“Will You Walk the Whole Way?” and Other Questions

In just under three months I will be taking off on an adventure of my lifetime: I’m going to try to walk from Georgia to Maine.  Almost everyone I’ve told of my plan has asked the same question: Why?  The short answer is simple: because I may, because I can, and because I want to.  The long answer is a lot more complicated than that, and will surely be the subject of a later post.

In the meantime, here are some of the other questions I’ve been fielding since I announced my plan to hike.

The Basics of Hiking

“Will you walk the whole way?”   That’s the dream!

“Where will you sleep?  On the ground?”  I’ll sleep in my tent (on the ground), in the famous AT shelters, in hostels and hotels, and maybe in miscellaneous other sleeping spots along the way.  As a bug-adverse type, I predict I’ll prefer to sleep zipped up in my tent versus open-air options like shelters, all things equal.

“It could take six months?  How will you carry that much food and water?”   I hope it will take just less than six months, because I’ll get in trouble with work if I’m not back in that time.   I will carry two to five days’ of food at a time, depending on how far away the next resupply town is, and how fast I feel like walking.  I carry a water filter and make drinking water along the way.  Generally, I plan to carry around two liters at a time.

“Are you going alone?”   Yep, I’m hiking solo.

“Are you going to be lonely?”   I understand the crowd is lively and social.  I’m sure I will be lonely from time to time, but I also expect to meet great people, have great conversations, and make lifelong friends.

Gear Questions

“How much clothing will you carry?”   At least to start I’ll carry a pair of leggings and long sleeves for sleeping, a pair for hiking, a set of rain tops and bottoms, a puffy jacket, a pair of gloves, a warm hat, buff, two pairs of socks, two pairs of underwear, and a sports bra.   I’ll hike in boots and probably carry a lightweight pair of shoes for around camp.  My biggest priorities for the early months are staying warm, staying dry, and keeping my pack as light as practicable.

“Isn’t it hot in Georgia?”   You’d think so, but in March in the mountains, it’s quite chilly.  I expect to be dipping into freezing temps for at least the first month or so of my hike.

Trail Hygiene

“Will you shower in streams and wash your hair in waterfalls?”  I mean, I’m not against it.  But generally, I just won’t bathe while I’m hiking.  I’ll bathe when I can in resupply towns, hostels, or wherever else I get the chance.

“Where will you poop?”   Well, in toilets when possible, but where that’s not an option… in a little cat hole that I dig in the ground.  It’s fine, relax.

“Will you shave your head?”  What? No.


Personal Safety/Self-Defense/What If You Die?

“Will you carry a gun?”  What? No.

“Will you carry a knife?”   Yes, I have a little pocket knife, but it’s going to mostly cut snacks, I think, and isn’t intended for self-defense.

“Are you afraid of being murdered?”   Only when I listen to scary podcasts or read scary books at night time.

“Are you afraid of getting lost?”   Ehh…. a little.  But I carry a phone with multiple maps and GPS locator systems, the trail is well marked, and I am committed to using common sense and not doing anything unnecessarily stupid.

“Are you afraid of being eaten by a bear?”   Yes.


My Favorite Questions

“When did you decide to do this?”   I’ve wanted to since high school, but after a four-day guided trek this summer (pictured above) I started thinking about doing it for real.  When work agreed not to fire me for playing hooky for six months, it was settled.

“Are you ready to go?”   I am soooo ready to go, and also I have so much to do still: reading more books about the hike, dialing in my final gear list (including my favorite part: shopping), getting my little body into shape.

“How are you prepping?”   I am reading one million blogs, with a heavy emphasis on gear reviews.  I am walking the 3.5 miles to and from my office as often as I can, and mixing in other cardio and yoga workouts.  I am making tea and coffee using my cook system instead of my real stove/coffeemaker.  I am sleeping on my apartment floor on an infinite combination of sleeping pads and sleeping bags in an attempt to find the least miserable combo.

“Can I join you to hike for XYZ portion?”  Absolutely! I want all the company! Please come hike with me!


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Comments 5

  • Harrison Gill : Dec 12th

    Great post. I hiked NOBO this year with success. You are ready! Make it happen. You will have more fun than the law allows.

    • Emily S. : Dec 12th

      Thanks and congratulations!! Keep sending the ~good vibes~ my way!

  • Tina Dunaway : Dec 12th

    I start my NOBO thru hike March 1st!!! Hope to see you out there!!!!

    • Emily S. : Dec 12th

      I think I’ll start about one week behind you–maybe I’ll catch up!

  • Bhavana Rana : Mar 8th

    Love this post! Good luck and I’m sure you’ll be able to complete it within 5 months and 30 days! 😉


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