Taking a Right at Maine Junction
In July 2016 I thru-hiked the Long Trail in Vermont. This trail coincides with the AT for about 100 miles from the Vermont—Massachusetts border to a split called Maine Junction. After my first night on the LT I already had my eyes on the AT (overly ambitious, I know). After a week of walking through the Green Mountains, I came upon a fork in the trail. Maine Junction. Taking a left at this split will lead a hiker to the Canadian border on the LT. Taking a right will lead a hiker to Katahdin. I made a left that day knowing that one day I would walk up to that sign and make a right. I ended up reaching the Canadian border and found myself officially addicted to hiking. Now I am planning a 2019 NOBO hike on the AT and couldn’t be more excited about it.
Preparing for the Trail
Physically, I have been preparing for the AT for a long time. Since my thru-hike on the LT I hiked all 46 of the 4,000 footers in the Adirondacks and a section of the Arizona Trail. Also, I started trail running this year. I am going to continue hiking and running through the winter to keep myself in shape. I know that injuries happen. I want to prepare my body for the beating that it is going to experience.
I revamped my gear list from my time on the LT. I know the importance of each ounce and I am going to spend the winter making sure that every bit of weight is accounted for before heading to Georgia. When my gear is all set, I will be sure to give a detailed gear list.
Mentally, the AT is going to test me. I am going to question why I am out there, I am going to doubt myself, and I am going to have bad days; that is all part of the hike. I visualize reaching Maine Junction having come all the way from Georgia. I will be able to reflect on where I started and I will finally be able to take a right and head to Maine. I know that I am capable of making this thru-hike a success, and I want to make sure that I give it my best shot.
What I Do that Is Not Hiking
Surprisingly, I do things other than hike. I am a mechanical engineering student at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and will be graduating in December 2018. I studied abroad in Australia, Italy, and Vietnam. I go rock climbing a few times a week at a local rock gym and would love to develop the skills to big-wall climb. During my time at school, I have grown to enjoy running. I figured that if I like hiking I would probably enjoy trail running and, big surprise, I love it. In my typical, slightly over-ambitious fashion, I ran a trail marathon this fall. I trained during the spring and all summer for the race, which was on Oct. 13 in Stowe, VT. The race went really well and I can say that I will surely be doing more trail running. I am also attempting to make my own backpack to use for the AT. I have a sewing machine and plan to make a minimalist backpack that will (hopefully) accompany me from Springer to Katahdin. Still, hiking is my passion and I get out into the woods as much as I can.
I may not start hiking the AT until March of next year, but for me, the trail has been a part of my life for years. There are few things in my life that have been so prominent in my mind over such a long period of time. The journey is the destination and I want to enjoy the moments leading up to the hike as much as I enjoy the hike itself. I know that it will have its ups and downs, and I welcome them. Life would be no fun if things went well every time.
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