“Why would you do that?” -my mom

Hello everyone! My name is Jenna, no trail name. So I’ve been struggling with how to start my first blog post for a few weeks, and true to form, I’m figuring it all out at the last minute. I’ve read the first posts of other bloggers for this year and it seems most people write about the reason they’re doing a thru hike. I guess my struggle has been trying to formulate my “reason why” in a way that sounds inspiring and awe worthy, and honestly it isn’t. I’m not hiking the PCT, CDT, or AT. I’m hiking the Long Trail, southbound, just a measly 273 miles. The reason I’m doing this is because it sounds fun and obtainable. I’ve always wanted to do one of the triple crown trails, but that’s another story for a couple paragraphs from now.

I live in the southwestern corner of New Hampshire, so The Long Trail in Vermont is, like, right there. I can look out the windows at work towards the hills of VT and literally see it. My boss gave me three weeks off to hike it. So all I had to do was schedule some vacation time and ask a work friend who also loves the outdoors to bring our next bag of food to a predetermined location two or three times. My partner also scheduled three weeks off from his job. Easy-peasy. Nobody had to ask themselves if hiking was more important than monetary gain (it is though) or figure out how to maintain their place of residence over a long term absence. My sister in law will water my plants.

Next I did some counting on fingers and toes to decide how many days we’d spend out there so I knew how many meals we’d eat. I hit Pinterest to learn how to make our meals myself to save money, space, and weight and know exactly what we’re eating. Our gear is ready, our food is ready, we’re ready. We leave in a week. My step brother will drive us to the northern terminus in exchange for filling his gas tank on the way there, then again once we arrive at Canada. Steep price these days.

Now you’re asking, if getting ready for this hike was so easy, why not challenge yourselves a bit and hike a triple crown trail? Are you just unmotivated and lazy? Yeah, a little, but usually only when it comes to doing the dishes or vacuuming. I had planned to hike the AT in 2020 with my significant other at the time, and turned down a last minute offer to hike it with a coworker in 2019. I knew I wouldn’t be hiking the trail with the significant other I had because sometimes you just know things won’t work out. No hard feelings. So I had no qualms about canceling the plans I had with him to hike with her.The problem was I really liked my lifted Jeep Wrangler I had and wouldn’t have a way to make my car payments while hiking. Then my parents said they wouldn’t do the dirty work of selling my motorcycle to pay for my car just because I wanted to go experiment in the forest in three weeks time with no planning. Fine. I loved that Jeep.

Here’s where the story gets fucky and regretty. Three weeks later she left without me. Two weeks after that I crashed my longboard and re-tore an old meniscus injury, and the meniscus on the other side (we have it on both sides in there I guess. Or I did anyway.), snapped my ACL clean in half, strained my MCL and got some epic looking road rash. Welp. Guess I’m not hiking anytime soon. Six months later I sold the Jeep Wrangler because there was a human head sized hole rotted through the floor. So then I didn’t have the primary object that had stopped me from hiking, but I did have a significant injury that will stop me from hiking.

I saw a surgeon who specialized in multi-ligament tears. He was surprised I was still hiking and snowboarding (I waited until December because I was in denial about my first MRI results) with how my MRI looked but said his son worked for Burton and understands how those of us who partake in extreme sports have no regard for our personal safety and feel no pain. He said I couldn’t tear what isn’t there anymore and to just schedule surgery whenever I was ready, since it wasn’t negatively impacting my life all that much. I decided to wait until snowboarding season was almost over, just a couple more months. Then covid hit and I couldn’t have surgery, and I’ve since healed enough to not really want it for now. I’ve spent three years hiking and running enough to finally trust my knee to do a longer backpacking trip. I guess I did have a decent reason to hike a long distance trail after all! The Long Trail is my messed up knee’s test run. I’ll wear a brace sometimes, I promise.

My partner also hasn’t done a longer backpacking trip even though he’s always wanted to, because much like myself he hadn’t been with or known anyone to go with. Obviously hiking alone is possible and admirable, but it probably isn’t a great idea for either of us, and knowing that is half the battle. Now we have each other and can make up for what the other person isn’t as strong in. He makes sure I don’t do anything too dangerous or dumb and helps maintain the positive attitude, and I make sure we have enough food and the right supplies packed, and determine the when’s and where’s of our resupplies. His reasoning for hiking the Long Trail is about the same as mine. It sounds fun and was easy enough to schedule without an entire life reorganizing.

We know it won’t be all rainbows and unicorn farts, parts of the backpacking experience are going to suck, but thanks to my trauma response, I’ll just forget the bad parts anyway. If the Long Trail goes well, we’re planning to tackle bigger hikes, completely overhaul our way of living, and discard the shackles of modern society. Or something like that.

Stay tuned for next the episode where we discuss what we learned in our shakedown hike.

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Comments 4

  • Jared : Aug 11th

    Awesome first post! I’m heading southbound myself the 29th, and I feel you on the knee injury! Glad you were able to get the time, I’m sure you guys will have a blast! Happy hiking, be safe, be well!

    • Jenna : Aug 12th

      Thank you! It’s great you’re able to do the trail too, I hope your trip goes great!

  • Willi Pyro : Aug 12th

    Don’t apologize for how long or short a trail might be – this one or any other. The Long Trail is an icon that many hikers have heard of, but will never hike. So do it! Learn from it! Embrace the suck and enjoy the rest! Tell all of us what you experience, what you see, and what you feel. We’ll be listening …

    • Jenna : Aug 13th

      Amazing response, thank you! I can’t wait to share how our journey goes!


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