What’s the Rush? I’m Hiking at My Own Pace

There has been something happening to me since the Smokies, and I think it’s time that I finally write about it. I didn’t really want to share this continuous  experience since… well, because it’s negative.

In my eyes I want to believe that the AT is filled with nothing but magic; magical landscapes, magical moments, magical people. But news flash; the trail is like the rest of the world, and has its bad sides just like everything else.

It has the beautiful mountain peaks, and miles of scratchy weeds.

It has morning sunrises on McAfee Knob, and cold nights filled with thunderstorms.

It has people who restore your faith in humanity, and people who will judge your hike immediately after one. little. question.

“When did you start?”

I started hiking the Appalachian Trail on Feb. 26, 2018, and for some reason people seem to find that very amusing.

I have had people raise eyebrows, gasp in disbelief, and legit laugh in my face when I tell them I started in February.

At first I didn’t understand why, but then it would all make sense when I ask these surprised people the same question and they respond with:

“April blank.”

I am so sad that people are judging my hiking pace. I realize that these other hikers are laughing at me because they have covered the same amount of miles as me in a shorter amount of time.

I think the thing that makes me the most upset is that I know if I wanted to finish the trail in four months, then I could. I could hike 20 miles every day, and only take one zero a month. I could put my head down and get miles out like nobody’s business if I needed to, but that is not the way I wanted to experience the AT.

I finally understand the phrase “Hike your own hike” after feeling judged by some of the fellow hikers on the trail.

I am taking my time because that was the biggest piece of advice I got from past thru-hikers before I hit the trail.

“Don’t rush.”

“Take your time.”

“It goes by to fast.”

“Enjoy it.”

And that is what I am doing. Enjoying the trail, to me, is taking my time and hiking 900 miles in more than three months.

Hike your own hike everyone, and support everyone you meet. At the end of the day we are all in this together.


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Comments 16

  • Jackson Shockley : Jun 10th

    Good for you!..I’m 58 years old, lost both my parents last year…Hiking the AT is an individual journey….judging someone’s motivation without knowing, only exhibits ones true lack of intellect..
    I’m thinking of starting Feb.17, 2019…my birthday.
    And…I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks..lol
    Safe Travels….

    • Brewerbob : Jun 11th

      If you’ve been planning a thru-hike for years like most, then you already know what a start date that early means. FYI (for you or anyone else reading along), 8 of the 10 highest peaks on the A.T. are between GA and VA. A Feb 17 start date can get you in big trouble if not properly prepared. Just a word of caution, nothing more. I, too, would like an early start date. Back to the regularly scheduled program and HYOH!!

    • Keri s : Jun 12th

      When all is said and done….no other person will get you to the end but YOU. Ignore those who lack the insight and intellect to know that. They obviously are hiking for the approval and praise of others. Do what you need to do for your own experience… I appreciate your story and Next year I will follow your advice. HYOH 😊

  • Daddy Longlegs : Jun 10th

    Go KD!
    “last one to Katahdin wins”
    Stay present in the moment and enjoy the trip. It’ll be over before you know it. You are doing it the right way: YOUR Way
    Happy Trails!

  • Anne aka Quiet Storm : Jun 10th

    I section hike so I’ve encountered different ‘bubbles’ and mini-bubbles since February. I hear hikers talk about mileage more than any other subject. It always makes me wonder since I know if I could thru hike I would probably hike like you. I’m usually on a tight schedule since I have to get back to work. I admire and envy your chance to hike the AT and actually experience it. Good luck with the rest of your hike.

  • Randy : Jun 10th

    I am proud of you and am saddened by people being judgmental. I think you are doing a wonderful job and can’t wait to read more from you in the future!

