Committing to Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail

One Year Ago

A year ago today, 12/13/16, I was on assignment in Georgia and decided to go hiking in Amicalola Falls State Park. I remember purposefully not hiking any part of the approach trail. I told myself, “I’m going to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) one day and I want that time to be my first time.” Now, a year later I am at the cross roads, do I commit to thru hiking the Appalachian Trail?


No Reason Not To

When I read peoples struggles with deciding to hike the AT it’s always about having enough time, or not enough time. It takes on average 4-6 months to thru-hike the AT.  I can hit the trail Northbound in April or Southbound in May/June. Depending on when my next assignment/contract ends. I’m a travel nurse, so my schedule is flexible, really flexible, and I don’t have to ask for time off.

Not enough money, The Appalachian Trail Conservancy recommends $1,000 per month for the average hiker. I’ve been saving for some time, not for anything in particular, mostly dream trips. Like hiking the AT!

Those are both legitimate reasons, but neither of those are an issue for me. Not that I have unlimited money, but I probably do have unlimited time. At least until the money runs out!

I’ve been hiking for about five years, so having experience doesn’t worry me either, you know what does? Committing. Well commitment of any kind, but that’s a topic for another day.

Making the Commitment to Thru-Hike

How do I know that I’m supposed to take 4-6months to walk in the woods? How do I know that this is God’s plan for my life? How do I know if I should take my dogs or not? Can they even make it through a week? Those are big reasons/questions for me personally.

It seems that everything that has happened in the last year, or 5, has been propelling me towards this goal of mine, to thru hike the AT. A bucket list item.

I need to make the decision, commit. Realize that there’s nothing holding me back, except me. The journey would be a hard one, but hopefully life altering and soul awakening.

Now if I can just commit…


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Comments 13

  • Wanda Willoughby : Dec 13th

    I too am a nurse and on the other end of your age spectrum. Go for it..

    • Sarah Bradley : Dec 13th

      Thank you so much for the encouragement, for having a fellow nurses back. I do believe that no matter what part of the age spectrum you fall on you can hike too!

  • Ruth Nasrullah : Dec 13th

    Read Zach Davis’ book, Appalachian Trials. For real.

    • Sarah Bradley : Dec 13th

      I didn’t even know, I kinda feel like a traitor, sorry Zach. I’m going to get it right now!

  • stealthblew : Dec 14th

    Southbound is more difficult than northbound –

    Hiking is very hard on dogs. The trail can be rough on the pads, they were not bred to be pack animals, and generally really struggle unless they are in the prime of their lives (2-4 years of age) and are well looked after. Basically, if you put your dogs needs above everything else (including completing the journey) and they are fit, then it may be feasible. Do not be deceived by those who have successfully completed the trip with their pets. Most dogs do not make it all the way and many suffer before finally heading home.

    The trail over time tends to build one up physically, then mentally and finally spirtually. The AT is a wonderful place to become closer to the God residing inside your heart.

    One of Ray Jardine’s Books would be a good idea too. Succesful hikers enjoy themselves in the woods and this author has many novel ideals.

    Hard to think of a much better occupation for long distance hiking than nursing. Will always be a job waiting at the end of the trail

    Good luck …

    • Sarah Bradley : Dec 14th

      Thank you. I appreciate the insight!

  • Sarah : Dec 14th

    I am so excited to get to read about this journey as it unfolds! Also, I’m proud of you and j

    • Sarah : Dec 14th

      Wow, accidentally hit post.

      Anyway, I’m proud of this awesome goal that you’ve set out to achieve! I hope this journey is fantastic! Oh the stories you’ll have!

      • Sarah Bradley : Dec 14th

        Thank you for being here with and for me! I can’t wait to share all of the stories.

  • robert : Dec 15th

    The hardest part of any journey is to get started, one foot in front of the other, plan, and execute, you got this. If not now, then when???? God has you right where he wants you, take this opportunity and hike. Excited to follow along!!!

  • Josh Johnson : Dec 15th

    Go for it. Although the little (furry) ones don’t actually look up for a thru-hike. My understanding of the breed makes me feel like it will be too much on the hips… but hey, hike your own hike ?

  • Kelsey : Dec 20th


    I am a travel nurse too and I’m contemplating the same thing!


    • Sarah Bradley : Dec 21st

      I hope that you can hike the trail! I am doing it!


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