I don’t mean to scare them, I really don’t. They simply frighten easily when some tall, long-haired, brightly colored human marches towards them, trying to act friendly by engaging in small talk. It just so happens that their favorite grazing spot is also my favorite walking spot and that, besides trudging up and down the 19 floors of my apartment building, it’s my main way of training for my 2016 NOBO thru-hike. Such is life in flat, densely populated Holland.
It hasn’t been very long since I decided to attempt an AT thru-hike (less than a year, even) but I knew for a long time that I wanted to go on some kind of adventure. My parents have both traveled all over the world and have always instilled in me a sense of adventure and a love for travel. Though I grew up in the Netherlands, I spent my summers in the USA, visiting family and exploring national parks. I started writing cringe-inducing poetry about wanderlust at the end of elementary school and, uh, never completely stopped.. although the poetry made way for instagram captions. When I was asked as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d answer ‘mountain climber!’ up until the moment I realized I was afraid of heights. Then it turned in to nature photographer and travel writer.
For my eighteenth birthday my parents gave me a backpack – the very same that I’ll be taking with me on my thru-hike. After high school I went to the University of Amsterdam to study cultural anthropology, where I discovered that nearly every single one of my classmates had been on some grand adventure before. I realized I wanted to do something like that too before I started on my master’s degree. Then, in January of this year, I read Southbound by the Barefoot Sisters and something clicked. So I binge-read a pile of Appalachian Trail books. I started visiting this great website called Appalachian Trials (maybe you’ve heard of it?). And I decided I wanted to attempt a thru-hike.
I told my boyfriend and my parents and a couple of friends in March or April. I got a Big Agnes tent for my birthday in May from my parents, and my friends worked together to buy me an ereader so I won’t have to go without books. I dove in to research mode with my dad, and somehow found the time to graduate as well. I told the world of my plans. And now here I am! I’ve got almost all the gear I’ll need, at least 150% of the enthusiasm, and hopefully enough savvy to get me to Maine. I’m excited to be sharing my journey with you and hope you enjoy reading along!
Photo courtesy david_pics.
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