Sizing Me Up, Are You?

Southern Ontario, Canada. It is cold.  VERY cold.  I am staring out the window at snow and ice.  Under my finger tips I feel the frosty pane that is insufficient at blocking the frigid air.  With the wind chill, it is -27 Celsius ( -16.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Way too cold for hiking!!

Sized Up

I read somewhere that the shuttle drivers who take people up to the parking lot at Springer Mountain are pretty good at sizing people up, and pre-determining if they will fail or succeed on their thru- attempt of the AT. I think that if I were “sized up”, I would not fall into the category of “likely to succeed”.   For one, I’m not the youngest doe on the trail.  If you listened closely, you’d hear my 46 year old (going on 80) knees crackling like a campfire as they lift me up off the couch.   I’m also not the fittest.  Truth be told, I’ve got an unsightly “ponch”.  Not to be confused with a certain 1970’s handsome highway patrolman, a “ponch” is a flab pack specifically found on a girl (according to the urban dictionary).  I would like to blame it on giving birth to twins, but that excuse fizzled into fiction a long time ago.  What I can blame it on is; my sedentary job, the bowl of frozen yogurt that I just consumed, and the current state of the weather. Yes, I realize that those are poor excuses too, but I’m using them. Finally, my gear kind of sucks.  Well, some of it does anyway. That is a work in progress which I will write about a bit later.

Don’t Bail Just Yet!

So, did you just hitch a ride with an AT blogger who is going to fail? Don’t size me up so quickly. What my crackling knees, girl “ponch” and inadequate gear don’t show you is; my stubbornness, my adaptability, my strength and my experience.

I won’t bore you with my entire life history, but if you were to take a quick peek at my recent past, this is what you would see.  My husband retired and I closed my business. We gave away or sold almost half of our possessions, purchased an RV and spent almost a year traveling all over the US and Canada while homeschooling our boys.  We experienced a lot of changes, a lot of obstacles and a few difficulties, but we adapted.

During that time, I discovered that my second born (aka: twin B) and I love hiking together. And hike we did!  We hiked the mountains in Big Bend NP, the desert in Joshua Tree NP, and the Grand Canyon.  We fell in love with giant Redwood Trees and Sequoias as we hiked around California. The snow capped mountains in Glacier NP (Canada) and in Banff NP tested us.  But, the hike that really hooked us, the one that turned this enjoyable pastime into what I hope will be a lifelong addiction, was a seven day hike on The West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. Wow.  That is the only word to describe it.  Look it up.

Fast Forward

We are now back home.  After being on the move for a year, staying in one place seems unnatural.  And boring.  So what does an adventurous and determined girl do?   She dreams bigger than she has dreamed before.  She plans.  Then, she does.  Oh, and she brings along her handsome and courageous thirteen year old son to be her hiking buddy.  He has been reading over my shoulder as I type, and has decided that he likes that description of himself. So, I’ll stick with it.


Dreaming and Planning

Now, back to the window.  I need to get out there and strengthen these crackly knees.  Not only do I need to lighten my pack, but I also need to lighten my load (translation: reduce the “ponch”).  I need to test my gear and evaluate what needs to be upgraded.  I’m running out of time, and I don’t see any warm weather in sight. Leg strengthening exercise, and repeatedly climbing one flight of stairs, will only get me so far.  I need to get out there.  We both need to get out there, whether the weather cooperates or not.  But for now, the frosty pane tickles my finger tips and I continue to dream and plan, while I wait to do.


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Comments 8

  • April and Jake : Jan 7th

    All about the heart. Good luck out there!

    • Sheila Jackson-Taylor : Jan 8th

      Yes it is! Thank you!

  • Nadine : Jan 8th

    YES!!! Inspired and further seals my plan for (maybe even get my youngest, now 11, to sign on too….hoping your Cole inspires her!) my AT NOBO in a few years. I just turned 50…can’t wait to read your posts!!!! Keep ’em coming!

    Strength and support coming your way from NH!


    • Sheila Jackson-Taylor : Jan 13th

      Hi Nadine, I hope that Cole inspires your youngest too! Thank you for sending strength and support.

  • Christine Taylor : Jan 10th

    I thru hiked the AT in 2016. To look at me now you would never think I did it. I am the same weight I started at. I regularly got the question, “are you going to Maine honey?” It was always said in the “sweetest” tones:) I am certain most people didn’t think I could do it. But, I knew I could. That is all that really matters. You and your son are going to have a great adventure together. You can do it and when you finish you can’t imagine how changed for the good you will be, in every way.

    • Sheila Jackson-Taylor : Jan 13th

      Ohhh, if anyone calls me “honey” I am going to have to bite my tongue really hard. lol I am glad that you made it to the end Christine! Thank you for the words of encouragement.

  • The Flash : Jan 13th

    I thru hiked in 2012 and would have been voted first one to drop out. I sprained my ankle coming out of Davenport Gap and my mom picked me up at Standing Bear. A lot of people thought I was done. They were shocked when they saw me back on the trail after resting up for a day. I wasn’t in great shape but it was all about perserverence and positive attitude. It is 90% mental and 10% physical. If you want it and you hike within your ability and don’t try to rush it, your body will adjust and before you know it you will be on Katahdin.

    • Sheila Jackson-Taylor : Jan 13th

      Thank you for the positive words Flash.


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