It’s been two years since I started my thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail. It’s been two years since I hugged my family goodbye and set out north on an adventure that would change me in ways I didn’t even know needed changing. Since that day, I made it all the way to Maine on foot. I made it through seven months without my cat! I made it back home to my family in one piece. I made it through intense post trail depression. I made it through the loss of multiple friends, some old and some I’d just made. I made it through back surgery. I made it through starting a new job five days after that surgery. The Appalachian Trail changed me. It made me more confident and braver than I ever would’ve imagined I could be. It made me realize how strong AND how weak I can be. I know what my body and my mind are capable of. I know what I can live without AND what I can live with.
This year, there are big changes coming up. I’m going to attempt to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail… southbound in a high snow year which everyone won’t shut up about… and my son is graduating high school and going off to college. The more I think about it, the more I start to worry, and the more I forget that I am confident and brave. Every day that increases the distance between me and Mt. Katahdin, I lose a little bit of who I’d become. I am no longer fearless but that’s okay because, today, on my A.T. start date anniversary, I look at this picture of myself on Springer Mountain and all I can do is smile. I was scared then, too, but it didn’t stop me. It was freezing, rainy, and foggy. I was exhausted. I was completely alone at the plaque. I watched a guy have to leave on his first day because he slipped in the mud and hurt himself. I was so excited and terrified at the same time. I remember that day in such great detail but I barely recognize myself in this picture. I’m not that person anymore, but if she could make it to Maine, then I can make it to Mexico. See ya soon, PCT!