6 Thoughts on the First Week of a Thru

We’ve become animals and have moved into a bear den with the still semi-hibernating beasts. It’s been a week, and we’re starting to smell like one of them. But really, it’s been two weeks so we’re still new to the thru, but at least have a bit under our belt. We’ve made it as far as what looks like one inch on the map of the whole trail, so that’s comforting. Here are the first week of thoughts:

1) This is wild. We’re doing it.

There’s been so much planning up to this point, and all of a sudden the moment is here. You worry you’ll fail or you’re not up to the challenge.

2) How am I this out of shape? I did squats.

Those first set of stairs on the Approach Trail of the AT whipped me like no other. I was embarrassed as I stopped to catch my breath. But also my stomach hurt for the first two days until I threw up on the second night, so I can partially blame that. But in reality, I felt like someone who has stayed on my couch for the last five years.

3) This is gorgeous, let me stay forever.

Not much else to say aside from how the views are breathtaking. Each step you take shows you a new form of beauty.

4) Help. My body is dying.

You can’t sit down without the fear of standing up. It takes 5 hours to stand up, and when you finally do, you hobble like you’ve broken two ankles. It’s a great look.

5) I smell like an animal.

The other day, Kyle was changing in his tent and the wind wafted his trail musk over to my tent. Not the best way to wake up in the morning. It’s not obvious to you because you become nose blind, but you sure realize you smell when a townie at the bar sits next to you, takes a sniff and moves to the other end of the bar.

6) Ok. I can handle this.

Amidst all this, you’re meeting people at shelters, seeing beautiful views and finding your zen. It’s a wild ride that is almost indescribable.

Why You Shouldn’t Hike the AT

You see people’s true colors when they realize you’re doing something that they believe is a horrible mistake. You get the caring, harmless worriers saying, “can I put a tracker in your arm?” or “don’t get eaten by a bear.” You get the people who don’t get why you’re doing it: “I can’t understand why you’d do this to yourself” or “the PCT is cooler.” Then, there’s my least favorite: “don’t go because what if you fail.”

Everyone has said something when they find out I’m doing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Some are excited for me, nervous for me or happy that I’m stoked for this adventure. Many have tried to stop me from going. So, clearly, amidst all these naysayers, I’ve decided to use up all my teenage rebellion that I didn’t use in the first place. I’ll go on the trail despite those who’ve tried to convince me otherwise—I’ll finish or I won’t. Regardless of the end-game, it’ll be a wild ride that I can’t yet fathom. If you’re on board with my adventure, take a look at the details, packing list and all the planning I’ve done that is sure to go out the window as soon as I set foot on the trail.
The Dirty Deets:
I’m rolling out beginning of March for a chilly start on the Approach Trail with my friend, Kyle. My Mom thinks it’s good to be going with a friend so I can feed him to the bear and make my getaway if we ever get attacked.

Luckily, both Kyle and I have skills to bring to the hike, which should save us in dire backcountry emergencies. Kyle: dad jokes and the ability to drink twice as much Pabst as the average man. Me: dance moves and laugh-crying.

My pack isn’t ultralight, but it’s not crazy heavy (base weight: about 16 lbs). I got the pack weight down by wearing tall socks and shorts instead of pants, a skill passed onto me from my brother’s après ski lifestyle.

It will be a pretty straight shot to Maine aside from a week-long break I’m taking to see one of my best friends get married in North Carolina. Somehow, I’ll have to hitch a ride down there in all my smelly glory. I’m saying a preemptive “you’re welcome” to the friendly stranger who lends me a seat in their car.
The Trail:


The Appalachian Trail is a 2,190-mile trail that spans from Georgia to Maine. Hikers start in the Spring if going from South to North, which is what I’m doing. Hikers trek through and sleep in the forest with stops in towns along the way for showers, food and rest about every 4-7 days. It goes through 14 states and there is approximately a 464,500′ gain/loss in elevation along the way, about the same as if you ascended and descended Mount Everest 8 times.
The Gear List (as of now):

Packed Gear Weight Worn Gear Weight
Big Agnes FlyCreek UL1 1 lb 10 oz 1 sock 2 oz
Footprint 4 oz 1 undie 2 oz
Thermarest Ridgerest 14 oz Leggings 3 oz
Osprey Kyte 36 Liter 3 lbs 14 oz 1 T 3.6 oz
Sea to Summit Bag Liner 8.7 oz Pataguc fleece 11.7 oz
Nemo Siren 30 degree Sleeping Bag 1 lb 3 oz Shorts 4.7 oz
Pocket Rocket 3 oz Sports Bra 3.2 oz
Black Diamond Headlamp 3 oz Raincoat 6 oz
Katadyn Filter 3 oz Beanie 1.7 oz
Pot/fuel/utensil/stove 1 lb 9 oz Buff 1.2 oz
Brush/Paste/Nail Clipper/Face stuff 3 ox Gloves 1.2 oz
Advil/Moleskin/Benadryl/bandaids/neosporin 2 oz Trail Runners 9 oz
Lighter 0.7 oz
2 wool socks 5 oz
2 undies 4 oz
Leggings 3 oz
Longsleeve T 4.7 oz
1 T 3.6 oz
Wool midlayer 8.7 oz
Rain pants TBD
Cap 3.7 oz
Tweezers 0.2 oz
CamelBak 6.7 oz
Hand Sanitizer 2.2 oz
Washcloth 0.7 oz
Fem Stuff 4 oz
Sunglasses/case 3.7 oz
Charger/extra battery 6 oz
Phone 8 oz
Meds 0.8 oz
Soap 2 oz
Insect repellent