Trail Correspondents: S4 Episode #5 | Expectations Vs. Reality
Welcome back to Trail Correspondents! This is episode 5: expectations vs. reality.
Picture in your mind’s eye, an ideal version of time spent in nature. It’s likely not raining and warm but not hot. Perhaps the perfect cooling breeze supportively buffets your face while you climb a challenging but not impossible ascent.
You may find yourself surrounded by lush, green foliage, peeking out from which you spot rare and beautiful wildlife, that is so unafraid of your presence as to be practically posing for you as you snap a magnificent photo…
If only everyday could be like this…
Though trail life is a certain kind of escape it is definitely not a wholesale entrance into a fantasy reality free from the doldrums and discomforts of everyday life. And while it’s easy to romanticize thoughts of living in the woods for an extended period of time, as the days become weeks become months, one is quickly disabused of these flights of fancy.
In this episode our correspondents place their preconceived notions about life on trail up against their lived experiences. The sharp contrast here provides a certain type of clarity painting a clear picture of what a very long walk in the woods actually involves.
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In today’s episode we hear from:
Harking from the South Coast of the UK, Abbey, aged 26, is swapping the rolling hills of the South Downs for the mountains of the Pacific Crest. A thru-hike of the JMT last year confirmed what she thought to be true – hiking from Mexico to Canada was her destiny for 2023. Loves good food and wine, Taylor Swift, American hospitality, and mountain vistas. Hates steep downhill slopes, her own unfortunate susceptibility to altitude sickness, and oatmeal.
Abbigale (Abby) Evans
Abby Evans (she/they) has a hankering to shave their head and hike the AT and now they will get to do both! They will be fulfilling their vagabond-dirtbag-poet dreams and aspire to one day become a creative writing professor. They’ll be listening to seventies folk music and reflecting on their life as they wander through all the states they grew up in: they were born in Maryland, grew up in New Jersey and went to college at Virginia Tech. Abby is excited for this Bildungsroman and hopes to celebrate their 23rd birthday (August 24) near Maine.
Aly is local to the southern Appalachians in western North Carolina. She has spent her life hiking, trail running, fishing, foraging, and farming; she aspires to increase her own knowledge and awareness of traditional Appalachian folk medicine, music, and skills as in an effort to live harmoniously with the mountains around her. With a degree in Ecology, Aly focuses on seasonal changes, flora, and fauna while hiking the Appalachian Trail.
A queer Alaskan, Iris, aka Panther, strives to build adventure into their life. The last years have been filled with world travel, skiing, packrafting, hiking, backpacking, vanlife, and epic trips across Alaska. This year’s highlight is to walk from Mexico to Canada. Or, at least, just to keep walking somewhere.
David “Good Soup” is excited to be sharing their northbound Appalachian Trail with you! This is their first ever backpacking trip and they hope all the reading and shakedown hikes they did pay off. In addition to being a novice backpacker, Good Soup is also managing a schedule of recurring medical treatments back home in Wisconsin in order to make this trip happen.
Derek is a 37 years young Northern California native, presently thriving in San Antonio, Texas. In no particular order he is a physician, veteran, hiker, nerd, and jokester. In his free time he enjoys taking selfies with wildlife, and thinking of spirit animals the represent his current mood.
Eddie is a travel PTA, physical therapist assistant, who’s been dreaming of the PCT for four years. In his spare time he enjoys photography, karaoke, and has other eclectic hobbies. He’s originally from southern Arizona, Tucson, and is excited to get back to his primary partner and dogs after the trail.
Elke comes from Germany and wants to thruhike the AT with her dog Tilli. It is her first stay in the USA und doesn t hiking before. She has 3 nearly grown up sons and a husband who take care of everything while she is hiking with her 9 year old dog Tilli.
Dreaming of being on trail is Emily’s favorite pastime. A 37-year-old journalist from Juneau, Alaska, she risked it all a few years ago (left her job, sold all her belongings and moved to the Lower 48) in pursuit of something new and beautiful. She found it in thru-hiking and hasn’t looked back since. You may know her as “Bear Spray Girl” from her LASH on the AT in 2021, or “Legs” from her PCT thru in 2022.
Jake is currently on the AT attempting his first thru-hike. A proud Wisconsin resident, he enjoys beer, the outdoors, and the Green Bay Packers. On trail, Jake is known as “Radioface” and is obsessed with cosmic brownies. Follow Jake on his own, daily podcast at whereisjakeat.com.
Mary is a boring woman who likes to make various things, especially her hiking gear. She also has problems completing a thru hike. She did half the PCT in 2017 and a month on the CDT in 2022.
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