THIS is the day….

But NOT the One I Planned for…

NOT the day I make my announcement that I’m going to attempt a thru hike.
NOT the day I post the iconic pic of my finalized gear all spread out, but tightly placed within the Instagram rectangle.
NOT the day I post my Lighter Pack list for all the hiking world to see and critique.
NOT the day I start my thru hike.
NOT the day I anticipated or dreamed of.

THIS is the day I announce that my hike has ended before it even had a chance to begin.


You know the saying. No matter how much planning you put into something, doesn’t necessarily ensure that it will happen.  Sadly, this is my reality.  It applies to me and to anyone else out in hiker world whose plans have gone sideways, been derailed, crushed, stomped on, or stolen. Whatever happened…your thru hike plans are no longer in the works for 2022. You researched, you planned, you worked, you saved, you hiked, you bought gear, you tested gear, you bought more gear, you hiked more, you worked on strengthening your body, mind, and bank account to handle a 6 month walk in the woods. It’s no small task. Some of us planned for years, some for months. But the planning becomes your world and you share it with your family, friends, loved ones, and your social media connections. Many of us even have a countdown for how many days til our “start date.”   Mine is 51 days, 21 hours, 36 minutes, and 25 seconds at the time of the writing of this sentence. I used to look at my start date with so much anticipation and energy…nerves, fear, excitement, panic, disbelief, elation, worry, thrill…all of the feelings!!!


A bomb dropped and my world changed forever. The life I thought I had no longer existed, maybe never existed in the first place. My husband of 35 YEARS, with whom I have three adult kids, and two grandkids ripped my life out from under me and tore it into pieces. He was, I thought, my biggest supporter, my encourager, my lifeline. He was going to meet me on trail every so many weeks. He was going to book hostels, hotels, or shuttles when needed. He was going to be there for my zero days, send me resupplies, check the weather, and guide me as I walked from Georgia to Maine!  He was going to be my hello in the morning and my goodnight at hiker midnight. He was my everything.


I can hardly look at my backpack…it represents a dream stolen and over a year of wasted anticipation and planning. At the moment the wind has been sucked out of my sails, the pep is no longer in my step, and my ability to visualize myself standing on the sign at Katahdin is gone. Truly a dream stolen.

At this point in time, it’s all I can do to breathe every day. There are logistics that need to be figured out just to live a normal life now, finances that are complicated, a house and all the contents within to sell, a lifetime of memories to reposition, a new family dynamic to maneuver, and a new me to discover.


I was already starting to discover me before my world fell apart. For me to even think of taking on such an epic adventure alone was not who I ever thought I was. My whole life has been mostly defined by what I have allowed to happen to me, rather taking the lead to make things happen. I have been a passive bystander, a dependent person, a non-risk taker for most of my life. But now, as a 54 year old empty nester, I was walking forward to find my brave, my strong, my independent self. All of these things would, I thought, make me a better person, a better wife, a better mom, friend, coworker… a better human. I counted on finding these things on the trail as I walked…taking each step in faith and growing along the way.



New beginnings, new life, strength, peace….THIS is the meaning of Koru. It’s a symbol I attached to after a section hike in Greyson Highlands last year. We went into the outfitter in Damascus after the hike and I found this necklace with this symbol and I immediately connected to it thinking, “hey, that’s me! It’s time to figure out who I am now that my kids are grown and off living their own adult lives… a time to start something fresh and new within myself…time for growth and new adventures…a time for getting outside of my bubble and doing life with intention.”


I love ferns!  I love finding them while I’m hiking, I love having them in my yard.  I even have a tattoo of one on my arm. The Koru symbol is the unfurling of a new fern frond. These are amazing little beauties and the fact that they are representative of new life, growth, strength, peace, and the beauty of life in a new season is just exactly me right now …or at least it will be eventually.  Currently, I’m still in the dirt, trying to climb my way out of the dark. But one day, I will be this unfurling fern, making my way toward the light of each new day, growing stronger and braver, seeking beauty, finding peace, and creating a new life for myself that will involve hiking again. I will look at my backpack and want to take it out on an adventure again…one day.


In a previous post, I mentioned that my daughter made this banner for me for my hike, but little did she or I know that it would serve me in a bigger way before I could even think of using it on my hike. I have a lot of life to tackle first. So here’s to EVERY thru hiker wannabe whose dreams for a thru hike got crushed this year.

“YOU GOT THIS”   …whatever it is you are going through or dealing with!


Walk through the hard and come out stronger on the other side.

Here’s to 202?

The year of my thru hike is now undetermined. But I am not going to let my dream die. I am going to take back what was stolen from me and make it mine again.

One day.

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Comments 10

  • pearwood : Jan 28th

    Ouch, Carla. That hurts.
    A day at a time. You matter.
    Steve / pearwood

  • Jon Bonnett : Jan 28th

    No need to stop, unless he’s dying of cancer or something. (That’d be a valid excuse.) If it’s an affair or divorce, or him simply being a jerk and not supporting you, then maybe you NEED to walk away and use this as an opportunity to sort things out for who you want to be and where you want your new life to go. On the flip side, I’ve learned you’ve got to rely on yourself to go where you want to go in life. I already figured I’d be lucky if my wife or kids came by to see me once or twice on an epic trek…I definitely wasn’t going to plan out a detailed laundry list of tasks for them to do for me when I’m gone. Good luck. Hope you get your trail legs back soon.

  • Julie : Jan 29th

    This is not your year, but there is a year in the future that will be your AT year. I totally understand revamping your life. As I age I’m amazed at how much more in tune I am with me. Take your time. Get your world settled in a way that helps mends your heart. Surround yourself with people that support your Koru. The trail will be there for you when you are ready.

  • Karla : Jan 29th

    I am so sorry for your hurt and pain. The trail is not going anywhere. Right now, the logistics in your life require your attention. However, one day, when it’s the right time, the AT will be a journey of healing and moving forward. Praying for you during this difficult time. Dulcigirl, AT2016

  • thetentman : Jan 29th

    I feel your pain. My marriage ended after 27 years. Not a total surprise but a shock and huge life-shaking disappointment. It sounds like you need a hike. Go when you are ready. The trail will provide, in more ways than one.

    Good luck.

  • Crossword : Jan 29th

    That is a tough one. But it is a new beginning, not the end. You got this!

  • MG Hibionada : Feb 3rd

    This is very heavy, Carla. I’m so sorry this is what you’re dealing with. I hope you can take time to yourself, heal, and continue to achieve this goal.

  • Beth : Feb 10th

    A journey isn’t linear – it really is circular… Koru symbolism. This pain you are working through are part of your journey… I think of Gymnast Simone Biles. She withdrew from competition during the Olympics for self care. The trail head will always be there for you. Lean on forest bathing and a good workout climb up a hill with a view at the top… these are your tools you have in your back pocket to help with coping. Also – lean in on your friends for support.

  • Jenny Reed : Feb 1st

    As I get ready to begin my own thru hike attempt this year, I have been reading others experiences from last…. I hope time has helped bring a bit of healing to you Carla.


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