Walking Thru It.

Hi, I’m Nugget! I like jammy eggs and long walks through the woods. Like, really long walks. Actually, a 2192 mile long walk where my partner, Harry, and I carry everything we might need to survive in the woods for 6 months. And definitely not like Bear Grylls where they have to eat snakes for nutrition but more like Little Red Riding Hood carrying cookies (LOTS of cookies???) and skipping through the forest. ?

While I definitely don’t smell nearly as good as the girl going to grandmas house, I also entered the woods two months ago completely oblivious and wildly afraid of the creatures that occupied them. I had worked up the images in my mind of the bears?, snakes?, and just recently the COUGARS that have been spotted in Virginia but, by far the most frightening beast I have faced out here was myself. Since that day this journey began on March 13th, 2019 I have not only gained muscle but I’ve realized an internal awareness of just how vulnerable I can be and how I have fought this to the deep deep corners of my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally vulnerable to the rain, wind, snow, ticks, bears, the list goes on!

When I started to even think about hiking the Appalachian Trail, I was like “it’s going to be so much fun!” being outdoors all day long, seeing beautiful views, and not having the stress of work to take home with me. I literally thought hiking the Appalachian Trail would be calming and stress-free. Instead, I had time that I normally preoccupied in my normal life with work/thinking about work/throwing pottery in my spare time/what to cook for dinner/my partner Harry/my dog Pepper/my widowed mother/anything else I could possibly think about to dangerously avoid thinking about nothing and even less so thinking about myself.

At my most raw moments out here I have realized that I am only vulnerable to myself.

That right there is the truth.
And the main reason I want to share this journey from this specific point on.
The point at which I came face to face with the reality of the Appalachian Trail.
That time slows down and forces me to think about every little detail of my life.
Like, how face planting into the mud just outside of Nantahala reminded me of falling face first into my cafeteria tray at school when I was 5. And how embarrassed I was and honestly, still kind of am still affected by this moment that happened almost 20 years ago!
Over and over and over again.
Innocent, and realistically insignificant, thoughts like these would arise frequently but sometimes, especially after zoning out walking along ridges, my mind would go much deeper.

I would think about the series of events over the last 7 years that led up to this decision to hike the Appalachian Trail.

When I left my job, “But, why?”
When I told my mother, “What do you mean? You’re going to live in the woods for 6 months?”
When I looked at myself in the mirror at Neels Gap 2 days into the trail, “What are you doing?”
I actually still ask myself this question weekly.

But, even more often I’m asking myself questions that I haven’t had the time to process in the past.
So with all this being worked(or walked) through, I have officially made the decision to process it all on my thru hike and here as I type on my phone.

Also, through experimenting cooking on trail and random thoughts I might have while climbing up mountains.

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Comments 1

  • Toni Olin : May 12th

    Jessica, I am so very proud of you and I know for a fact that your Dad would be very proud of you too! I pray everyday that he watches out for you, his little girl and Harrison too! I love you so much, you make me so happy to be a mother on a day like today. Be safe and I can’t wait to see you. Hugs and kisses to both of you! Mommy


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