All I Want to be Is Hiker Trash

“Promise me you won’t become a pretentious thru-hiker.”-My best friend

Coming Out

So it turns out that I want to be a pretentious thru-hiker. And I come by it honestly. I am very lucky to have grown up with a gearhead father and grandfather who spent their summers hiking and climbing around national parks together out west.  I love to hear their stories of adventure, dig through piles of old camping gear, and I covet their vintage Patagonia collections.

I have only tasted the dirtbag life, having wandered into the backcountry for at most a couple of weeks at a time, but I’ve chased it ever since, leaving me wanting to experience the mysterious culture more.

I think in this case there’s only one road to reach self-actualization, and that is to hop on a long-distance trail.  For me the journey will begin in Georgia, and continue through Maine on the AT in 2020.

Hiker Trash Adjacent

Allow me to elaborate. I exist in a spot right next to hiker trash.  Farm and garden trash.  From my understanding they share some similarities.  Crocs are considered acceptable footwear, the layer of dirt and sweat that covers your body at the end of the day is a badge of honor, it is deemed reasonable to eat your weight in tacos at the end of the week. I could go on.

For the past two years I have spent every waking moment of my life living and breathing plants at Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. I have had the opportunity to live and learn with countless inspiring people, grow some of my own food, and dive deep into public horticulture.  It’s an industry I love, and something I am bringing on the trail with me.

Fast and Dirty Field Botany

I have the very rare opportunity to pursue a dream and to bring my work with me to the AT.  The broad study and applied practice of ecology is important to my work in public gardens, but it is even more valuable to organizations like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  It is for this reason that during my thru-hike, not only will I aspire to be the best hiker trash that I know that I can be, but I will also conduct a survey of the notable flora along the AT. By cataloging things like interesting species, bloom times, and location, the data will result in a plant nerd’s dream list of native East Coast flora, and maybe shine some light on the current ecological health of the trail.

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Comments 4

  • Amy Mitchell : Nov 10th

    I lived it!!! Can’t wait to hear more!

  • Bridget : Nov 10th

    Love your enthusiasm!
    I interned at Longwood in 1990 and then was fortunate enough to land a job there. That feeling of connecting with like minded plant enthusiasts is amazing. I currently garden on MDI in Maine, such an amazing place. Best of luck on your travels, soo looking forward to following!

  • Gene : Nov 13th

    Hi Meredith Mitchell
    Hope to see you out there I start on springer mountain approach 2-1-2020.
    I retire 20 days before my hike and this is my first Solo hike and my first overnight hike I say go big or go home : ) I will make it to Maine and that is where I spent the first 25 years of my life. so look forward to this Journey and meeting many Great people like your self. Tired of the Tech world and looking forward to Nature. Love the simple things in life and I will be experiencing the world with less man made distractions. : ) love the sound of the wind, Smell of the trees, and night light skies with out city lights. Enjoy your journey as I will mine. May God Bless you with Peace and love for all , hold you close and protect you as he has done for me.

  • Alyssa : Mar 2nd

    Meredith, you’re killing it, you piece of trash, you. Can’t wait to hear more about your travels, both in terms of plant sightings, and of course potential ‘squatch glimpses. If anyone can make it happen, it’d be you.


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