“You’ve Got Some Explaining To Do”

From the second I began announcing to people that I was attempting a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, I have been flooded with support. From talking to other hikers, I have found out that I am very lucky in the fact that I received very little in the way of negative reactions upon telling people my post graduation plans.

I can not even count the amount of family members, friends, and random people I have meet through this whole process who regularly keep up with my hike through phone calls, emails, or reading my blog posts. So, if you are one of the people who have provided support or encouragement in any way to my hike: I am sorry for falling off the face of the earth with my blogging.

The last few months have been a confusing and unpredictable time. In short, I was stuck in limbo. I had absolutely no idea what the outcome of my hike was going to be, and had no idea what to tell everyone. So allow me to fill you all in:

I was misdiagnosed with Lyme Disease. After my 3.5 week treatment of extremely nauseating antibiotics, I didn’t feel any better. I got back on the trail (and then back off after only a few days) two more times before I decided I needed to get off indefinitely.

I spent the next two months being dizzy 24/7. I almost forgot what it felt like to not have vertigo and to not get motion sick from doing something as simple as walking to the bathroom.

I couldn’t leave my house without feeling sick let alone hike 20 miles everyday. I would get on the trail and the whole forest would be spinning so badly that getting to the top of mountains or rock scrambles was scary because I thought I would loose my balance and fall. I went from almost 20 miles every day to single digits, and I had absolutely no energy.

It was obvious that something was wrong, so I spent a few week visiting numerous doctors and getting tons of test done until I finally found out what was wrong with me. Basically I had some funky stuff going on in my inner ear that was causing nonstop vertigo BUT I am excited to say that


Clearly there have now been a few hiccups in my original plan, but that’s okay. This definitely isn’t what I had in mind for my hike, but I am learning to roll with the punches and just keep going. Pre-trail Colleen would have been a mess at the thought of my hike getting this derailed, but if the AT has taught me anything it’s that whether it’s rainy days, dried up water sources, or an illness that just doesn’t seem to go away, you have to take whatever life (or the trail) throws at you and find the positive in it.

This means that my original plan of a thru hike will turn into what some people refer to as a LASH (long ass section hike).  I got off the trail at the PA/ NJ border and hopefully I will be able to finish the entire state of Jersey in a bunch of shorter hikes before the winter is over, and then finish the rest of the trail in the very near future. I played with the idea of finishing another 700 miles before the year was over, but with how quickly it is getting cold in the mountains, and the small amount of hikers out this late in the season, I decided that it may not be the greatest idea.

I want to be clear that I am not giving up, and that I will finish this trail. It may not be this year, or all at once, like originally planned, but I am determined to complete all 2,189.2 miles of the AT – and no weird inner ear issues are going to stop me from doing that.

They say that only 20% of people who set out to complete a thru hike actually finish, but becoming part of the majority of people who fail definitely doesn’t make it any easier. If one thing was for sure, it’s that I never thought that I would become part of the number of failed thru hikers. I have been watching all of the people I hiked with summit Katahdin this past week via social media, and although it was pretty hard to see all these people finish their dream while I was stuck at home, it also inspired me even more to not give up.

I was able to hike 600 miles of the trail this year, and I am going to take that for the accomplishment that it is.

Thank you for sticking with me through this adventure (even when I neglect to post). After 2 months of literally being dizzy nonstop, I finally feel better and am SO ready to work towards kicking this trail in the butt again. Stay tuned!

Happy hiking!

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Comments 3

  • Bob : Sep 27th

    I’m a section hiker. My motto is SHST (section here, section there). Great to hear that your feeling better and only have 1500 or so miles to go. 🙂 Stay well.

  • Kate Vancouver : Sep 27th

    This is really neat! I have not been following you, but I support you and am inspired by your spirit. I plan on hiking in 2017 as a Nobo after I graduate and am stoked to get out there.

  • Chris : Sep 27th

    Finishing 600 miles IS an accomplishment–a great one! It will be even better when you become a 2000-miler, finish the trail, and start looking for the next challenge. Good hiking!


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