Why I’m hiking the AT.

Josh Goebel Gatewood Trail


There are 3 reasons why I really want to thru-hike the AT.

1. Opportunity


3. Inspiration

Not going to make this long story short. I have been active my entire life. I was a four sport Varsity athlete in high school, played collegiate and amateur level soccer, run road races all the time, coach soccer, play in every rec league I can find, work out quite a bit…basically I love to be active in any way possible.

Well, the spring after I graduated college, I was coaching XC at my alma mater and playing amateur soccer in Atlanta. I was having some ridiculous back pains, mainly whenever I was being active. I usually didn’t think anything of it and would just ice it and eat ibuprofen like candy! One day I decided to go see a doctor about this pain. Working for a university, I had some pretty boss insurance, so I figured “why not?” After some X-Rays and an MRI, I had to wait about a week for results, and then I went to see my doctor again…When I got there I really didn’t know what to expect, anyway the doctor was very blunt and straight forward with the information and the conversation went more or less like this,

Doctor: “You have a tumor in your hip. It is about the size of a baseball.”

Me: “Does this mean I can’t play soccer?”

Doctor: “I’m not sure you understand the seriousness of this matter. I’m surprised your iliac crest hasn’t shattered yet! You shouldn’t even be going out for a light jog, let alone running and playing a physical contact sport!”

Being told you shouldn’t move is probably the worst thing in the world, literally ranked! Well, within the next few weeks I was scheduled to have surgery to remove the tumor. After 3 failed attempts at an IV in my left arm by the nurse (I bet her $5 she couldn’t hit a vein in my left arm…I won) and one successful IV in my right arm, I went under the knife. Simple procedure really, they cut out a chunk of my right hip bone, scooped out the tumor like ice cream, inserted a bone graft into the hollowed out area, and put back the part of the bone they removed. They sent the tumor to find out if it was malignant or benign, it was benign! (What a relief) Since then, I have realized how unpredictable life can be, and if you don’t take advantage of certain opportunities, you may never get them again!


I have an opportunity to hike the Appalachian Trail and get a boss sponsorship to blog and hashtag about it! #thruhikesyndicate

Back in October 2014, I was writing a crap ton of letters to a bunch of potential thru-hike sponsors. After multiple “no’s” I finally received a couple of encouraging emails! One was from a representative of BioLite Stoves; the other was from the Marketing Director form Osprey Backpacks!

  1. BioLite agreed to send me a free BioLite Campstove in return for some online love! Welp, I freakin love my BioLite! I have used it on multiple occasions and will definitely be taking it with me on the Appalachian Trial. Call me crazy, but the fact that I don’t have to purchase fuel canisters every time I go into town outweighs the literal weight of the BioLite. The BioLite Campstove basically uses wood as fuel, and on the AT there is plenty of wood…soooo yeah there’s that! And
  1. In conversation with the Marketing Director at Osprey, the 2015 Thru-hike Syndicate came up! He said I should apply for it. I figured, “Yeah, why not?!?!” I must have said something that they liked, because I was chosen to represent five great hiking companies and be a Thru-hike Syndicate ambassador! At this point I’m freaking out! I’m about to get free gear from Vasque, Nemo, Osprey, Leki, and Darn Tough Vermont all because I…I really don’t know why they chose me? Is it because I’m blogging for Appalachian Trials? Is it because they liked my writing style? Is it because I’m bad ass and am hiking SOBO because it’s Robert Frost Style? (“the one less traveled”) I’m not 100% sure and really don’t care! This is a great opportunity and I am so unfathomably stoked about it!

If it weren’t for the Thru-hike Syndicate I would not be able to hike the AT. Thank you so much to all of the sponsors involved!


(Short and sweet)

I believe Patrick Henry said it best,

“Give me liberty, or give me death”

The fact that on the AT you aren’t tied down to ANYTHING is just so liberating. Whether you want to hike 20+ miles, or sleep in and hike 0-5 miles on any given day…it’s up to you! So do what you want! END OF STORY!


When asked who I hope to inspire by hiking the Appalachian Trail, the first people who came to mind were my little sister and brother. My sister, who aspires to be an Olympic Sprint Kayaker, and brother, who is just getting into Tae Kwon Do, both need to understand that it’s not about how bad you want something, but how hard you’re willing to work to achieve it! I hope that I can be an example of this with my thru-hike. If I can inspire even just one person to chase their dream, whatever it may be, then my Appalachian Trail thru-hike will be a success!

Now that I’m about 2 weeks from my start date, I’ll be blogging a lot more as well as posting videos on my YouTube channel! Also, my adventure can be followed on my Instagram and Twitter accounts @thejoshgoebel.

June 1 can’t get here soon enough!


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Comments 1

  • Anthony Magno : May 19th

    Very well written! I want to do a NOBO in 2016 when I will be turning 60. I would love to learn more about possible sponsors as I will be on a very limited amount of money.


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