I remember it distinctly, the moment I knew my 2019 Appalachian Trail thru-hike attempt was over. I spent a week on the couch at my cousin’s after an emergency room doctor told me my kidneys were starting to fail and I needed to get off the trail.
I’ve been blessed with good health, and I know it is something I often take for granted. And in that moment in 2019, I could not understand that my body was done. It was time to take a break.
My soul, mental state, and kidneys were all begging me to quit, so I did. And to this day, it is what I consider to be my biggest failure.
Now, this is not the point in my story where you come to me and say, “Hey! 700 miles is no small feat! You accomplished something big!”
People who say that are not thru-hikers. They haven’t wanted to walk thousands of miles through blood, sweat, and tears.
Thru-hikers are a different breed.
I am happy to say that my time on the AT did not cause me to hang up my trail runners for good. No, I have hiked hundreds of miles since then and soon I will be tackling the PCT.
I have changed immensely since my days on the AT, and I do not question that I will finish this trail. I think I will have a successful thru-hike because I want it more, I want it for the right reasons.
In 2019, I was a lost soul. I just completed a life-changing AmeriCorps program in New Hampshire where I met my best friend and hiking partner, backpacked for the first time, and even fell in love with a boy that was chasing a lifetime of adventure.
My AmeriCorps experience in 2018 was one of the best times of my life and I will cherish it always.
I went into the AT looking for the exact relationships and memories I had built in New Hampshire; and big surprise, they were not there.
Instead, I was faced with having to make new friends, surviving the green tunnel, and trying not to get trench foot from all of the rain.
I hated the AT. I missed my best friend and I could not get over the curly-haired boy who was currently backpacking all of Italy. I’ll go as far as to say that while I personally wanted to hike the trail, I knew that he dreamed of doing it too.
In a weird way, it made me feel closer to him when he was on the other side of the world.
So when he came back from Europe, met up with me on the trail, and finally told me we both needed to move on, I didn’t even know why I was walking anymore.
If you’ve read Zach’s Appalachian Trials, one of the things he mentions in the book is figuring out why you want to do something like a thru-hike. Because whatever that reason is, you will likely have to repeat it to yourself day after day when the going gets tough.
Since I didn’t have a clear reason for doing the trail, I got off the AT.
Then, in 2020 the pandemic began, and what a whirlwind life became.
In 2020, I hiked the Colorado Trail with Rach, the good old best friend and hiking partner of mine (hoes over bros, always.) That experience meant a lot to me. Rachel was in a state of healing and for the first time in our friendship, I felt like the stable one, that I could be there no for her when she was there for me so many times in the past.
On the CT, I found that yeah, backpacking is just as hard as I remember, but it’s freaking the best thing there is. We spend our days outside taking in dope views. We make lifelong friendships and memories with people we never would have encountered outside of the trail.
And we push ourselves. We literally climb up obstacles and come out on the other side, better for the experience.
The boy came back into my life shortly after the CT; and big surprise, he hurt me again. So when one of my besties I met on the CT told me she was doing the PCT, I called up Rach, and she said she was going if I was.
All of a sudden the healing nature of the trail started to reemerge and I knew this was it.
It was time for an iconic PCT babe trip thru-hike, and the boy that clouded my thoughts for so many years was being replaced by sisterhood and a dirt path.
Like I said, I think you have to have a reason to do the trail, to want it. And I think the answer should always be you. You can’t live your life stuck in the past. You can’t be someone else or make a person love you. You can’t go out there without dedication and conviction.
And you can’t walk thousands of miles, expecting to stay the same.
I know there is more to me than the person I am today and I know I am worthy of love.
So that’s why I am walking from Mexico to Canada, to become more me.
I can’t wait to crush this trail with my friends. And I know one day I’ll do the same on the Appalachian Trail, too.
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