I wasn’t planning on writing a post about this and I even told you I wasn’t going to. But I have received so many kind messages and comments about it, here I am. A lot of you have mentioned how inspiring my trip is or how brave I am and while I really appreciate the sentiment, I am also a firm believer that we are capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe. So if by sharing this I can inspire even just one person to believe in themselves, to invest in themselves and to trust themselves, then it will be worth it. Here we go – a few scribbled thoughts and some blurry photos from my month on the Appalachian Trail.
June 27 // Big Branch Shelter
I left my Dad in Vermont this morning. I had to leave quickly in order to hold back tears, ‘one foot in front of the other,’ I kept telling myself. About three miles in I realized that from here on out I was all alone. Except I wasn’t. ‘Welcome to the AT’ he said as he passed me almost doubling my speed. People pass me by, moms and dads and families. Just when I start to think that no one else is around, a friendly face comes around the corner. I guess that’s why they call this the people’s trail.
June 30 // Thistle Hill
If yesterday was tough mentally, then today was definitely the toughest physically. I was on the edge of tears more than once, the humidity was almost too much to walk through. Everything is soaked from my own sweat. I kept telling myself to slow down but something in me wants to know what I am capable of. Patience is not a quality I possess, but I know this hike will be a practice in that. Smiles over miles as they say. I read somewhere that loneliness is a sign that you are in desperate need of yourself. I keep thinking about that out here. I have to be the best company I keep and lately I feel like I have been my own worst enemy. Comparison and doubt and criticism are not qualities I would care for in a friend, so there can’t be any room for them in my heart either.
July 3 // Hexacuba Shelter
My feet are starting to hurt and it’s slowly weighing on my mood. It’s painful to walk and I can feel shin splints starting in my right leg. As I write this it seems funny to think that this hike is something I wanted to do. I do love being outside though. I love seeing how the light changes through the trees. I love the feel of the evening air after I change into my sleeping clothes and brush my teeth. I love how the river water feels on my feet after walking all day. The trail is meditative for me, even though it is tough. One foot in front of the other, just me and my thoughts. Sometimes hoping to meet a friendly face at the next shelter to share hiking stories and a couple of laughs. Tonight has been good for that.
July 9 // Osgood Tentsite
Up and over Mount Washington today. I did a work for stay at Mispah Hut last night and it was nice to have a roof over my head and warm coffee in the morning. I find myself envious of those travelling hut to hut through the white mountains. Sometimes I wish for that same sense of security and comfort, but I know it’s not what I need. To hike is to feel alive, but giving up on certain comforts is really tough.
July 14 // Black Brooke
I resorted to eating trail mix and chocolate for dinner tonight under the shelter of my tent in the pouring rain. Everything is filthy from the mud and soaked from the rain but I’m happy to be in my sleeping bag, in dry clothes and with a full belly. Only another 2 weeks to go. It’s going by so fast. There are moments where I would give anything to be at home, to take a real shower and cook up a bunch of vegetables in my kitchen, but there are other times where I’m not even sure I ever want it to be over.
July 15 // Sabbath Day Pond
What started out as a tough day ended as a great one. I started hiking in the pouring rain, my tent covered in mud but I cleaned it off as best I could and headed up the mountain. A steep long climb before 8am and already my stomach was grumbling after my trail mix dinner last night. The day pushed on with less and less rain and now the sun is setting over the pond and my tent is drying and my pasta is cooking. I spent some time reading my book and chatting with the only other hiker here. I’ve learned that if you keep on moving forward, the trail will give you exactly what you need.
July 18 // Horns Pond
Today I realized that I could be done this whole hike on the 29th. That will be a total of 32 days on the trail. I was filling my water bottles up by the pond and the sun was setting behind the mountains and for the first time since I started I felt totally relaxed. I guess it takes a bit of time to get into this thing. I no longer feel like I have to be up at the crack of dawn and hike all day. I don’t feel rushed anymore. I’m walking at my own pace and it feels good and steady. This feels like my time.
July 19 // West Carry Pond
I think a lot about marriage out here. About how people often say that marriage is hard. But I don’t think that’s true. I think what can be hard is being with someone who ends up knowing you better than you know yourself. I think being able to look in the mirror is what’s actually hard. Acknowledging our own faults in front of someone else, that’s really tough. What I’m starting to realize out here is that I am whole and complete all by myself. I can stand alone. And if I can stand alone beside someone else, strong and confident, well then that is what will make any relationship last. A relationship happens within the space between two people, so I’ve got to hold that space. Anyways, 14 miles to do before 2pm tomorrow so I can catch the ferry (a canoe!) and then onto a milkshake!
July 22 // Monson
I think about you all the time out here. You’re so strong and confident in your choices and you never really care what anyone thinks. I’ve always admired that about you. And you love me in a way that no one else ever has, you show me that I can be like that too – strong and brave. Not perfect but courageous and alive. To feel alive, it’s not always pleasant or comfortable but man it makes your heart bound.
July 24 // Newhall Lean-to
The days feel longer now that the end is near. The last miles always seem to be the longest. Even today I’m feeling tired and oh so hungry all the time. At the same time I am strong. So much stronger than I have ever given myself credit for. I am brave. Here I am hiking on my own, something I never thought I could do. I’m doing my own thing and it feels good. The loneliness has disappeared, I guess I really was in desperate need of myself. The trail surprises you in so many ways, and even though sometimes we don’t always get what we want, we somehow always get exactly what we need.
July 26th // Wadleigh Lean-to
The trail is a test in patience, or I guess I should say a lesson in patience. It’s often easier to do more than it is to do less, at least for me. Stay busy, set goals, keep moving forward, push yourself. But what if I had time, what if I didn’t do those extra miles? What would I do then? How do I do nothing? This is not something I am good at, not something that comes easy to me. But I’m learning to be still with myself and that’s something for sure.
July 28h // The Birches
Last shelter. Last night. Last time cooking outside and peeing in a privy. Last time wondering who else will be around or if I’ll be all by myself. I’ll be around now and I know I’ll be ok. I know now that I’ll always get what I need. And if the trail works this way than so does life. It’s getting out there and meeting people and moving and doing something you might be scared of – it’s all these things that work in your favor. It’s putting one foot in front of the other. It’s me. (It’s no more mosquitoes!)
July 29th // Katahdin Stream Ranger Station
550 miles on the AT under my feet, still dry, still smiling, still forever hungry! The days of ‘happy trails’ are almost over for now and there is an ice cream cone by the ocean with my name on it. To all those I’ve met along the way, may your coming days keep you clean, well fed and dreaming of new adventures. Be kind to yourself, forever and always. A million congratulations on how far you’ve come. x