So How Does a Girl from Australia End Up with a Plan to Hike the Appalachian Trail?
How It Started
The answer, in a slightly convoluted way, is Canada, and Canada’s decision to extend the age for working holiday visas to 35 years old.
This decision meant I was suddenly re-eligible for a Canadian visa. I thought “Maybe I could move to Canada?” So I did, moving to the Canadian Rocky Mountains in March 2021. The Rocky Mountains, in my completely biased opinion, is one of the best places in the world for all types of outdoor adventuring – many miles of trails for running, cycling, hiking, and other adventures. I have got to do lots of hiking here, and it has only increased my love of an outdoor adventure.
Planting a Seed
In December 2021, I was in the Canmore library, looking for a book to read. Bill Bryson’s “A walk in the woods” caught my attention. I had read this book before, which is on his hike of the Appalachian Trail, many years ago and I remembered liking it. So I borrowed it and gave it another read. The next time I was in the library, there was a non-fiction photo book on display called “The Appalachians.” Then soon afterward, I was reading an article on an Australian new site about the Camino de Santiago (a long hike in Spain), and a section at the bottom of the article referred to other long hikes, including the Appalachian Trail. I started to get the feeling that the world was suggesting to me that I should hike the AT. As with my decision to move to Canada in the first place, I thought “Maybe I could hike the Appalachian Trail?”
Originally, I was investigating doing a three-month section hike. This was because I was meant to be returning to my job as a lawyer in Melbourne in October 2022 and I had already signed up for an ultramarathon in southern Alberta in early July 2022. I asked on the “Appalachian Trail Hikers 2022” Facebook group (an excellent resource!) for suggestions of which part of the AT I should attempt, given my proposed start date. The overwhelming response was to start at Mt. Katahdin and just hike south for as far as I could get. This sounded like an excellent idea.
Growing the Idea
The more articles and books I read, the more YouTube videos I watched, and the more conversations with people I had, the more I thought “Maybe I could just do the whole thing?” Luckily my boss at home in Australia was super understanding (he is a keen hiker himself). When I proposed to him that I delay my return-to-work date to early 2023 so I could hike the whole AT, he was on board with that.
So now I am hiking the Appalachian Trail Sobo (SOBO? SoBo?) from mid-July 2022 until I either get to Springer Mountain, or my six-month visa to the US runs out, whatever is first. This will be a massive step up for me. Although I am a keen runner and outdoor enthusiast, I have mostly done day hikes only. The only multi-day hike I have done to date was an eleven day “flash-packing” style hike of the Haute Route in Switzerland in 2018. However, anyone who knows me knows that I love an adventure and I love a challenge! I am super excited (and nervous!) about my biggest, most challenging adventure yet!
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