Trans Continental: A Sober LGBTQ Thru-Hiker’s Introduction
Who Am I?
Name: Lyla Harrod (she/her)
Trail Name: Don’t have one yet!
Thru-Hike Direction: NOBO
Start Date: Late March/Early April 2021
Astrological Sign: Aries
Favorite Ninja Turtle: Michaelangelo
Hey friends, Lyla Harrod here. I’m writing from a laptop in my living room with Josie, the elderly dachshund snoozing on me, and my second cup of coffee well underway. Let’s talk.
Some basics, I’m a 33 year old sober queer trans woman who’s planning to hike NOBO in late March/early April 2021. I live in the Boston, MA area and I work in youth development! I’ve been backpacking for about a decade, but never anything longer than a few days at a time. I started backpacking when I was 23 while living in Seattle, where the Cascades and Olympics were always in easy reach for me. I moved back to the east coast about eight years ago and my love and respect for the Whites and Berkshires deepens each year.
Why Am I Blogging for The Trek?
Well, it’s certainly not my outdoor pedigree. My biggest goal is to contribute to the pretty thin library of experiences documented by transgender women on the AT. I haven’t found many solid resources related to thru-hiking as a transgender woman, so if you know of others please DM them to me on my instagram @seltzerskelter so I can read and share them!
Blogging for The Trek is a way to share my experiences with friends, family and the outdoor community, but also as a way to document my experiences for myself. My absolutely terrible memory (years of unbridled substance use will do that!) necessitates something concrete to look back on to keep me close to the trail, long after I’ve hopefully summited Katahdin, so blogging it is!
Why Am I Hiking?
I’ll eventually share my list a la Badger’s recommendation from Appalachian Trials, but in short… I’m hiking the AT as I stand at a crossroads in my life after tackling major life challenges over the past 3 years. Getting sober when I was 30 years old, it became painfully clear that I had the “adulting” abilities of a 14 year old. I slowly learned how to live and stay sober with the help of a 12-step program of recovery.
After I stopped drinking and using drugs, I was able to address the other massive elephant in the room, my gender. Only after quitting alcohol and drugs was I strong enough to face myself and to speak the truth I’d known deep down, that I’m transgender. That first realization was only the first challenge in the rollercoaster ride that became my life for the next 3+ years as I came out personally, socially, and professionally and went through the long process of gender transition.
Now that those challenges have receded into the background, I’m looking forward. I’m healthier and living more authentically than I ever dreamed possible a few years ago. When living in active addiction, my world was small, my options were narrow and my capacity for growth was zero. Now that so many doors have been opened for me, I’m faced with the exhilarating and horrifying reality that I’m responsible for my own life and that I need to decide what I want, what I value, and how I live. I hope that during my hike I’ll be able to develop a vision for my future that’s authentic to me.
What Fears/Concerns Do I Have Going In?
Funny how the things that scare me most aren’t even necessarily the most “dangerous”… I’ll write about these issues more in subsequent posts, so stay tuned.
In order of intensity of fear:
- Transphobia from folks in town (specifically in the South)
- Ticks/Lyme Disease
- Lack of trans competence from other Thru-Hikers (getting frequently misgendered, intrusive questions from strangers)
- Running out of money
- Staying sober
What Am I Looking Forward To Most?
There’s a billion other things, but these are the ones that bubbled up so let’s go with it.
In order of intensity of excitement:
- WILD PONIES AT GRAYSON HIGHLANDS!!!!$^(##^$(#%
- Getting to hike all day every day
- Not having to work
- Time to reflect and envision how I want to spend the next chapter of my life
- Making lots of new friends who appreciate the outdoors like I do!
- Hiker hunger
- Swimming holes
Follow My Trek!
If you’ve made it this far, hell yeah. Thanks. With that in mind, I’d love to have you follow along with my experience, pre, during and post my thru-hike of the AT. The best way to do that is to follow my Instagram, @seltzerskelter and to subscribe to my posts directly on The Trek!
I’m excited to share myself and my experiences with you all, and I would love to hear from you too!
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