thornley : Dec 29th

        Ah, you hit the nail on the head Bob! only two parks breaks my heart, though it’s TECHNICALLY 3, if you want to include White Sands (technically a National Monument). I would LOVE to take more time, but the restraint is in the budget, it’s the food and lodging that adds up quickly… I need to spend it on the trail, who knows though, we do have to drive it back! Hopefully there will be some extra change in our pockets for that.

      • Kira Thornley : Dec 29th

        I’ve heard of people leaving them right at the trailhead up FR 42…. I imagine they are a bit dusty by the end of it, and you might want to invest in something to jump it… and AAA haha. I’m a little nervous about my car making it as well. I’ve got AWD, and made the major repairs this year already but still, I’d hate to be broke down in NM when I wanted to be in GA on the trail.

  • Danny : Dec 25th

    Good luck on each part of your adventure. Be careful on the snowy roads you encounter. My first time at the Grand Canyon was back in the mid to late 70’s and I remember that it was snowing just a little in early September and the ground was so hard I broke several of my plastic tent stakes setting my tent. The next day I hiked down the Bright Angel Trail to the river and back to the rim. About 9:30am until 10:30pm. Walked out with the light of the full moon to assist. Best hike ever and I have taken quite a few. I have never been so tired in my life. I may change that tin 2016 with a NOBO AT through hike.

    • Kira Thornley : Dec 29th

      What a wonderful memory! I know, that I got a reality check when I was looking at the weather reports for the Grand Canyon in March… but then I remembered the rim is at 7,000! so I guess I’ll hope for snow since we need it out here and pack warm clothes in the car!

  • Dawn : Dec 27th

    We to are hiking in 2016. Starting Feb 29. Would love to see your spreadsheets. We are currently deciding about mail drops or not. What are you doing? Getting nervous and now over thinking everything.

    • Kira Thornley : Dec 29th

      Hi Dawn, I would be happy to share my spreadsheets with you, I think you sent me an e-mail already! I’ll look for it!

  • Mari : Aug 10th

    Where are you all? You should be finished or just about finishing up now.

    • Kira Thornley : Aug 10th

      unfortunately, in my cubicle in California. I got tendinitis pretty bad, and it kept coming back after getting off to rest for 2.5 weeks. My hike ended at the Mason-Dixon line.


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