Thru-Hiking the AT: Preparation and Intentions
Hiiiii friends. I am so glad you’re here reading some of my words. I’ll try not to bore you too much. I figured I’d introduce myself a bit before getting into why I’m going out there. Soooo, hi! My name is Therese—pronounced like Theresa, but without the “a.” (Can you tell I get that question a lot? Heh heh.) I grew up in West Palm Beach, FL, so my childhood access to mountains was nonexistent. I think the most elevation I had ever experienced living in South Florida was the local dump. But hey, we’ve got great beaches, right? When I graduated from high school I moved to Tallahassee and got my degree in environmental science from Florida State (FSU). Since graduating I have traveled around the country a few times trying to find my niche. I lived in the Pacific Northwest for a year and while I deeply admired the access to nature I didn’t feel it was the right time for me to be there. In accepting that, I decided to move back to the East Coast where I could prepare/save/train for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
I have long been in love with the idea of thru-hiking the AT, but was unsure about when it would weave itself into my life. Turns out, that time is now. My focus this last year and a half was to ready my body and mind for the trail. To do so, I have read countless books, articles, and blogs, watched more YouTube videos than I could count (or would want to count), purchased gear, read about gear, replaced it with different gear, put gear to the test and replaced it again. It’s been a lot. Physically I focused mainly on endurance exercises—many, many long runs and bike rides and lots of strength training. At this point in time, I feel as ready as I can be. Being 100% prepared for any journey with as many variables as the AT is, i’m slowly learning, a nearly impossible feat.
The Countdown Begins
The starting line is fast approaching—four days from now my feet will touch the dirt and head north. In these last few weeks before leaving, the focus of my preparation has shifted significantly from physical to mental. I’ve begun to recognize how deeply one’s attitude determines one’s experience on the trail. Finishing this thru-hike will require a substantial amount of grit and perseverance. Nothing worth doing comes easy. Bring on the rain, the cold nights/warm days, the bugs, the aches and pains. I am looking forward to being humbled. The Appalachian Trail has long called to me for reasons I am still trying to decipher. The challenge of completing a nearly 2,200-mile trek intrigues me beyond compare. The nerves and fear are very much real, but at the core of all my doubt there is intense (Or should I say “in-tents”? Hah, get it? Love me some dad jokes.) excitement and curiosity for all that is to come.
What I Left Behind
To commit to this journey I had to say goodbye to a job I loved in a city I sorta loved filled with people I love more than anything. It’s never easy to close a chapter of your life, but sometimes there is a part of you that knows you have to. It will never be convenient to quit your job and move into the woods. You will second-guess yourself a hundred times and question your own commitment. It’s my hope that when it comes time to hike up to that Southern Terminus that all of the doubt, the fear, and the worry become silenced and is replaced with self-assurance and a sense of composure. “You did the right thing.” Life is too short an experience to not do what it is you dream of. I believe if something calls to you, especially if you aren’t sure why, that you should listen to it. Here we go, baby!
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