Although I had never set foot on the Appalachian Trail before we left for our hike, I had read probably about 15 books and watched a few documentaries about it too so I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect. Even so, there were many things that surprised me about the trail.
I had a pretty strong feeling that I was going to like the trail, but it’s hard to really know until you get out there. It’s kind of a bizarre thing to do- wake up every, pack up all your stuff, and walk north. And then do it all again the next day and the day after, for six months. I wasn’t sure if it was something that would lose it’s magic and become more of a chore than anything. I knew I was probably stubborn enough to finish the trail whether I liked it or not, but I was surprised when I took to the trail like a duck to water. For someone who had never had a great love of camping and who had only backpacked one day in my life, I had no idea I would fall in love with the entire thing. I really never got sick of any of our “chores” like filtering water and setting up and taking down camp. They just became the new normal of my life, but I never grew bored of them.
I also was kind of surprised that I never once thought of quitting. I think it’s fairly normal for a thru hiker at some point in the hike to have thoughts of wanting to go home but that never happened for me. There were difficult days and certainly days when I didn’t really feel like hiking but never once did I wish I was somewhere else. I loved the lifestyle of the trail- sleeping in a different place every night, always moving forward, never spending too much time in one place, sleeping and waking with the sun, seeing the stars every night.
I also wasn’t expecting the trail to change me as much as it did. I thought it would be something that I accomplished and then moved on from. But the lessons I learned on the trail have changed the way I think of life and has made me a better person. I have more confidence and I care more genuinely about people. I’m not sure when my next adventure will be but I can’t wait to find out! There is a possibility of a Pacific Crest Trail thru hike in my future- stay tuned for more details!