  • Luis : Jun 10th

    Can you imagine, anyone sailing around the world, and not stop to Tango in Argentina, Paella in Spain, Lobster in Main, Sourdough in San Francisco, Boomerang in Australia, Say “Hi” to ol’ friends in New Zealand, Fandango in Portugal, Watch the Change of the Guard in London, Mofongo in Puerto Rico, check the tortoises in Galapagos, Ceviche in Peru, Mangú in the Dominican Republic, Salsa dance in Colombia, Moroccan tea in Casa Blanca, Checking out the Parthenon in Greece, Shish Kabob in Turkey, Pizza in Sicily, Run the Bulls in Pamplona, real Tacos in Mexico, Sushi in Japan
    If your interest is to pound the earth on every step, and that is the meaning of your trip, then, that’s O.K. you are hiking you own hike.
    To me, the voyage is the sum of the experiences and trail surprises… sometimes slow, sometimes fast… that’s “Hike your own hike”

  • Thomas “ TC “ : Jun 10th

    Rock on KD,

    No worries. Hike your own hike. Make your own adventure. Do your own thing. You only live life once. Make it your own. Enjoy it to the max. Make your own memories and enjoy the hell out of them.

  • Marcos / AK “salami” : Jun 11th

    You got that right !
    I wasn’t that hiker when I started JMT but when I went back and finished PCT ; I learned my lesson

  • Brewerbob : Jun 11th

    To the other hikers that started in April… “Holy hell, that’s more than 45 days, 12 hrs, and 15 minutes (the record) and you’re only half way done?!? You must really suck at hiking!!!”

    My only comment to your “schedule” is I hope you aren’t passing up any of the blue blazes (side trails). If/when I get my chance, I hope to have your schedule (not your weather; terrible year weather wise); a Feb start and a Sept/Oct finish. I want enough time to do the blue blazes. I want enough time to zero for a week when the knees go south while I’m headed north. I won’t zero (much) in the DC, NYC areas only because I’ve been there many times before. I’ll zero at some little village in New England because the pizza is good and the beer is better. As Daddy Longlegs said “Last one there wins.” If there’s no chance of you breaking the record, what the hell is the point of rushing? USE ALL THE TIME YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN!!!! Smell all the roses, and the dandelions, and whatever other flowers there are.

  • Ruth morley : Jun 11th

    Excellent, excellent, excellent! You’ve got a great perspective. I’m with you and the other insightful comments 100%.

    I’m wondering when it was that the trend has turned towards the opinion that thruhiking and 20+ mile days are the “best” way to experience the AT. This wasn’t the intent when the trail was conceived and created. It’s here so that those of us in the eastern half of the US have access to time in nature. It’s not a competition.

    Enjoy your trek. You’ve got a great perspective.

  • Rock N’ Roll : Jun 12th

    Shake the haters home slice. I started March 20th and I just hit 400 miles. I also went zorbing and I’ve taken 25 zeros. SidePony and I are chilling out max and relaxing all cool and hiking the trail as if we were laying by the pool. Not many opportunities in life to be this free. You get what YOU need. If I see you on the trail we shall high five. -Rock N’ Roll and SidePony *Zero Queens* 0👑 2018

  • Ziptie : Jun 12th

    You hike your own hike!
    I set a world record in slowness on my flipflop – started in Harper Ferry April 16, made it to Katahdin in mid September, had to leave the trail at Roanoke, VA in mid October. I still have 700 miles to go.

    Not a trace of regret. I’ll finish in my own time and my own way, and …. That is what it is all about!

  • Wizard : Jun 12th

    One of the most important things that I’ve learned from 1000’s of trail miles is not to give a **** about what other hikers say. Mileage, gear, food, it’s just their opinion, do whatever works for you. Take your time and enjoy the adventure, you may never have the opportunity to do it again. When criticized, I would ask, “Are you paying for my hike? Then why do I care what you have to say?”

  • ATeam : Jun 12th

    Do whatever it takes to enjoy your adventure! We did a 300 mile LASH from Massachusetts to Maine in 2010. We’d sleep in until we were rested, howdy the through hikers while we enjoyed our morning coffee in camp, hike/stroll until we were tired, nap by streams mid-day, hike a little more & call it a day after about 12 miles (average). The best 6 weeks of my life! Keep making the most of your hike.

  • Bryan Goodwin : Jun 14th

    Great point the adventure isn’t how fast you get to you destination. The adventure is the time between starting and arriving at your destination.


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