Why I’m Hiking

Oh what’s that? I should introduce myself, give some of my backstory and my “why” lists before I dive head first into my non-gearhead neuroticism…hmm.. that makes sense. Ok, but too late because I already posted about my REI-induced anxiety.

So I will just start now. Well, my name is Leah, I’m from Alaska. I have lived in Montana, New Zealand, Austin, Alaska, Massachusettes and South Korea. I swam in college and have worked as a swim coach since I graduated. I love travel and have been to over 20 countries. I love to ski and spent 4 winters at a ski resort. I used to have a badass conversion van. When I was 22 I bought a ticket to Bangkok, landed at 1 am and figured it out.I had nothing planned my flight home 3 months later. I make fun a priority in my life. But I also value social justice and finding work with purpose. I’m working really hard to figure it all out.

In March, I’m embarking on a solo North Bound trek of the Appalachian trail and I’m…everything. Scared, excited, anxious,nervous, giddy, wondering if I am overestimating or underestimating the trail. But mostly, I’m excited.

The seed for hiking the AT was planted in my head about 6 years ago when my friend took off for the trail. She crushed it and it changed her life. I always thought it was her thing and never thought it was something I could do. Until I started thinking maybe it was. Then I started to daydream, then I started to research, then I started blocking out time, then I started buying gear. Now, I’m committed.

Every year I watch as over a thousand people stand up and throw their hats in the AT ring. I can’t help but think if they can make this dream a reality, why can’t I? Why not me? Why not this year? So I’m standing up and throwing my hat in the ring. I believe I can do it, and I reallly can’t wait to find out.

Without further adieu, in Appalachian Trials Fashion, here are MY lists:

I am Thru-Hiking the AT because:

  • It’s the most badass thing I have heard of, and I want to do the most bad ass thing I have heard of
  • I know I can
  • I want to be an athlete again, a true athlete and experience the feelings I had in college of total exhaustion and satisfaction mixed with meaning and fulfillment, and the camaraderie that only stems from teamwork
  • I want to show other women if I can, they can
  • I want to diminish my self-limiting beliefs
  • I want to give others a push  to go after their dreams
  • I want to push myself mentally, physically and emotionally and grow vastly from the experience
  • I want to spread a positive message of female empowerment, body acceptance, self-love and motivation
  • I want to have “those moments” that make everything in your life make sense even if just for a second
  • I want to feel peace, I want to feel freedom
  • I went a new appreciation and connection to the Earth
  • I want to raise $2,189 for SheLift
  • I just think it will be fun. And pretty.

When I succesfully Thru-Hike the AT I will:

  • Eat a lobster in Maine
  • Know that I DID the most badass thing I can think of
  • Hopefully have spread that message of positivity, female empowerment, body-acceptnace, motivation and self-love
  • Not die wondering, know that I got out of the bleachers and took my chance on the field. Lived as a player not spectator
  • Have raised $2,189 for SheLift
  • BE GAINFULLY EMPLOYED (or in school full time). Find work (or study) that is both fulfilling and leaves room for travel/adventure
  • Have direction, a plan, piece of mind, support from my parents
  • Have proved that I can take a dream, no matter how crazy and make it a reality. And if I can, you can. Period.

If I Give up on the AT I will:

Honestly, I am trying to practice a lot of slef-compassion. I believe that if I have to give up it will be for valid reasons, most likely ones out of my control like an injury, financial, an emergency, or an amazing opportunity I couldnd’t turn down. IF I would have to stop my journey for any reason I think it would be hard enough to face, I would feel horrible and a decision I would make very heavily. I am  trusting if  it comes to that it will be right for me in that time.  I don’t want to shame myself for it. I do want to push myself and I do want to know that I tried my VERY Best.

So there you have it. I think I’m a good bet because I am passionate, enthusiastic and positive. I have a hot pink sleeping bag, too. Oh, and the money I raise for SheLift goes to empowering girls of all body types including physical disabilites by utilizing outdoor excurisions and connection through mentorship to empower them by building their confidence  and taking them outside of their comfort zones. How cool is that? Donate here!

Thanks for reading, and see you out there!

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Comments 6

  • Chris G. : Dec 10th

    A Lobster in Maine?, I dont even like Lobster but I may have to steal that one for my list! Good luck on your quest for that Lobster.

    • Leah : Dec 11th

      haha, Thanks!! You, too. That lobster will be an extra good one!

  • Keith (Buckshot) Marr : Dec 11th

    Leah, It IS bad ass. It’s tough. It’s cool. You will meet more cool people than you ever dreamed of. Some even talk to themselves. Trail Angels are the best. The magic truly is Magic. You won’t expect it, then Bamm, there it is. Someone handing you an apple. A Church group making burgers. An ice chest filled full of drinks and beer, at a fire ring along the trail. People with stuff you need; band aids, Advil / Tylenol, knee braces, sunscreen, sunglasses, slightly used swim trunks, and so on. You just never know, but it always hits at the time you need it. It IS bad ass. Cold nights, windy rainy days, HOT days, dried up streams, mice riddled shelters. It’s all bad ass. No one has died from it. Plan well; take only what you need ( then dump some of that ), really really embrace the journey. I started March 1 2016, and didn’t finish due to an illness in the family. Had to come home. BUT, I’m going back in April at Harpers Ferry. I does change your life. It changes how you look at things, evaluating your needs ( your real needs), and it simplifies a lot of your life. Perhaps we will meet, perhaps not, BUT we will forever be connected by the trail.

    • Leah : Dec 11th

      THANK YOU. I hope we do meet, if not happy hiking!!

  • Deven : Mar 27th

    Wow, Leah. 20 countries! Bangkok at 22! I didn’t know these things… you are really cool!! I mean, I already knew that… but when all the experiences and goals are put together – holy moly! 🙂

  • Deven : Mar 27th

    Being an athlete! Yay!!!! You are an athlete! I am proud of you!


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