This “Unprepared” Hiker Made It to Katahdin!

Hey everyone—long time no see! I know I dropped off of this blog very early on in my hike, but I did summit Mt. Katahdin on October 8th after completing all 2,193.1 miles of the Appalachian Trail. It became clear to me pretty quickly that I was not going to keep up with blogging. At the end of the day, I found myself wanting to hang out with my friends or wind down from a long day of hiking. When in town I found myself wanting to relax and not feel any need to write. I was putting pressure on myself to keep up with posts for the first few hundred miles, but I eventually let go of that and allowed myself to enjoy the hike without any expectations. Having said all that, I did want to follow up now that I’ve completed my hike and had some time to reflect.

The final steps of the descent down Katahdin.

Early on, I wrote a post about how much I was struggling during the first week of my hike and what a disaster my 5th day on the trail was. I lost my water filter, I was stranded in town in an expensive hotel room by myself, I had possibly the worst sunburn of my life, just to name a few things. Someone who is well-known in the hiking community commented on my post claiming that I wasn’t properly prepared and that this was why 75% of those who begin a thru-hike do not finish. I knew it wasn’t personal, but this did not sit with me well because I had spent hundreds of hours obsessively preparing for this hike. This person knew nothing about me, nothing about my mental fortitude. Lucky for me, instead of causing me to doubt myself, this lit a fire inside and I was more determined than ever to finish. Sure I had many hiccups in those early days but guess what – I found a shuttle out of town, I picked up a bottle of sunscreen at Mountain Crossings, I bought a new water filter in the next town, and I was stronger because of all of it.

The rocks on this trail were constantly testing me.

More than six months later I can safely say that I had days that were much worse than my “Day Five Disaster.” My pack was stolen in New Jersey and never found, I made a trip to the ER, I processed the end of a serious relationship, and I battled severe anxiety in New England. Through all of that, I never considered quitting or skipping a single mile. I learned how to deal with each hardship as it came my way and I pushed on with a stubbornness that I knew was going to lead me to Katahdin as long as I was physically able to walk.

New pack and gear after mine were stolen.

No one will EVER be 100% prepared for a thru-hike. If there is anyone out there who is thinking of attempting one, know that you can do it as long as you expect things to go wrong and are flexible and adaptable enough to pivot as those setbacks occur. Barring any injury or illness, there is nothing that will be thrown at you that you cannot handle if you want Katahdin badly enough. As long as you do not give up, you will learn and figure out the rest as you go. As long as you are willing to push yourself out of your physical and mental comfort zones, you will continue to move forward. Don’t doubt yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do this on your own because you absolutely can.

The climb up Katahdin.

Congratulations to the rest of the AT Class of 2021, and best wishes to the Class of 2022! Maybe I’ll be better at blogging my next hike 🙂

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Comments 11

  • pearwood : Nov 8th

    Yay, Laurie!

  • Emily : Nov 8th

    WOOHOO!! So proud of you!! Never doubted you for a second! Love you!!

  • Samantha Neville : Nov 9th

    Congrats! Very encouraging post. This will inspirie someone to push through the adversity if not many someones.

  • Paul : Nov 9th

    Congrats on finishing…what was the story around the stolen pack?

    • TaffyUK : Nov 9th

      I was thinking the same, more details please.

  • Hannah R Goodman : Nov 9th

    I am so proud of you for not letting the haters get to you! It sounds like all of those hardships thrown your way have made you a stronger person and you are better because of it. And congrats on completing your thru-hike!!

  • JC : Nov 9th

    Congratulations on your finish, your accomplishment, and proving the naysayers wrong!

  • CMA : Nov 9th

    Don’t call Laurie unprepared! Love your determination, your guts, your strength! Congratulations. Perhaps even the person “who is well-known in the hiking community” has learned something. 🙂

  • Kate : Nov 10th

    I’m so impressed! Amazing and congratulations!

  • LG : Nov 10th

    Congratulations. The AT is a great accomplishment. Your growth mindset (Dweck) and Grit (Duckworth) carried you through. The joy from tapping into the basics of human survival we were built for, relying on your wits and honing your skills could never be explained to that naysayer anyway. I subscribed and would love to read more.

  • tasmaine : Nov 10th

    Congratulations! I’m glad you made it *your* hike and it sounds like it helped make you as well. I’m also glad to know that you finished, since I did see your early posts. As a long time Mainer (almost 40 years), I hope to make it up Katahdin soon.


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