Faces of the Appalachian Trail, 2014: Kasie Taylor

Trail Name: Moxie
Home State: Virginia
Occupation: Recent college graduate
Hike Timeline: February 17 – July 31, 2014

Before: Kasie Taylor

Before: Kasie Taylor

Why did you decide to hike?

I actually didn’t know what the Appalachian Trail was until January 2, 2014, after talking with a nurse at the hospital I had taken my mother to for an emergency visit. I didn’t think much of it then, but a few days later I was researching the trail and decided that I was going to thru-hike. It was the perfect timing and the perfect opportunity to take control of my life and step back from “reality.” The last semester of college took a toll on me physically and mentally. Additionally, I did not have the healthiest coping mechanisms. I figured the trail would be an opportunity to detox my body and my mind – time to get in shape and to figure out my next step in life.

What was the most challenging part of the journey?

Starting out with absolutely no backpacking experience and very little hiking experience, I knew it was going to be different and I knew it was going to be difficult. To add to that, I was totally out of shape; the first week of the trail, I was lucky to get 10 miles in. I think my feet endured the most pain on the trail. I started out with the wrong shoe and after 500 miles finally found a shoe that did not eat at my feet.

Besides the starting point, hiking with Lyme disease was the most difficult and challenging part of the journey. In addition to just feeling weak, my body reacted negativity from the antibiotics, and hiking while nauseated was extremely challenging.

What was the most memorable part of the journey?

There are so many ways to answer this question. I can remember some days as though I am right in that very moment. There are so many memorable days, places, and overall experiences, but what is the most memorable are the people that you meet along the way. We were taken in by random strangers. People shared stories with us, hitched us into town, provided us with inspiration and motivation, invited us into their homes and provided us a clean, warm, comfortable place to sleep, to shower, and prepared us a warm, fulfilling, home-cooked meal. One day in particular, we were walking through Virginia, it was pouring down rain, all day, and when we got to a road, there was a cooler of trail magic. Two coolers to be exact – one filled full of sweets and candies and one filled with fruits and cold drinks. After dreading the wet day, I was so happy to have finally reached that road crossing with that simple trail magic that just gave you an extra push.

, we were in the remnants of a hurricane. Mt. Washington had been closed to cars (we found this out once we were at the top). I was scared. I had heard too many times how dangerous the weather could be on Washington. I was wearing everything that I had in my pack to keep warm and I used every ounce of muscle to hold myself to the ground. I screamed and cried all the way to Washington. But the whole time, I had Ibex and LT behind me, pushing me through. These people, once complete strangers, pushed me through an extremely difficult time. They pushed me through, motivated me. True friends.

How did you feel after the hike was over?

I kept saying that I was not going to do anything the first week off the trail, but I didn’t think I was actually not going to do anything! I tried, I really did, but my legs and my body ached so badly. A few weeks later, I was out kayaking. On that kayaking trip, my friend and I decided to do a road trip, so I planned that. The three-week road trip was amazing. It was now six weeks off of the trail and I had been visiting national parks, resting and traveling across the country.

When I got back from the road trip, however, it all sunk in. It hit me fast and hard. Looking for my first full-time job has been stressful, especially when you know how much is out there in the world, and you are looking for a way to make it in the world, happy and wholly, but while being financially stable. I have many future outdoor plans and have made long-term career goals that will incorporate outdoor living.

After: Kasie Taylor

After: Kasie Taylor

What did you gain from the experience?

So much more than I ever expected. I came off of the trail with a sense of peace; a peace that is hard to explain to anyone who has not thru-hiked before. I came off the trail confident that I can do anything I put my mind to. I have faith in humanity. And I came off the trail with a sense of community. I know I am a part of something so much deeper than the 9-5 workday. Lastly, I came off the trail with knowledge of life in its simplest form – a form most do not have the privilege to experience, and one I’m embracing with my all and I hope that it never slips away.

What are your goals for the future?

Overall, I want to find a career that incorporates helping veterans and working with people while hopefully being able to explore all the beauty that this world has to offer. I also plan to hike the PCT and eventually run a hostel along the PCT.

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