Things change, the AT doesn’t.
And that’s okay. Part of my reason for hiking the AT was to learn to go with the flow. To be less anxious about change. I cannot control everything. < I need to be able to really believe that. This is another lesson in that before I even strap my new fancy trail running gators on.
A few things have changed for my 2018 thru-hike. My start date and my hiking partner. I have moved my start date up two weeks, to begin on 2/15/2018. When I start hiking, it will just be a girl and her dog. I was hiking with someone and I have made the decision to set out earlier and without him. The AT doesn’t change no matter what in my life or hiking plans does.
Hike your own hike
The less vulgar, “different folks, different strokes.”
I hear this constantly on hiking forums. This is a phrase that hikers like to use when describing why they are doing things one way instead of the way someone else likes to do them. Different people have different meanings for this, and that’s further drives home the need to have this mentality.
It’s necessary for us to make this about US. When undertaking such a big feat, it’s imperative to be focusing on our needs, and desires or finishing would be difficult. ‘Hike your own hike’ is a way to agree to disagree, and that’s okay!
I’ve decided to move away from my hiking partner because frankly, part of me still loves that man and I know I can’t be just his friend. I realized it was not healthy to spend six months with him everyday when I have not moved on yet. My heart is still healing.That is not easy to admit and even harder to say out loud. Rejection is really hard for humans, it’s really hard for me. Rejection can be unspoken but through actions and that’s an even harder type for me to understand because it’s not outright and glimmers of hope remain that maybe someone doesn’t mean it or maybe they will change their actions. My realization that I realized this (woah–mind blown) has shown me that I am very ready for the trial and the growing I will do during my journey! He’s an amazing man and will do great things in life, and I hope his hike is everything he wants (and needs) it to be. I will be focusing on my healing process from many things and becoming more self aware of who I am.
Hunter, my dog is still my amazing trail companion and we will meet many new friends on trail. I have faith and great anticipation that the trail (nature) will have exactly what I need even though I might not know what all of that is right now.
Gotta change the date
So when I realized I couldn’t hike with him, I realized I needed to change my start date. I chose to move my date forward two weeks. Part of this was because February 15 is Susan B. Anthonys birthday. While i don’t agree with EVERYTHING she stood for (leave my bourbon alone, Susie, I’m not making that change.) I know that part of me doing the hard (but self-loving) thing, not heeding the sexist, pessimist views of female hiking, and taking charge of my whole life is something that Ms. Anthony would have applauded. It is an honor to be able to celebrate her birthday by embarking on such a moving experience.
Secondly, I know that I don’t want to follow him, literally. I don’t want to see his name in every trail journal. This gal needs to just proceed and not have a constant reminder. Doggo also won’t don’t mind cool weather, and lack of mosquitos. I am looking for solitude and a mid-February start date provides even more of that.
Why keep the AT on track?
I considered (for about 4 minutes) not hiking the AT this year, and doing something else with my savings. Immediately, I realized that was ridiculous. I have wanted to do this for years and have spent the last year preparing for it. Why change and ignore this dream? I also don’t want losing a guy to be the reason I change my decision and later regret not making my thru-hike. A fat kid waiting for his mom to stop taking pictures and just let him eat the damn cake has NOTHING on my excitement level for starting in 5 weeks. FIVE WEEKS! Holy shit. That’s really soon. Don’t panic. I’m fine. I’m fine. I am fine?
The trail is still roughly 2,190 miles, running from Georgia to Maine through vast wilderness. The AT doesn’t change no matter what in my life or hiking plans does. The AT is my rock in a turbulent time. I am ready.
So what now?
Five weeks. With all the change, I just sort of went hog wild (like the beer flowing at a country music festival). I have decided that I am not doing frequent drops per my previous planning had lead me to. I was planning on mailing food for both my dog and I so I could control what we were eating and not be at the mercy of the trial. That’s crazy. I don’t want to be stuck to a schedule every five days. That is NOT go with the flow type thinking. I am going to just enjoy what the trail offers and if I need to hitch hike or take a cab into another town just a little further off trail to get the food I’m craving, so be it.
Goal is to finish this hike in 5.5 months but if it takes 7, that’s okay. I have saved plenty of money to make this what it needs to be.
The final stretch
Logistical planning needs have went down to almost nothing quicker than the inventory at an REI garage sale. I have a car rental to get the doggo and I down to Atlanta where we will meet with our first trail angel (she heard about my change and reached out, and I’m so grateful) for a warm bed and meal and ride up to the trailhead the next day.
We have our gear purchased and just a few items are still in shipping transit as of today. I will post a gear list in the next few days. I have moved from Ultralight to ‘pretty light, but I am going to be comfortable and carry a few more pounds because when I’m not comfortable and can’t change it, I complain, and I hate complaining and would be more likely to quit, and quitting isn’t an option. Unless I die.’ I think I’m somewhere in the mid 20s with food and water for weight.
I am just spending my time hiking, enjoying daily hot showers, pillow top mattresses and wide varieties of meals. I have one more shakedown hike to complete and about 6 more shifts at work before I’m free.
Now it’s just a waiting game, probably the hardest part of the preparation and the one thing that doesn’t change.
Until next time, happy hiking and always, Hike your own hike.
Katie & Hunter
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You are going to have the time if your life! Your attitude is the best. You are a “bad ass” woman. I did the trail in 2017 and it was indescribably wonderful. Don’t put too much pressure on the trail or yourself to resolve feelings of the heart. Let it all come naturally. There are so many wonderful experiences ahead of you. And……..resupplying in town will work itself out. That was a good decision. I look forward to following you and hearing about your trail name.
You go girl! Curious about Hunter’s Bio?
Enjoy each moment as you come to them…now and on the trail! Peace!
Hunter is an 8 year old border collie/golden retriever who loves hiking. I talked about him more in this post:
He’s really great! Thanks so much for reading and for the reminder to slow down and enjoy everything! It’s easy to get caught up 🙂