The Before and After
So another exciting way to document my journey will be questions… Questions I have been asked, questions I have asked, and questions I ask myself before, during and after. Due to the perfect timing of my thru hike, I am at the age where I am expected to question all the meanings of life and make huge decisions like my career path. To be completely honest I have no idea, I have a few things I keep coming back to, but nothing solid. I am anticipating that this time hiking will be a great time to do soul searching, getting to know myself and all that fun stuff.
But how will I know I really changed, when it is difficult to see change when you’re the one changing?
That is what these next questions are going to do… I will answer these questions and then when I get back, I will answer them again and truly see how these things have changed. Also take note that this is what is important to me now, and quite possibly won’t matter to me when I finished…
What do you think will be missed the most?
What I am anticipating to miss the most is the relationships I have here, that have already been established and made solid. I am looking forward to meeting new people far beyond the little bubble I have in my town, but I will miss my family and being able to hug them. (BARF! Cheesy I know)
What do you think will be the greatest obstacle?
I don’t know! I haven’t thought about it in that way. I have thought about rough parts and things that will suck, but not that grand thing. Probably psyching myself out, and letting the small things get to me too much. I could see that being 50/50, I either handle it well or it could possibly be lethal to my trip.
What is worth suffering for? What benefit is worth the pain?
This sounds like a question of physical pain, but I think the mental will be the hardest. To gain that mentality that “I hiked the Appalachian Trail, I can do anything!” To be able to have that confidence and keep this experience with me is worth all the blisters and cold rainy nights.
Are you comfortable being alone?
No, I’m not. That’s the point tho because all the shitty parts are what counts and how I grow. If this hike was just flowers and talking birds the whole time, I wouldn’t learn nearly as much as I would with the days that I don’t want to hike, but I do it anyway.
What do you want to do when you’re older?
I am leaning towards two different areas. The medical field has always been in the back of my mind when it comes to career choices, and I love the fact that I would be helping people as much as I could. Then again, the feeling I get when I take photos and capture a moment that words couldn’t, gives me a type of joy I can’t describe. Either way I want to make an impact. If I did become a doctor, I would go to and help refugees or mothers in South America. If I became a photojournalist I wouldn’t take pictures of flowers, I would go and take pictures of the ice caps melting and show people proof about the things needing to be fixed in the world. No matter what I do, I just want to enjoy it and be mentally stimulated.
What do you want people to know about you before you leave?
Nothing, this isn’t about other people or what they know/ think of me. This does not mean I don’t appreciate everyone’s feedback and support, but people will judge you no matter what you do or say… so you might as well do what you want.
What are you hoping to learn about yourself?
How I handle the uncomfortable, and depending on myself. I have had a very comfortable upbringing, and I haven’t experienced anything like this before. The skills I have but have not yet used will provide great insight throughout my life, and I am hoping to learn that I am able to handle it.
Right now, what do you feel is most important in your pack?
My tent, it provides a lot for me. I am a “nester”, and take comfort in my room and my space. That is why I chose a tent over tarping or sleeping in shelters. I know that the food and water are more of a necessity, but my tent will provide a place of “safety” in my mind which will bring a lot of comfort along the way.
What scares you the most about this undertaking?
Probably the fact that no matter how much reading or shakedowns, you can not be fully prepared. This scares me because I like being prepared but then that also brings up… What if I am under prepared, and shit hits the fan because of it? I am thinking of this week by week, and I can’t comprehend the length or the ending of my thru hike either. I don’t like that, but I also think it is a good thing, because if I could think of all 2000 some miles I would probably be overwhelmed… like a lot!
What is most precious to you?
The relationships I have with all the people I am leaving here. I like to be here for people, sometimes a little too much. I am worried that the relationships I have won’t be the same when I get home, so I am taking the time to appreciate everyone before I leave.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully finished or still in college, and having some financial stability. Maybe even have some more traveling under my belt… but my wallet will need a little breather first.
Whats the biggest fear you have overcome so far to make this trip happen?
I am a very passive aggressive person when it comes to something I want, that’s why ordering at Taco Bell is always hard…
“Can I take your order?” “I guess…” “What would you like?” “I don’t know, you choose.”
So when the big decisions came up, I wasn’t comfortable making them or fallowing through with them either. To really make this trip benefit me the most, I have had to make some choices that have made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t originally going to do this solo, but I decided that I really wanted to see if I could do this on my own. Because the thought of doing a solo scares the shit out of me, and like I said earlier it’s all about the uncomfortable. It was not easy to come to or talk about, but I think just by making the decision it has given me a chance to grow.
What are you most scared of seeing in the next five months?
Some weird shit can go down in the woods, and I’m sure I will cope with it fine… But I am not looking forward to meet those creeps and assholes who you can meet anywhere, even where I live now. I don’t think it is even because of the trail, I just hate those situations. I am however excited for the responses I have set up, including my 6in. knife I’ll have on my hip.
Do you feel the Bern?
Oh I’m feeling the Bern!!!
How reliant are you to technology?
More than I would like to be, but less than the average young adult. I am able to leave my phone at home when I leave the house, or let my phone die without panicking. I do however depend a lot on my phone for alarms, reminders, photos and entertainment. I am hoping to get past that while on the trail. I already hate texting and talking on the phone anyway, so I am not too worried about that.
