But Why Do You Want to Spend 6 Months in the Woods??

Hello!

We’ve gotten this question and many others since we started telling people that we plan to thru hike the Appalachian Trail this year. Others include- how much will your pack weigh? How will you eat/where will you get food? Will you be carrying *all* of your food at once? Where will you sleep? How many miles will you walk per day? How often will you go into town/do laundry/shower? Bryce, how will you shave your head???

If you follow along here long enough, (and if we are as diligent about posting as we hope to be…) you should find the answer to all of these questions and more!! To start off, we want to introduce our intentions. We hope this will help keep us accountable and help our friends and family motivate us along the way! We’ll do a post about our gear next.

We plan to start our hike on March 14. Mirage’s mom will be driving us down to Amicalola State Park in her RV (Veronica). We’ll camp in the park the night before, then hit the trail bright and early the next morning. Mom will hike the stairs with us then we will continue on our own!

Mom has probably been doing more physical prep than we have. She’s been trying to get in at least 30 mins of physical activity a day to prepare for the 500 steps we have to climb. (I know it’s not actually 500 but I just say a different random high number every time I talk about the stairs. Real feel of a million.) The best we’ve done is a shake-down hike early in February… the rest of our month has been devoted to the seemingly never-ending to-do list of tying up loose ends and packing away our “real world” life.

But why are we choosing to do this?

Mirage

Mirage on 2018 LASH.

I still remember when I first learned about the Appalachian Trail. My parents took me to hike on the trail, I think it was to earn a badge, and explained that it stretched from Georgia to Maine. I was still too young to really understand the full breadth of what that meant as I lacked a good understanding of geography (still do tbh..) but I was fascinated. It stayed with me as a fantastical dream, especially when I got involved in Scouts in high school and was exposed to more outdoor experiences. In 2018 I did a LASH (Long Ass Section Hike) from Georgia to Southern VA before I started nursing school. It was the best time of my life. If I hadn’t worked so hard to get into nursing school I probably would have stayed and finished. Ever since, I’ve gone from dreaming of a thru-hike to full-on obsession.

While there is never a “convenient” time to spend 6 months in the woods, this is about as convenient as it’s going to get for us. We aren’t caretakers for parents or kids (just two kitty cats who will be staying with my dad). We are both comfortable in our careers and can take time off without worrying about finding a job when we get back. We are both firm believers in not putting off the things we want to do, life is generally shorter than one expects and the best-laid plans can change in an instant. We don’t want to keep waiting for the “right time” and realize it’s become too late. So, this is our year!

When we have made it to the other side of this adventure I hope I will:

  • Have an even deeper and more solid relationship with Bryce (for once we will go through a hard thing by choice)
  • Have tons of fun stories and memories
  • Feel stronger than I have ever felt (and maybe have calves that rival Bryce’s)
  • Feel more comfortable with being spontaneous (maybe we will camp wherever we feel instead of campsites I have highlighted in my guidebook)
  • Be part of a loving tramily (I miss my 2018 tramily <3)

Bryce

Bryce on his *first* backpacking trip.

My reasons for hiking the AT are myriad.

I am totally in love with my wife and want to support her in checking a big item off of her bucket list. I cannot imagine a cooler honeymoon than a six-month excursion.

I am grieving the loss of my father. “B” was a big part of my life and he passed in May of 2021. So this is somewhat of a spiritual journey in his honor, too.

Life is too short not to do something like this. I am increasingly alarmed by how much faster life keeps moving and this is a somewhat vain attempt to slow the clock down.

I want to work on my meditation practice. I struggle with focus and attention and have learned that meditation is a huge help with allowing myself to observe my thoughts rather than be swept away by them. This trip will provide ample daily practice.

I debated a lot about taking this trip, trying to have no illusions about how difficult and uncomfortable it will be at times made me second guess my decision. Plus, having a career in craft brewing at a good company was a hard thing to walk away from. The thought that made the decision easier is, “I know what the rest of my life will look like if I don’t go on this hike.” That makes it obvious to me that taking this hike is the right thing for me to do.

So, here we are. Intentions set, bags (almost) packed. Ready to get started on the adventure of a lifetime.

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