Well, it looks like you found the page where you can finally understand why the heck I’m embarking on a 6 month journey to “live like a homeless person”… as most people tenderly say when they hear about my trip.
Where do I begin? Something such as hiking the Appalachian Trail – and my full blown wanderlust – is hard to explain to others who do not have that same viewpoint or interests.
Ever since I was a kid, I was outside. Finding bugs, hatching butterflies, playing with my wildlife animal toys around the tree roots, creating survival huts, active in Girl Scouts, growing my own minerals (much love to the Smithsonian kits), learning how to use a bow & arrow, going to camp, watching Steve Irwin’s show, etc. I was just someone naturally drawn to nature at an early age – as are all humans – but some more than others keep that connection right on their skin during the rest of their lives.
When I was 4, I saw Jurassic Park in 1993. Too young? No, not at all. It was one of the most pivotal films and moments in my life. My obsession with palaeontology and science roared into a career, where I now work on fossilised dinosaurs at a prestigious research museum in Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Not only do I work in the scientific community, but I am also an Naturalist and Educator teaching the public about environmental conservation, biology, scientific history, you name it.
Earth Sciences are a huge part of my life. I want to know everything I can about nature and the universe, how it all (theoretically) works, and especially how humans can co-exist with Nature; not use her.
I also have my family to thank. As lovers of nature, they taught me at an early age to respect and appreciate the world I live in. Not to litter, to be kind to all animals, respect our wildlife, research and help the environment… just go out into the forest and listen.
Here I am at 27 years old, about to embark on the biggest journey of my life. I’ve travelled throughout Europe and North America so far, and I have many places to hit for the rest of the my life.
I want to go everywhere at once; my case of wanderlust is quite severe. How do you choose though? Australia? Antarctica? Nova Scotia? Fiji? There’s just too many places I dream about on a daily basis…
My mother had mentioned to me to just pick one first and stick to it. Not focus on all the places I wanted to go, but hyper focus on the adventure I was going to do first. It all clicked.
It was right in my backyard: The Appalachian Trail.
I’ve hiked sections of the trail over my life, and it’s almost something I’ve taken for granted. People of all walks of life travel from around the world to attempt a 2200 mile thruhike, and yet here I am with the Pinnacle an hour from my house. It’s been on my adventure bucketlist for a long time, but I realised this was the perfect start to the next chapter in my life.
Hiking for 2200 miles in 6 months through 14 states is a huge adventure to take on. You need to have the right gear, knowledge, and mental ability to understand what you’re about to put your mind and body through. It’s what I’m addicted to.
The thought of summitting peak after peak just gives me the chills. I can’t describe what the trail does for me other than bring tears to my eyes.
It’s apart of who I am, and to commit to this lifestyle for 2017 is something I can’t believe is finally happening.
After this thruhike, it’ll propel me forward to all my other adventures, all my other dreams, and it will make me feel more invincible than ever.
I’m 28 now, and a bit has changed during 2017. After injuring myself in the Smoky Mountains, I had to go home at the 1/3rd mark on the AT to rest and see doctors. I tore the medial meniscus in my left knee, which I tried to treat on my own for 500 miles after tearing it. Yes, I hiked 500 miles on a torn knee. Crazy, right? I didn’t want to leave, but the pain and constant 15-18 mile days ended up killing me. Doctors urged me to get off trail and receive surgery. What a huge bummer.
I’m only 1/3rd of the way done, and not technically a “thruhiker” anymore since I got off trail due to an injury. Whatever, I’m completing it as a section hiker, and I am going to have to be okay with that. I’m returning to the trail in May of 2018 to finish what I started, and hike right on up to Katahdin… as long as I don’t severely hurt myself again!
Stay tuned for gear upgrades, posts about my experiences on the AT this 2017 year, and all my prep for the rest of the trail, plus many others in the future!