Travel Nurse to Thru-Hiker Intro

Heya, I’m Ashley!

Exactly 18 days ago I made a spur of the moment decision to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Oh yeah, and I start next month. Follow me along my journey that I was totally unprepared for.

My hesitant start at a gear list looked like this:

And by Feb. 5, my gear list had transformed into this monster:

P.S. Don’t read too closely since it’s changed. A full gear list is to come.

So, Who Are You, Again?

As you may know, my name’s Ashley. I’m 27 years old, mother to an eight-year-old tabby cat, and was born and raised in Tallahassee, FL.

I’ve worked as a registered nurse for over five years. I’m a certified emergency nurse and have been traveling around working in various emergency departments as a traveling nurse over the past two years. A travel nurse is an experienced nurse who works short contracts (which are usually three months or more) and moves around wherever the jobs are.

After gaining experience in Florida for three years, I ventured out as a travel nurse. Since then I’ve lived in New Orleans, LA; Charleston, SC; Columbia, SC; Kilmarnock, VA; and now Hampton, VA. So in addition to all the craziness that comes with planning a NOBO AT thru-hike with a little over a month to prepare, I also move back to Florida next week. I’m crazy as all get out.

In the midst of all this, I’m also applying for grad school to become a nurse practitioner (NP) and my goal is to either work as an NP in the emergency department when I graduate or to go into dermatology. I know, those two specialties are vastly different. But I can’t lie, I love all that Dr. Pimple Popper kind of stuff.

I’m one of those people who has too many hobbies. I enjoy watercolor and organize a watercolor challenge subreddit. I love baking, sewing, singing, cats, planners, cooking, seeing live music, and the outdoors. Are you surprised about that last one?

Ginne Springs, FL 2016.

Woodsy Roots

Growing up in Florida I had an amazing outdoorsy role model of a step-grandpa who never made me feel like a step-grandkid and who sparked my love of the outdoors. He made sure I knew how to swim, how to handle a paddle in the front of a canoe, how to use a compass (which I forgot), and how to not be afraid of snakes. He and my grandma would always take me canoeing, hiking, camping, and on family road trips. I’m keeping his love of the outdoors alive through my adventures.

I’m so grateful for those experiences I got to have while growing up.  Without them, who knows what other terrible hobbies I might be into instead of a love of the outdoors; like fashion or something. Just kidding. But really, I’m not very fashionable, so if you know anyone who is stylish please give them my information. I need their help.

Random Facts

My favorite number is nine, but I hate all other odd numbers.

I used to sing in a bluegrass band in high school. Obviously, this is when I really peaked and it’s been downhill since. Kidding! (not).

I once ate a tadpole.

My cat’s name is Dobby.


Till next time.

Ashley H.

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Comments 13

  • Denise Marie Ellison : Feb 13th

    You go girl. I am a WHNP and CNM. Much older than you. I will be on the JMT late August. You will probably be done by then. Should you decide to add another 200+ miles to your trek journal let me know. I would love to have you join me. Oh the fun night time discussions we would have. Placenta anyone? d

    • Ashley H. : Feb 13th

      Hahaha yay nurses! That kind of talk would have others hiking away faster than the hiker smell! I could have used your help last year with my first patient delivery in a rural ED without OB coverage! That was enough for me! Hahaha

  • Doc Williams : Feb 14th

    Wow. I have been planning and dreaming this trip for years. I give you kudos and am totally going to follow you on this one to see how it pans out. I do have to giggle, you saw the toothbrush in half to make room for a watercolor brush! Too funny!

    • Ashley H. : Mar 6th

      When the timing is right, you can’t ignore it! Hahaha! Small sacrifice, huh? Best of luck in your planning.

  • David D Lewis : Feb 14th

    Look at the cost of just your basic 4. No wonder people think a thru hike is cost prohibitive.

  • Indigo : Feb 15th

    Hi Ashley! Indigo here. I thruhiked in 2013 and My husband and I flipflopped last year/still have a few miles to go but we live in Norfolk, VA. Too bad you are moving soon otherwise we could do a pack shakedown up Mt Trashmore! Good luck and we might see you out there!

    • Ashley H. : Mar 6th

      Hiya Indigo! That’s too cool and would have been fun! I did a couple practice hikes through Noland Trail before leaving the area! Hope to see you out there.

  • Christy Mann Slotter : Feb 15th

    Good luck on your exciting adventure!

    Have fun and keep us updated <3


    p.s. Dobby is so cute!

    • Ashley H. : Mar 6th

      What’s up girly! Thanks so much and hope you’re doing great! <3

  • Cheryl : Feb 15th

    Hi Ashley, I’ve only done most of Georgia but I’ve seen rain, snow, high winds and heat on the AT. Just be prepared for weather changes. Good luck ! I’m looking forward to hearing about your trek. I will try to finish Georgia in May . Peace , Cheryl

    • Ashley H. : Mar 6th

      So be prepared for the unexpected? Haha sounds -sooo- easy! 😉 Thanks Cheryl I appreciate it especially from someone who has hiked it. Good luck on finishing up your Georgia hike, too 🙂

  • David Magee : Feb 17th

    Ashley I enjoyed your blog. While you have gone from travel nurse to AT Thru Hiker I have gone from Travel Nurse Company Owner to AT Hostel owner. When you hit the 395 miles mark NOBO in Roan Mountain stop into The Station at 19E​ and say hello. There will be a free craft beer waiting for you!

    • Ashley H. : Mar 6th

      Hey David! No kidding, what a small world! I’ve highlighted and put notes around The Station in my AT Guide so I’ll be sure to (especially for that craft beer, haha!) Looks like I’ll be there around May.


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