Faces of the Appalachian Trail, 2014: Sarah Beatrice

Trail Name: Too Long
Home State: Pennsylvania
Occupation: Landscaper and owner of Wingmaker, a wing sauce company
Hike Timeline: March 31 – September 19, 2014

Why did you decide to hike?

I was sick of a desk job and the same routine day after day. I wanted to challenge myself and have the adventure of a lifetime. I was sick of politics and I wanted to escape reality and live in the woods for a while. I had two people who really inspired me to do it. My friend, Cindy knew I always hiked on the North Country Trail and she said to me one day, “Why don’t you hike the Appalachian?” And that’s when the idea was first born. I did some research and I said to myself, “People don’t really do the whole thing, do they?”

A few years later, after deciding that I could never do that, I met a guy named Will (aka Bad Dinner). He has hiked the trail a couple times and was heading out again the following spring. He invited me to go with him and my best friend Anna, who he was seeing. I was more than happy to say yes! I started buying gear and researching until I drove myself crazy – I was so ready. Unfortunately, they broke up and my dream of hiking the trail was shattered. I said, “Screw it, it’s not meant to be then.” A couple months later I got my head out of my ass and made the decision to go ahead and go anyway.

What was the most challenging part of the journey?

The most challenging part of the journey was the mental part and keeping your head in the game – knowing that you don’t have to do this; this is your choice. Many times I asked myself why. I wanted to quit many times and the hardest thing to do was to keep going.

What was the most memorable part of the journey?

The most memorable without a doubt was September 19, the day I summited Katahdin. I can remember everything, from waking up to a crackling fire to touching those ice cold rocks and pulling myself up the egg-shaped boulders with wind whipping across my knuckles. I held onto that sign up top and bawled my eyes out, then I sat up there for a couple hours and just looked at the sign and hung out with everyone who I’d never see again. It was such a bittersweet moment. I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like that again.

How did you feel after the hike was over?

When it was over I was on top of the world. I was super human. I could do anything and everything. I felt so calm and at peace with myself for the first time in many years. Long term, I feel lost. I went to the woods to find myself but I returned to society even more confused. It’s weird being back in society. I love seeing all my family and friends but I hate being home. I feel almost trapped and I want to keep moving.

What did you gain from the experience?

I gained a ton of confidence and an appreciation for everyone in my life. I learned not to be afraid to ask, and the worst answer you’re going to get is, “No.” Nothing is impossible. Life will pass you right on by if you sit and wait. If you want something, go and get it.

What are your goals for the future?

I’d like to thru-hike the Colorado Trail and bike across the country; explore Europe and finish my state collection – I only have eight more to see in the continental U.S. Other future goals are to be a trail angel and help out as many hikers as I can, and find a lucrative job while spending time outside.

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