Why Do You Want to Hike the Appalachian Trail?

Hello all! I’m Liz, or “Overkill” on the trail. I’m originally from Texas but moved to Maryland a few years ago with my husband and daughter to be closer to family. I’m embarking on a NOBO (northbound) thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, or AT, in late March.

Hiking is relatively new to me; until about a year and a half ago, I hadn’t even heard of the AT. But I’ve always loved being outside, and walking in the woods in particular. The combination of the birdsong, the solitude, and the sheer level of green surrounding me has always given me a very deep peace. I discovered the AT in the fall of 2022 when I spent an afternoon in Shenandoah National Park.

I have very fond memories of driving through those mountains on family vacations when I was young, and when I returned as an adult, they gave me both a humbling sense of my own smallness as a short-lived human beside these rocks that have existed for millions of years, and an intense gratitude that I get to see and walk among them. While in the park, I picked up a map that laid out the 500 miles of trails within its borders, including 103 miles of the AT. The more I read about the AT and the more YouTube videos I watched of other hikers’ experiences, the more the idea of a thru-hike gripped me.

The enchanting beauty of the Shenandoahs


The Constant Question – Why?

Gosh, how much time to you have? There are many reasons I’ve set this goal for myself; some of them are deeply personal and some I share with other hikers. I want to challenge myself, I want to have an adventure while I’m young, and I plain love being in the woods. But the more I think about it, the more I find my reason to do the AT is how I feel about myself when I’m hiking.

I’ve never excelled in sports or exercise in general, but when I’m striding through the backcountry, I feel more powerful than I ever have before. The sense of accomplishment I get when finally reaching a peak or beating my own record for miles hiked in a day is overwhelming, and it fills me with pride and joy in myself and in my body. I live as a woman in 2024, so it’ll be no surprise that I’m surrounded by the message that my body isn’t thin enough, pretty enough, tall enough, “insert arbitrary adjective here” enough. Keeping myself from believing those messages is a battle, one I’m sure I share with many others. But when I’m hiking, all I feel about my body is pride – in my legs that have carried me up and over mountains, in my back that supports a 30+ pound pack, and in my lungs that (somehow) keep me huffing and puffing up those hills. I’ve never found such joy in exercise before, and that’s a feeling I want to chase.

Aspirations of Literary Brilliance

I can’t promise all my posts will be so philosophical. They’re more likely to contain gripes about my feet, the weather, the food, the weather, the rocks, and the weather. (It rains A LOT on the AT.) But hopefully I’ll be able to share many of the joys of the AT as well. I plan to post every week or so, and I’ll keep you updated on how many miles I’ve walked, how many remain, and how many times I’ve fallen. My bet is the fall count will be up to at least 20 by the time I summit Katahdin. Counting down the days until I set foot on Springer Mountain!

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Comments 5

  • jen l : Mar 11th

    Awesome! Can’t wait to hear more soon! Excited for you. Happy packing!

    • ALLAN K : Mar 12th

      Why do I want to hike the AT yo ask. So, I can sayI did. It’s been my dream since Natl Geo. did a article on it back in 1986. I was much younger then and like many other reasons – things got in the way. Now I’m 80 snd still dreaming.

  • Jen : Mar 11th

    So proud of you sis! You’re an absolute badass and I can’t wait to hear all about your journey.

  • Loretta Cook : Mar 12th

    I’ll be following and will ty to match your miles albeit flat terrain and urban!

  • Loretta Cook : Mar 27th

    Sounding like you’ve tested, selected ! It’s going to be grrat!


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