Would you go to the movies by yourself?
Yeah, why not?
Batman Band aids or Electronic tape?
I am assuming this is for blisters or injuries… so if I had to choose, it would have to be the stylin batman band aids all the way!
If I ever get a tattoo…
I have three things… ONE: A matching Celtic knot meaning “Father and daughter” with my dad, or any matching thing with my dad, mom and brother. (Shoulder) TWO: A recovery symbol for eating disorders (Wrist maybe) THREE: My trail name along with some Appalachian Trail image (probably on my foot)
How do you feel about your mother being able to track you?
Used to it.
Have you seen Wild?
Yes, but here the thing. IT WAS THE PCT!
Fine! Have you seen Walk in the Woods?
Yes, I have. Despite it being really short, and having a lot of missing things from the book, it was a cute movie that did have moments of “That’s so true!”
What has been the most challenging towards the end of preparation?
Well I have been planning this for the past two years, and I have gotten to the point of “Am I done yet!?” So the hardest thing is just sitting here with nothing but time, and I am the type of person where I don’t use it to my advantage… so it gets pretty annoying.
Have you shit in the woods before?
What does a normal breakfast look like?
I have never been a breakfast person, so if anything its a large coffee to go.
Hike naked day?
Nah, I am good.
Did you do drop boxes?
Nope, sounds like too much time, effort and money for what it is. For me it seemed like the better option.
Do think this journey will change you in ways you can’t imagine?
Oh hell yeah! Or at least I hope so…
How long have you gone without a shower?
Oooh, I think 5 days.
How many showers do you take per week?
I have been attempting to become comfortable without showering everyday, so around 3 times a week.
How many times have you packed and unpacked your pack?
Since I got all my gear and figured out how I wanted to pack it, I think around a dozen or more.
What are you afraid of, like bears and such?
Well, not bears. I have been reassured that if you do everything right and have a little luck they wont be a problem. I am a little worried about walking and not noticing a snake, and then stepping on it, and I get bit, and I loose my leg, and I am called stumpy for the rest of my life… But honestly I am doing pretty good when it comes to wildlife.
What is your favorite food?
Burgers with everything on it, EXTRA PICKLES, and BBQ sauce… Yum
How often do you shave your legs?
Honestly not often, I don’t wear shorts, I have light hair and I also just don’t care.
How will you charge your phone?
Originally I was going to go with the solar power charger idea, but I decided against it. I decided this because there won’t always be a reliant source of sunlight, and I don’t want to stress over it. So I have two batteries that are 4 oz. each and hold up to 4 full recharges for my phone/ camera/ tracker.
How many miles per day?
It varies for too many reasons to write down, but on average about 12 and Ill steadily increase as my fitness does.
I would spend my last 10 bucks on…
Hot dogs… with mustard, ketchup, neither or both?
The whole bottle of mustard to block out the taste of hot dog… yuck!
Do you know what is going on in terms of trends and all things millennial?
How will you stay hydrated and eat?
I will hunt and gather… No not really. There is water sources along the trail the entire way and I am using a filter to make sure I don’t catch anything. I will resupply roughly once a week, in towns along the way usually by shuttle.
How do you handle people giving you advice who have never done this before?
Nod politely, while in my head think otherwise. It is all in good heart, but god does it get annoying.
Do you like boys or girls?
I’ve got a fantastic boyfriend, but when it comes down to the question…I am impartial, I don’t care as long as they have a brain and a heart beat.
What do you define yourself with?
I think the one thing anyone who spends at least 5 minutes with me will notice is… I will jump down your throat so quick when it comes to my baby brother. I defend the little guy even when it isn’t always necessary.
What was your favorite thing about high school?
The lunch… haha just kidding. My school is tiny, 300 for the middle school and high school. You knew everyone’s name, and if you didn’t know their name you knew their face. There is a great seance of community that I loved.
I can’t wait to…
Get my own apartment/ living arrangement. This has nothing negative to do with my parents, I am just really excited to see who I am on my own outside of their walls. Have a little growing room.
Well, there are the questions… I wonder what will change, and what will stay the same.
Are you bringing a weap…
Feel free to comment your own questions, I am interested to see what others would/ have asked.
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Great decision to hike at this time in your life. Best wishes.
You know how much I love you grrl, get on out there and get down and dirty. Carol and I send you our best wishes and positive thoughts. I wish I was able to do this thing.
What do you think you will dream about while sleeping under the stars?
Great for you! I don’t understand it,call it the magic of nature, but people are better and more willing to open themselves to being better people. Like it’s Christmas.Not all, but certainly a larger percentage.Funny thing about pictures taken on AT. Pictures taken may not seem as cool later, like a vampire trying to catch his reflection. The glory is tough to catch. Part of it is your personal investment.
A picture that looks “nice” to others, is great to you because you invested the effort to get to the top. That picture is of a valley or river that you just spent hours climbing above, with a fully loaded backpack on a freezing/ or hot day, is special to you, and those who have made similar investments. If you don’t understand me now, you will. Still take hundreds of photos, because there will be those few that speak to all.