I am hiking the Appalachian Trail this year. This journey is not only to complete the trail, but also to gather stories from hikers along the way.
The project is called, The Ones Who Walk . This project aims to explore the very question that I am asking myself - what brings us to the point of breaking away from our lives, taking a risk, choosing to walk?
My departure date is April 1st. I'm excited and anxious about the journey, and I'd like to share some of both of those emotions with you.
I have wanted to hike the entirety of the AT since I completed the first 700 miles (GA-VA) in 2012, after graduating from college.
Last year I came up with a story-collecting and writing project built around a thru-hike (full hike of the AT).
The project began as a story contest proposal. I submitted the idea to an online publication's contest [Narratively ]. My proposal was a finalist. Since then, I've not been able to stop thinking about the project and have continued to develop the idea.
The Ones Who Walk is a story-collecting project that aims to explore the forces in our lives that bring us to major breakaway journeys. These journeys take us from our normal lives, interrupt our routine, risk our careers, provide respite from stress, or manifest a dream we've found the time to pursue.
The project transcends the AT. The trail is a conduit for the questions explored in this project, a project I hope to continue into other journey spaces (vanlife, or off-grid homes, or other nontraditional life styles). While the stories gathered are from trail hikers, the questions explored in the project speak to a human experience beyond the trail: in an age of anxiety, high stress levels, constant pinging from social media and advertising, what motivates us to take a leave of absence from our normal lives?
I have yet to find pieces written with an intentional third eye case on the role of the AT in the greater context of our human existence. WHY do we feel the need to escape, leave, to risk? What does it means that people continually feel the desire to break away--and what happens when we choose to walk?
You can learn more about the project and follow during my hike at the The Ones Who Walk website.
-- -- -- --
Fear of failure, being uncomfortable and leaving a city I've called home for 20 years.
I've had a big year of changes, developments, growth, and more emotional pain than I expected (but I've learned alot about expectations). I have introduced self-development practices, positive thinking, self-affirmations and intentionality to my life. The most impactful thing I've learned is this:
I am enough.
and from that:
My desire to do something is enough.
Enough of a reason to pursue, follow through, make it happen. (this goes for you, too, reader). Enough of a reason to hike, challenge myself, grow and learn from other hikers’ stories.
I have not always known this. I am grateful to know it now. That I am enough, and capable to manifest my dreams. That my desire to hike and gather stories, is reason enough to go out and do just that.
I am uncomfortable asking for support, but I believe in the potential for growth in things that make us uncomfortable. I believe in the support from my community - one that I have cultivated and developed for most of my life. The one that has supported me in many ways to this point.
Thank you for your support, whether words or funds.
-- -- --
The cost of hiking the AT averages out to about $2/mile. The Appalachian Trail is 2,190 miles long. The journey will take five months (April -August 2018).
Additionally, as an adult, we incur costs merely to exist. The cost of hiking includes loan payments, health insurance, perhaps car insurance, anything back home that one must keep up with regardless of living for five months in the woods. So the cost is more than just the hike. But the journey and the stories I will gather are worth it.
What I am asking for is less than I need. I am sharing the cost of this and asking for support.
Funds are for food, resupply items (stove fuel, toiletries, necesseties etc.) and time. Time to organize stories, write blog entries and keep up with the project as it grows and develops. Time for this project will most likely translate to extra time in town, at a coffee shop or hotel. This time is to organize stories, store recordings, update the website and share blogs & posts with supporters and project-followers.
This time will incur extra costs. I feel it is worth it and every bit of support helps me share this project, stories and answer questions.
What funds will not be used for:
To make loan payments, or pay health insurance. These are costs I must cover to take this hike. Sadie’s food and needs on the trail, less than the cost of a person hiking, but still significant- I’ve got her covered!
To keep costs lower, I am pre-packing all of my food using dehydrated meals I've compiled from a wonderful company and organizing a series of boxes that my amazing parents will mail to me along the way. Trail towns have post offices that are well-experienced with hiker boxes.
I have purchased all of the gear for both me and Sadie, and the project (microphone for recording, ipad for storing and sharing content as I hike, website building).
A bed and shower are indescribably wonderful to a thru-hiker. Every so often, when passing through a town, I'll choose to take a zero day. This means zero miles hiked. These days are important for rest, but also for The Ones Who Walk project. The stories I am collecting will take time to download from the microphone, store in the magical internet cloud, and then share through the blog.
Zero days are going to be key to this project!
Please don't hesitate to reach out to me with questions about the project, my hike or my story.
I am grateful, excited, anxious and look forward to sharing stories with you.
DonationsSee top donations
- Billie Harmon
- Brian and Debbie McCaffrey
- Lawrence Long
- Terri Springer
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more