Sometimes, You Have to Pack your Fears

In one month, I will be leaving Harper’s Ferry, WV to begin my (flip flop) thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

You know that feeling when a phrase seems to catch in your inner voice? Stuck on internal repeat, just shy of making your tongue move, it becomes an involuntary mantra. Of all the tenets and terms of art I’ve come across preparing for this hike, “Don’t Pack Your Fears” reverberates the most.

What does that mean?

At their simplest, “don’t pack your fears” are words-from-the-wise to new thru-hikers. A reminder to keep those pack pounds down. Its scary to be several miles of dense forest away from other food, so a green hiker with low hunger tolerance might carry 15 lbs of food. Just in case. The fear to crush all fears, however, needs to be carrying half your body-weight over 2,190.3 miles. As someone with a history of bringing four dresses and several pounds of beauty products on weekend trips, this was not lost on me.

My first (not very long ago) backpacking trip, I was wary of bringing only two hiking shirts when I would surely be getting dirty for three days. Theoretically, I’ve come a long way in preparation for this 6 month journey. I’ve whittled down vanity objects one ounce at a time (admittedly, I will still be bringing more than the essentials). Realistically, it will be a big adjustment for me to be separated from the luxuries I depend on to navigate the world with confidence, relying instead on actual navigation tools to get me where I need to go.


There are more than a few fears I will be bringing along. As of yet, those fears have been inseparable from my person. While some translate into ounces in my pack (that I will stubbornly hold on to), others aren’t so tangible. Those fears could use this experience, and I’m ready.

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Comments 2

  • Buffalo + Mumble : Apr 14th

    Awesome reminder! I don’t believe anyone ever stops dropping pack weight…you’ll get rid of stuff eventually simply because “it’s weight!” That’s what Buffalo has repeatedly told me over the last two years lol. Anyway, flip flopping huh? Going south first or north? We leave from Harpers on May 22nd and are heading north! Happy trails!! @Lifeat2mph

    • Carly Wright : Apr 14th

      I’m headed North, beginning my trek on May 15th. Yes, I’m sure my current tune of “everything I’m bringing is necessary for ME” might change.


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