for those WTF moments

Hello! I’m jumping into blogging about a month after jumping into the decision to hike the AT in 2017. Actually, ‘jumping into the decision to hike the AT’ is a bit hyperbolic, as this trail has been on my mind for years, but the decision to actually to do it this coming spring was a bit spontaneous. I was recently telling a friend I wanted to make a change. She asked what I wanted to do, and the first thing that came to my mind  — the first thing that always comes to my mind — was ‘hike.’ I’ve had this exchange with countless others  over the last year.

“If you could do anything, what would it be?” “What would give you joy?” “What would you rather be doing?”

I’m not sure why it took so long to hit me, but I’m chalking that up to fate/the universe/whatever-higher-power-you-do-or-don’t-believe-in sparking that lightbulb moment in me with just enough time to get ready for the NOBO AT season.

And now here we are! It’s gonna be amazing and awesome and I’m so excited.

…but also, wtf?!?! Occasionally….once or twice….sometimes….maybe….I’ve been succumbing to wtf thinking. As in, wtf am I about to do?!?

I have a great job where I work with amazing colleagues I’m lucky enough to also call friends. I have wonderful family and pets and people who love me and whom I love and too many best friends to count. I am settled into a lifestyle and routine that is comfortable and easy and for which I am incredibly grateful. And yet….

I am seeking a meaning in life that I don’t feel at the moment. I want to do something hard and adventurous and crazy and fulfilling and meaningful. I want to live in a way that I’m not. I want to worry about things that matter, like food, water and shelter; and not about the little things that fill my day with stress, but that I’m keenly aware are so trivial.  I want to watch the sun rise and set, learn how to sleep outside without being afraid of the dark, and test the limits of my body and my mind. I want to be excited by a beautiful view and meet weird and fun people and be weird and fun and dirty and cold and happy. I don’t want to be comfortable. (Oh I know how quickly I will regret writing ‘I don’t want to be comfortable.’)

being weird in the woods.

I haven’t written my Why I’m Hiking lists yet. I’ve noticed that the whirlwind of making this monumental decision, shopping for gear, and announcing my intention to everyone in my life has been quite a high. I decided to wait until I come back down to earth and feel more grounded in the reality of this adventure to sit down with myself and write them. But I’ve bookmarked some of the other bloggers’ lists, like here and here, to read after I’ve drafted my own (which I will be sure to share, along with my Type-A gear spreadsheet, others’ reactions to this adventure, and the music that’s been motivating me).

More to come, and happy hiking….


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Comments 13

  • Adam : Dec 6th

    Awesome, and good for you!! Get it!!

    I am battling the same things in my head right now, the same things you just wrote about. One day I am all but ready to pack up and head for the trail that second (even if it is December), and the next I’m not so sure. Yet then Again it seems I’m not sure about a lot lately, but hiking I am always sure about. I’ve been buying gear for my future backpacking endeavors with parameters for said gear being that it would be ideal for a thru-hike. This I know is an attempt to push myself to announce a thru-hike attempt (still hasn’t happened). My friends are probably…no…”I know” that they are tired of my constant rambling about “the trail”. Like comparing future dates to where I would be on the trail at that time.

    It’s such a whirlwind of thoughts and decisions that is so hard to grasp. Which made reading you blog very enjoyable and relatable. I hope one day I can achieve a WTF mindset, as in WTF, why not, just do it! Until then I’ll just keep hoping and looking for that thing or moment that will push me over the edge, make me take that leap. Sorry for the rambling, but I guess I just want to say thanks because after reading your entry it made the edge seem a little more reasonable, and closer!

    I wish you the best on your future hike!!

    • Shani : Dec 7th

      Adam, thanks so much! I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one with a jumble of thoughts and feelings. I’m crossing my fingers you decide to take the leap!

  • Kristian E Dunn : Dec 6th

    The good news: make it to day 11 and your body will be cleared of toxins and your muscles strong.
    The better news: make it to 21 and you won’t believe how much your body adapted to being a billy goat and what a bad-ass you are.
    The bad news: You may end up getting claustrophobia, by day 25, in the woods (especially summertime) and experience what we call being in the Green Tunnel. This condition doesn’t apply to everyone, so it’s not a definite.
    The good news (again) walk for someone new for a week and you made a friend for life.
    The “is what it is” portion: Georgia is super tough but believe it or not the trail gets easier (more switchbacks/ less straight up-n-downs plus your body will be in shape) by the time you get to North Carolina.
    Remember it’s a hike, not a death march.

    • Shani : Dec 7th

      Thanks for these helpful tips, Kristian!

  • Heather Provoncha : Dec 6th

    Shani, congratulations on your decision! I completely resonate with your WTF moments…a good job and stability are hard to give up. I just keep thinking of all that I will gain on my hike, and it seems like I will be on the winning end of this hiking deal. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post! See you out there!

    • Shani : Dec 7th

      Heather – congratulations to you, too! Your Shimmy-Shimmy Shakedown hike post is the greatest – I laughed, I cried. Keep ’em coming, and can’t wait to see you on the trail.

  • GC : Dec 6th

    So glad it sounds like you’re going into this eyes wide open. Good luck and happy travels!

    • Shani : Dec 7th


  • Maggie : Dec 8th

    Couldn’t have said it better myself…

    Been thinking WTF since I decided in October to go THIS March, w no real experience (other than hobby-hiking and camping), and a real “plan.” Just ready for change! And when asked “If you could do anything….” hiking and being with nature are all that spills out of my heart.

    Thanks for sharing your story and hope to see you out there! WE GOT THIS!

    • Shani : Dec 12th

      How awesome – so happy for you!! I’m pretty much in the same boat re: experience, but I know it’ll be great!
      See you on the trail.

  • Leah : Dec 9th

    Yay! I have similar feelings. But also just going for it! When are you starting in March?

    • Shani : Dec 12th

      Leah – I’m kind of waiting out the winter to really commit, but I registered for March 7. You?

  • Trail Asher : Jan 31st

    That was great! I havent decided when i am going to through hike yet, but like you i am comfortable where i am. I work with great people that i consider friends and get paid well! I would love to hear how the conversation went with your boss. Any chance you will post that?

    Best of luck this year!


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