There is a link in here to donate to my Guatemala mission trip fund

Well, probably the biggest reason I decided to take on this adventure is because I read through the Thru Hiking issue of Backpacker Magazine and couldn’t think of any reasons NOT to go this year. I have a little bit of backpacking experience but my longest trip was only 26 miles. When I was a kid I was happiest exploring the woods and creeks around my house, and my mindset for the trail is that I’m just a kid exploring the woods and having fun. I look at this adventure as a great learning experience.

what I hope to gain from the trail:

  • learn to live in the moment
  • appreciation for everyday blessings that are usually taken for granted
  • discover my true self
  • escape from the pressures and obligations of society
  • awesome new friends and connections
  • learn to be uncomfortable
  • become immune to society’s judgement

Mission plans and start date

At first I planned to hike SoBo for more solitude and because I am going on a mission trip to Guatemala May 6th-13th. But after reading and researching about life on the AT I decided I couldn’t wait any longer, so my new plan is to hike NoBo on March 26th, leave the trail for the mission trip and pick up right where I left off when I get back. If you would like to support me on my mission trip go to the following website:   (please enter Dan Thompson as the name of the person you are supporting)


About me

Growing up in Indiana I had no clue what mountains were, except for whenever I saw them on a screen. I liked exploring the woods around my house as a kid, but my wanderlust started in 2015, during my Junior year at Indiana University South Bend. My brother invited me on a spontaneous road trip to the Smokies and I fell in love. Since then I have driven to/through all states but Hawaii, trying to experience and see all the beauty God created in this country. I drive a 93 Buick and put 40k miles on it in the past year. Drove to Alaska last summer and she still runs like a champ. Most of my trips are spontaneous and don’t really have a plan, I just drive and find cool spots to stop and camp along the way. I like road trips because I have a lot of time to sit and think, and I think the trail will be similar in some ways, except at a much slower pace. I never knew what backpacking was until I went on a weekend trip with my brother to Manistee National Forest a few years ago, and have gone backpacking 6-7 times since. When I road trip I usually camp and go on day hikes, but I think I have enough experience to start a thru-hike ( I hope). My biggest fear is the rain and cold. I am tarping for the first time, I have always backpacked with my tent but I want to shed some pounds. Monotony triggers my depression so I’m not sure how I will feel after hiking day after day. I”m an introvert but I think the vulnerability of the woods will help me come out of my shell and be more social that usual, and I hope to regain a childlike/playful view of life and stop thinking about big life questions.


Pre-hike training

My training schedule has consisted of eating as much food as possible to gain weight for the trail. I hope I can keep the weight on throughout the hike, I am a little guy, 5’9″ 145 lbs. Other than eating I am not doing any training to get my body in shape for the trail. I ran a marathon with no training, so I should be able to hike 2,189 miles with no training, right..?

How I can afford to thru hike

I substitute teach and scalp Notre Dame football tickets to make money when I am at home in South Bend. Through those savings (and 2 credit cards) I will be able to afford the hike and the 8 children I sponsor through Compassion, but I need to spend the least money I can along the way. When I finish I plan to sell lots of tickets and do enough subbing to cover my debts and build up money for the next adventure. I like subbing because I can pick my own schedule and it pays  $100 a day, so I always have an easy way to make money when my funds run dry.


My primary identity is a Christian, and my faith and trust in God is where I get my confidence that I’ll be OK. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think many struggles and trials will come my way, it just means that no matter what happens I will have Jesus with me, in my heart and by my side, and that’s enough to make it through any hardship. I am not religious but I have a great relationship with Christ and my favorite part about being a Christian is that we don’t have to do anything to win our salvation, it has been given to us as a gift, which leads to a truly free life. My main goal in life is to make Jesus smile, and his peace controls my heart every day. I hope this walk brings a more constant awareness of his Spirit all around and within me. I think Jesus had thru hikers in mind when he said

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:25

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