You’re Hiking What?!
Since joining the Appalachian Trail community, I’ve received lots of support and useful tips and tricks to make it through.
My family isn’t as eager.
- Sister: You’re crazy but I think you should do it.
- Mother: I don’t like it but as long as you’ve got it smartly planned out.
- Dad: It serves no purpose. You’re not going unless you take a gun and a buddy.
- Isn’t that dangerous?
- You could be killed and no one would know!
- How would you get food or live?
- That’s my dream!
As you can tell, those are pretty mixed responses. The one I get most often is in regards to my safety and the need for a gun or a hiking buddy. Well, you let me know when someone suddenly wants to hike 2,100+ miles across 14 states southbound with me next summer and then we’ll talk. That’s the response I’m tempted to give when a hiking partner is brought up by someone who doesn’t want to hike with me.
The hike is 9 months away and I’m excited. I’m still gathering gear and planning treks to test functionality. There’s just something about being outside for days on end and getting to be a part of nature versus at work behind a desk.
Call me crazy, but I want to know what it feels like to climb rocks, ford streams, see lightning streak across the sky as adrenaline pumps through my veins in the downpour of rain. I relish the coulds and what ifs of this venture. One of the main reasons I’m all for it is probably because it’s not mandatory and I’m not being voluntold to do it, haha.
Yet, despite my eagerness, the questions posed to me are real. Not just for me, but for all of us attempting such a quest. It’s what I would ask if it were someone I cared about going off into the wilderness for half a year with little to no knowledge of the expedition.
I could go on and on about how animals are designed for this kind of thing and how humans are no exception. The reality of it is, not many people do live day to day anymore. The general human population has increased life expectancies that gives allowances to design a future and not just dream of it. Some people get so caught up in this planning or have been that when time allows for a break, not many know what to do with it. Relaxation equates to boredom if it was not scheduled in somehow.
That’s not the way I desire to live my whole life but it is how I live right now and I’m working on changing that.
So, to alleviate some of these burning questions or statements, let’s begin.
You’re crazy but I think you should do it.
Yes, yes I am. ^_^ This particular sister understands that there are very few opportunities we can take in this life to get our heads on straight without falling into utter chaos family wise or financially. As a sister and future marriage and family counselor, she doesn’t want me to miss working through this catastrophy upstairs. She doesn’t get it but she’s interested to see where it goes. Still thinks I’m absolutely crazy for wanting to do it though. 🙂
I don’t like it but as long as you’ve got it smartly planned out.
Thank you 🙂 My Mom has asked me every question financially under the sun about this thru-hike. She wants to make sure I’ve got my ducks in a row before and after this six or seven month hiatus. With that said, I’ve been a very smart shopper. I do not buy anything at full price. EBay, thrift stores, Goodwill, and other places have become my go to places regarding clothes or random pieces that I can fit together. There are a few sponsor type deals out there too. I was a part of a facebook group for hiking when a company representative asked if any of us would try out a set of hiking poles for a discounted price and review them. That, in addition to the sale going on Amazon, an easy $80-90 trecking pole set, cost me $3. Yep, three dollars. You can find product prices on my gear list. Browse around different stores and be aware of your needs.
It serves no purpose. You’re not going unless you take a gun and a buddy.
My Dad is a great man and if he says something, he means it. I respect whatever he tells me and give it its due diligance. When we discussed this trip, I basically shrugged it off. I was going. Period. However, it didn’t mean his words didn’t have weight and I did reflect over them. Still am, actually, and that’s how this post came about. For those of you who are planning your trip, this hike stands for something to you. I encourage you to find out what it is and relay it patiently to your loved ones if you can.
For me, this thru-hike isn’t just to clear my head and meditate. It’s to embrace my anxiety and fear and the constant panic I live in. It’s to say I can do something unprecedented with my life and it doesn’t have to make sense or have rules aside from common sense, morals, and values. To trust my God given instincts and to roll with the punches. If I can make it through a thru hike, I think I’ll be more of a problem solver for one, haha, but I can trust myself too.
Growing up in an abusive home ripped any sense of safety and trust out of me. Spoken words mean next to nothing. Even if a person is coming off as genuine…it’s difficult. I don’t trust myself to be able to handle things well. Through different real life scenarios, I’m beginning to open that door but it takes time.
Now, the gun. I’m not bringing one. I’ve thought about this and though I can use one really well, I have other self defense items I will be storing on my person including martial arts I’ve learned. I encourage you to have some familiarity with self defense anywhere you go in life even if you think you’ll never use it. If someone is looking for a target, everyone who meets their criteria will have an imagined bulls eye on them.
