The Adventure Begins

It’s 6:00 PM on January 6, 2018 as I write this, which means only about 36 hours remain until I fly to Florida to begin my adventure. This year, I plan to thru-hike the Eastern Continental Trail (ECT), a series of hiking trails and road walks that lead from Key West, Florida to Cap Gaspé, Quebec. While hiking the ECT, I will also complete thru-hikes of the Florida Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and a few other long-distance trails.

Why am I doing this?

I didn’t make the final decision to hike this year until about a month ago. It was a difficult choice. I’m leaving behind a job I like, and for the next nine months, I won’t see many of my favorite people. Whenever I tell anyone about my upcoming adventure, they ask me, “Why?” Doesn’t it get boring? Isn’t it dangerous? Why would I want to walk so far?

I hike for the adventure.

Every day life can lack excitement at times. When I’m not hiking, a typical day for me includes sitting at a desk for at least eight hours.

Of course, excitement isn’t always a good thing. I’ve tripped and landed face-first while trekking up a mountain, I’ve sprinted through thunder storms, and I’ve made my way down a mountain in the middle of the night.

But the bad moments make the good ones even more special. There’s nothing like pushing myself to the limit to reach the top of a steep climb and finding an incredible view at the top.

I hike for the people.

On past hikes, I’ve experienced a ton of trail magic. For my friends at home who may not know thru-hiking lingo, trail magic is an act of kindness on the trail, and a trail angel is a person who makes trail magic happen. Sometimes trail angels give out delicious food at a road crossing or leave a bin of snacks on the trail for hungry hikers. Other times, trail magic is unplanned. When I hitchhiked near the Appalachian Trail in Maine, the man who picked me up took me to the grocery store and bought me groceries.

On my upcoming hike, I plan to pay it forward as much as possible. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help other hikers out with my own trail magic.

I hike for the sense of accomplishment.

While hiking, every day carries its own challenges: making it to a campsite before sunset, getting to the next water source, climbing a difficult mountain. Achieving these small goals is satisfying, even on the days I’m not rewarded with a view.

But succeeding at these daily goals is nothing like the feeling of reaching hiking milestones. I walked through Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont on the Appalachian Trail in 2016, and I’ll never forget the rush of emotions I felt when I crossed the state line between Maine and New Hampshire. I expect it will be much more emotionally rewarding to complete a thru-hike.

Walking almost 5,000 miles this year won’t be easy. But if it wasn’t a challenge, what would be the point?

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Comments 9

  • Nanook : Jan 8th

    Hi Emily,
    Hope to meet you sometime later this year on the AT as I’ll be starting my SOBO hike in July.
    A friend on mine who lives in Fla and does trail maintenance on The Florida Trail,told me the trail still has alot of water on it in places from last years hurricanes so be careful, it can be deep.
    Have a great trip, look forward to reading your updates.

  • Ruth Anne : Jan 8th

    Looking forward to following your adventures! Wow! This is a big one! Best wishes for a wonderful time.

  • David Odell : Jan 8th

    Good luck on your hike. David Odell AT71 PCT72 CDT77

  • Warrior AT2019 : Jan 8th

    Happy Adventures! Can’t wait to read more from your time on the trail.

  • Mike Gormley : Jan 8th

    Register your hike here:

    I am a trail angel. When you get to the 150 mm thru 189 mm NOBO on the FT you are in my territory, if I can be of help. Also I lived in the Keys for 7 years, ask away if you have questions.

  • Jojo Smiley : Jan 13th

    Hi Fineline. I wish you good health and strong feet and back for your trek. I did the same hike from Nov01-Oct02 although I extended my hike to include Newfoundland and Belle Isle. Remember to enjoy the journey, even on the roughest days. ???

  • StephOtz : Jan 21st

    Wow, that’s amazing!
    Looking forward to your next post!
    Greetings from Costa Rica!

  • Cheetah : Feb 6th

    Emily!!! Fine Line!!! I’m so excited for you! Keep it up. I can’t wait to follow your journey. Your optimism and energy will take you so many places.

  • MJ : Aug 11th

    I’ve just come across your ECT blog, Emily. How’s the trail going? This is a crazy dream I have of doing one day, but first I need to get into shape, save money and make sure family can take over the care of my elderly mom. Do you have any updates or pointers on doing the ECT? I’m a 55 year old grandma who has always dreamed about long thru hikes my entire life, but have only managed a few day hikes. I certainly hope all is well on your hike and would love to hear about the remainder.


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