Why, Oh Why, Would Someone Hike the Appalachian Trail Again
Spoiler alert: I didn’t make it to Katahdin the first time.
I remember taking my first steps on Springer, one clumsy foot in front of the other. I had no idea how significantly this trail would change my perspective on life, break me out of my shy turtle shell, and help me become a new better version of myself – I mean, I did literally change my name after the hike. In the seven long years since, I’ve been busy daydreaming about my return to the Appalachian Trail for a do-over.
I’m ready to prove to myself I can do this. I know I was made for this. I’m a thru hiker.
Truth be told, this past year has been rough going, and I’ve been in a kind of funk for about six months. And its made me rethink some significant aspects of my life cycle. Now I’m at the point where I know I need a hard reset; need a reboot; need a new lease on life. I’m longing for the classic cure of nature and healing of the trail, to hit reset in Appalachia. Am I still full of pure naivety? Oh probably.
My First Attempt:
It was nearly on a whim I ended up on the trail last time. I had a friend who was already going and I asked to tag along. I had never been backpacking, had never really heard of the Appalachian Trail, and my head was full of idyllic thoughts of spending lots of time outside. Over the course of a few months, I scrambled to get the gear I might need, prepped some resupply boxes, and booked a flight.
Reluctantly, I had to leave the trail for a laughable medical issue near the 1400-mile mark. I did not want to leave. I had been out there four months for goodness sake! And every spring since, I’ve regretted not making the leap to go back. I knew in my heart I had to go back for a second attempt. Or a third attempt, or however many it might take.
It’s a feeling. Anyone else who has gone for a second attempt knows this feeling. We can’t shake it, we can’t get rid of it, it’s always there in the back of our minds. I’m choosing a life of no regrets, I have to get back to Springer ASAP.
Thru Hike 2.0: Stronger Than Ever.
This time around, I actually know what I’m getting myself into! I’ve learned about lightweight gear, resupplying efficiently, staying clean-ish, and just how strong I can become. I’ll be solo this time, relying entirely on myself to make this dream happen. And I’m ready for the challenge.
I’ll be repeating the first 1400 miles, and people keep asking me why, why, why! “Why not start where you left off?” “Why would you want to repeat more than half the trail?” In this community we can agree, this is a trip focused on the journey, not the destination. We don’t want to just get to Katahdin, we want to thru hike the Appalachian Trail.
“Why not try thru hiking the PCT this time around?” Because I flunked out of the AT Class of 2016! Gotta go back, repeat the grade, and finally graduate. I’ll get to the PCT, CDT, and HST eventually. But this year, I’m sticking to my roots.
Will this second chance at becoming a thru hiker cure my hiking cravings? Remedy my mind? Give me a new outlook on life?
We have to get uncomfortable in order to grow.
It’s hard leaving creature comforts behind: friends, home-cooked meals, comfy sweatshirts, and indoor plumbing.
But this time around, I know I can take the rain.
This time around, I know I can take the pain.
This time around, I know I am finally going to make it to Maine.
Bonus reason to thru hike:
Is anyone else as excited as me to eat like we’re 10 years old? Unlimited BBQ chips, peanut butter, and Oreos await me on the trail! Here’s to 2023, LET’S GET IT.
Are any other fellow flunkers heading back to the Appalachian Trail this season? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! To see my full gear list, click here. And for more raw photos and highlights along the way, follow me on Insta @nala_terra. Happy hiking!
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