Isn’t that dangerous?
Yes, and so is walking or driving to the store.
In all honesty, there are loads of animals out there. The most mentioned ones that people are worried about on the trail are bears, snakes, and ticks.
With that said, it is recommended that hikers either use a bear bag or a bear canister on the trail. Do not eat in your shelter. Walk a bit away to prep and eat your food. Bears have an astute sense of smell. The last thing you or the bear wants is to be sniffing some amazing scent and come upon a living being that it now has to defend itself against. Last I checked, bears are infinitely stronger than the average human. *Women, I will make a post later but make a point to look up menstrual cycles on the trail. One of the books I read noted a woman being attacked by a bear while on her cycle. Exactly.*
Snakes are not the friendliest of creatures when disturbed and research is ongoing. If I see a snake, I do not touch said creature but will promptly walk around in the widest circle feasible.
Ticks. Nope. No and no. These tiny disease carrying buggers get EVERYWHERE. So far, my plan is to wear a skin tight layer to keep them from going places they got no business being. Another is to wear bootbands or some kind of elastic around the hem of my trousers if I wear them. Also, I’ve been debating going barefoot for large portions of the hike so we’ll see how well that turns out when it’s time.
You could be killed and no one would know!
How much T.V. have you been watching? People die every day and no one knows where they are or what happened to them. It’s horrible and yet it doesn’t make it any less true. At least I’m acknowledging the risk behind it and understanding it is a day by day process. If I don’t prepare accordingly, I, and anyone else, could die out there. That’s why it’s so important to receive support from loved ones even in form of questions because it helps those like me better plan.
I wish it were easier to explain this to people but it doesn’t alleviate the worry they feel. Or frustration those of us have while explaining it for the umpteenth time. If you don’t get a little lopsided from it, you have more patience than I no matter what end you’re on.
How would you get food or live?
Along the Appalachian Trail are shelters every eight miles or so. These are places hikers can stay the night or day depending when they prefer to travel. There are hostels for small fees or work for stays that are especially helpful during a storm. You can choose to mail food to yourself but I personally plan to resupply in nearby towns to get the nutrients I need. With that said, if someone sends me one, I will happily accept it ^_^ haha.
Now, aside from shelters, I personally am going to be hammock camping. I’ve already purchased a hammock and am eager to test it out. If you continue on this journey with me, I will be writing about what it’s like using one on the trail and if it’s actually worth it in the end. I believe it is.
That’s my dream!
That makes one of us! Haha. Nah, seriously, that’s awesome and I think you should go for it. It wasn’t mine growing up or even in consideration two years ago but I strongly believe you are more than capable of pursuing your dream. If you need support or more guidance on it I will say that I’ve yet to meet a disgruntled thru-hiker or someone who didn’t want to help in the hiking community.
Thanks for reading!
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Being a photojournalist, are you taking your camera along? My wife (photographer) and I will be hiking NOBO next year and plan to document it along the way. We are still trying to figure out the best camera system for the trip and would be interested in what you are planning?
Taking a camera along is something I’m really debating on simply for the fact that they’re very expensive. With that said, my primary camera for the last 4 1/2 years has been a Canon 7D and that’s what I would be the most comfortable with out there. If I decide to take one, I would easily carry two lenses, one for wide angle and another for macro. To protect my gear, a panel loader pack or similar would be close to ideal. What were y’all thinking on doing?
We are thinking of making the switch to mirrorless, probably with a 28mm and 75mm. Would love to go wider but they get very expensive. Currently we shoot with Canon but the camera and glass is heavy. We have done a long hike with the DSLR and Peak Design clip worked out perfectly. Check it out if you are taking your camera. https://www.peakdesign.com/product/clips/capturepro
Check out the site http://www.tickencounter.org
Barefoot will cause problems….!
I’m so glad you posted this! Very useful material in there regarding treating shoes and clothes as well as what type of ticks are out when. I’ll definitely keep that in mind.
Check out the site http://www.maker-workshop.com
there many typo t-shirt good for hiking
You can do this! I am so excited for you. I am especially excited because you will be going southbound. I will definitely be following you! I live in Georgia, and the trail runs through the county that I live in. If you need any help from Smoky Mountains to the end of the trail in Georgia…you officially have a contact! 🙂 Also, I’d love to send you a goody box sometime along the trail. Maybe we can coordinate that!? Good luck…and it’ll be here before you know it!