Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm hiking to Maine for 5, maybe 6 months and subsequently people have a lot of questions they want to ask me about it. I'm happy to answer all of them, anytime, but I thought I'd write out some of the questions I hear often. There are tons of other questions that I always get asked and probably tons more that I have yet to even ask myself, but here it goes...

How long will it take me?
Well I guess I already answered this question. But, I'm planning for about 5 months with the knowledge that it may take longer. Thru-hikers average about 6 months, with some crazies completing it in record times around 2 months and other slower souls taking the better portion of a year. There is a window that I have to complete the hike in since I am hiking north to Maine, since the weather by late October makes many of the mountains impassable and a number of the parks actually close all together. So, I will start March 12th and hopefully end around the middle of August.

Who are you going with? You're not going by yourself are you?
Well, originally I was planning on going with a good friend of mine from childhood. We talked about doing it awhile ago, and when the time finally came he had other things in mind. I'm not upset at all and I understand his reasons completely. It would be nice to have someone from home with me, that being said, I'm not exactly hiking alone either. Thousands of people start every year on top of Springer Mountain with the same goal in mind. Since the majority of people decide to start around the same time give or take a few weeks, I will surely meet tons and tons of people. I will no doubt meet up with those who hike a similar pace. I won't be alone in the woods for half a year and no, I have no reason to thing I will go crazy. haha

Where are you going to sleep?
This is a backpacking trip and therefore I will be sleeping the majority of my nights in the woods. There are over 250 shelters (three-sided buildings) along the trail that I plan to spend a lot of nights in. I am also bringing a 1 person tent to sleep in if the shelters are too crowded, I want some privacy, or I'm in between shelter locations. There are also many towns that I will be passing through along the way to resupply every 3-6 days or so, so I will probably enjoy a warm shower and a nice comfy motel bed every now and then, too.

How will you get food? and what will you eat?
I thought about preparing food packages to send to post offices along the trail ahead of time, but then decided I would just resupply as I go. A couple of reasons; 1)It's tough to know exactly when I'll be somewhere when I haven't even started hiking yet 2)Shipping costs can be expensive 3)What if I don't want the food I packed? What if I'm tired of ramen and snickers and pop tarts and crave something different? It's just not a very flexible plan.. granted it may make me head into towns more and spend more money, but for me I want to be flexible and enjoy my time out there on the A.T.

How will you stayed connected to the real world (everyone you love so much back home)!?
I will be bringing my cell phone and my mini usb charger. I will keep my phone off for most of the time to save battery, but will turn it on frequently to check messages or to call back home. I am doing this trip because I want to, but I am sacrificing a lot to do it. Leaving all of the people I love so much is going to be the most challenging thing about the trail for me. I'll charge up in towns and make sure to keep my phone in multiple, tightly sealed zip-loc bags. I'm leaving to hike this trail not without the love and support of my loved ones back home and I want them to be as much a part of this as they can too.

Speaking of staying connected, if I wanted to join you on the trail to hike or just meet up with you how would I do it?
Like I said, I'll have my phone so you can contact me on that with a message, or we can try to plan something out before I leave on March 12th, with the knowledge that I may not be exactly where I say I will be. I will post up a detailed itinerary on here soon, that is an attempt to guess how many miles I'll be hiking each day and when I'll be where. It probably won't go exaclty like I plan it out, but it should give you a rough estimate. If there's a specific section you would like to meet me at, let me know now and I can be sure to contact you closer to when I will be there. I would love, love, love to see as many people I know while on the trail.. so please don't hesitate.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Childhood Dreams

Growing up I didn't think too much about the future. I figured everything would work itself out the way it was supposed to. I remember in 8th grade our school counselors had us fill out forms for high school to put us on some sort of vocational track. We wrote down on a piece of paper as 13 year olds what we thought we would like to become when we grew up. I took it seriously. I had never really thought about it before. It felt like a monumental decision that would in essence define me and my future ambitions. I didn't really have any then. I wanted to get home to play Madden or go shoot some hoops at the Catholic Church with my friends. I wanted to go to movies at the Hollywood 24 or ride around on my inline skates in the empty parking lot of the old BellSouth building. I didn't know what the heck I wanted to do with my life.

I wrote down Journalism. My parents thought I was a good writer.

I went to high school and knew even less about my future. My life consisted of girlfriends and parties and varsity baseball practice. I knew I wanted to go to college and have a self-defined successful life someday, but it wasn't now. I took the SATs and then the next step was to look at colleges. I wanted to go to UNC, but Briana Kelly was the only one from our grade to be accepted there. I went to UGA instead.

I was forced to decide on a path again, just like in 8th grade. I chose Psychology; it was excitingly interesting in high school, I figured it would be something fun to study more about. And then I started to think about life after college. Welcome to my life as an indecisive, worry wort. I changed my Major to Advertising ("ooh applying Psychology kind of to something more realistic"), and then to Education ("I'm not really interested in anything, but I do like kids"), and then back to Psychology ("I don't really have a passion to teach any specific subject, I have no idea what I want to do next, I'll just get a degree in something I find interesting and figure it out later"). I graduated in May of 2010 with probably less of an idea of what I wanted to do than when I started college.

"I am going to hike the Appalachian Trail someday", I told myself for years and years. You can probably see the overall trend here. My life up until this point has been one big, indecisive clustercuss, thank you Fantastic Mr. Fox. I feel like I say to myself "ooh that sounds wonderful" or "hey I really want to do that" all the time, always followed by a "someday". I'm tired of the someday and I'm tired of the indecision.

It's like I'm not willing to accept the responsibility of growing up. I'm terrified to stumble or make a wrong move that I'm paralyzed. I need this time to comprehend my life thus far; to take a step back from "everyday" and just live simply for a little while. I feel like I need to charge up for something, for adulthood or just my future. I'm confused and my brain doesn't seem to want to kick into gear and flow smoothly.

I don't really know if leaving for 6 months is going to solve my indecision or answer all of my questions, but I think it will at the very least give me an opportunity to accept a lot of things about myself and be more confident in whatever direction my future takes me. I look forward to the commitment of the trail and I am excited to fulfill one of my greatest childhood dreams.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, Fresh Start

Well 2010 came and went with a lot of ups and downs. I graduated from college (up) and struggled to figure out what the hell is next (down). I always have that fresh start feeling when I wake up on January 1st, but this year I especially felt it. I know this is going to be a crazy year with the trail promising to account for nearly half of it. This is a big year for "me" and I look forward to accomplishing dreams and learning a lot about myself.

I'm incredibly EXCITED