Start Date for the Appalachian Trail

When choosing a start date for a through hike there are many factors to consider.  My job, finances, when my lease is up, the weather, and avoiding peak times to save wear on the trail and avoid norovirus.  I forwent a lot of these considerations when I decided to start my hike on March 13th.  You see, my father passed away on March 13th, 2015.  


My Parents Nourished a Love for the Outdoors and Adventures


His death impacted more than just when I decided to start the trail.  It’s influenced most of the things I’ve done since then. It’s probably a key factor in driving me to start my hike.  I do believe I’ll somehow be more connected to him out there on the trail.  I think my love and longing for adventure can in large part be tied to the books my parents read to me, and the ways they fostered my imagination and love for fantasy.  In some ways, though not always fully realized, I think I’ve wanted this since my father first read The Hobbit out loud to me.  

This Journey is a Physical Manifestation of a Spiritual One

I remember a friend asked me if I was okay shortly after he passed, and I felt that nothing would ever be okay again.  In some ways, I still feel this is true.  Everything is a little muted now.  My highs are a little bit lower because he’s not here to share my victories with me.  My lows are a little bit darker because I can’t go to him for comfort.  The world was a better place for me when he was in it.  His passing helped me realize something important though.   Just because things are a little bit dampened now doesn’t mean they can’t still be wonderful.  There are still so many amazing things to experience and I can still be happy.  Maybe not as happy as I would be if he was here- but it’s okay.  Because I’m still here.  I will go through more losses in my life, and each of them will take something forever.  Maybe I just feel I have to live my own life a little bit fuller now in memory of him.  Maybe this won’t make sense to anyone but me.

There is nowhere I could go he won’t be with me

Now, I did have made some concessions. I’m not able to start on March 13th for financial reasons.  It’s been hard for me to reassess and it’s actually the second time I’ve reconsidered my start date.  But I think ultimately I’m doing the right thing.  I’ll be able to start lighter because it won’t be as cold, and I think I’ll still have plenty of time to finish the trail before October.  April 13th is a Friday, and my father passed on Friday the 13th, and his best friend was born on Friday the 13th, so I will start the Appalachian Trail April 13th, 2017.  Of course, it doesn’t matter when I start, my father will always be with me.  There’s a quote from Steven Universe I’ve held close to my heart ever since hearing it shortly after my father passed.  In a video the main character’s mother makes she tells him “every moment you love being yourself, that’s me loving you”.

My Start Date May Change Again

Remember in a previous post when I said I was planning on my plans to fall apart?  That’s still true.  I had told my mother I was going to leave March 12th, and she may not be available April 12th.  I’d like to hit the trail April 13th, but it will be okay.  Right now it seems like my biggest obstacle is simply getting to that trailhead.  I have a history of falling apart at the slightest sign of adversity.  That’s actually one of the reasons I want to do this, I think it will help me face adversity in a more level manner in the future, but I’ll have more on that in the future.

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Comments 3

  • Capt. Norm : Dec 30th

    Good luck Margaret!

  • Slo-go'en : Jan 14th

    What do I think? I think April 13th is a better day to start then March 13th. That extra month makes a big difference in the weather and maybe you won’t freeze to death with your minimalist gear set up. I’ve seen a lot of sorry UL hikers early in the season who weren’t prepared for the cold rain.

    • Margaret : Jan 14th

      I wouldn’t have frozen to death if I started in March either I just would have had a couple more things in my pack. I have field tested my gear.


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