Hi! My trail name is Tree Hugger, and I’m thru-hiking the AT after a 32 year wait. I first learned about the AT during Spring Break of my Sophomore year in college. My college sweetheart and I spent a week in the Smokies, and we ran across some hitchhiking thru-hikers. That’s when I learned about the trail and determined to someday complete it. Well, life intervened, and my path veered away from the trail for some time. I married and raised three amazing kids, but never stopped dreaming about completing the AT. I started backpacking again once the kids were grown, and got into the best shape of my life with the help of a personal trainer and a lot of hard work. Then, in November of 2018, I took a bad fall while night hiking up to a remote spot in the Hoosier National Forest. I suffered multiple physical injuries, including a pretty nasty TBI that required almost three full years to recover from. But with the great support of my friends and family, a team of medical professionals (particularly one extraordinary functional neurologist), I regained enough cognitive ability and balance to backpack again. I entreated my superintendent (I’m a high school teacher) to grant me a Leave of Absence to hike the AT while I’m still able (who knows what the future holds?), and my request was granted. I spend all year teaching my students to “seize the day,” to reach for their biggest goals, and to live out their dreams. It was time to practice what I preach, and so here I am on the AT. It really is a dream come true for me. It’s been difficult and challenging and uncomfortable, and really, what more could anyone ask for?
How am I doing? I’ll tell you, life is hard on the other side. Unfortunately, it’s not 40-mile-an-hour-wind, pelting rain,
It’s been a minute, kids. After about 650 miles, Tree Hugger has been sidelined for 9 days. The heavy pack I carried early on exacerbated an
I had the most wonderful Independence Day. Struggling to celebrate a day honoring freedom after the most recent SCOTUS decisions was tough for
I slackpacked today. I’ve been benched for a week with a low back/SI injury. Today was my first attempt to cover any miles in a week.
Fifty or so years ago, to bring water to the kitchen building and the men's and women's shower houses, water pipes were run underground at the
Enjoy my mental meanderings: To the tune of “North to Alaska” Way up north (North to Damascus)Way up north (North to Damascus)Way up north
Take those boots off, baby. Because I came into this adventure sans YouTube, it has been a truly organic experience for me. The lion’s
Oh, my. Every time I think I’ve hit the prettiest stretch of trail, I turn a corner and discover something even more beautiful, stunning, and/or
“No one is more grateful than a hungry hiker,” said the nice man feeding us this morning when asked why he was sharing this particular “Trail Magic”
The award for Most Sportsmanlike Behavior in the Thru-Hiking category goes to the two gentlemen who kept their eyes forward while I was using the