Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail

$557 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 14 people in 8 months
To the loved ones and supporters of Natalie Harris:

(Section hike south bound on the AT from Front Royal, VA to Waynsboro, VA. Somewhere between, 2017)

Simple living. Unadulterated freedom. Personal willpower. Tested strength.

I want to be transformed. I want to see the world, and I’m starting with the Appalachian Trail. For the last three years, I’ve become more in awe of the world around me by putting one foot in front of the other and hiking through it. I’ve dreamt of what it would be like to someday go on this journey, but in order for dreams to become a reality you have to work for them. So many people spend their lives talking about what they want to do one day that they never get around to doing it, and I do not want to live with that regret. I want to live intentionally and aggressively. I want to be an example to others who have passions. I want to experience and be a force of nature.

(AT trail marker in the Smokies. Gatlinburg, TN, 2016)

My first backpacking trip was in 2014. I hiked the 42 miles of the Tecumseh Trail in two nights and three days entirely alone. This trip left me blistered, bruised, and with a mind made up that this was and is my true passion. I first stepped foot on the Appalachian Trail in September of 2016, when my best friend and I spontaneously decided the day before to drive down to Gatlinburg to visit the Smokies. After a strenuous climb and lots of sweat, we made it to one of the most beautiful views I have ever witnessed. Sitting atop Charlies Bunion, roughly 6,000 feet above the earth below, I knew that the AT was my future and that 2018 was my time.

(Charlies Bunion. Gatlinburg, TN, 2016)

I want to explain my feelings about the trail so thoroughly because I know this is not the typical, conventional dream and because of this fact I know that for some it may be hard to comprehend why someone would willingly elect to go walk day after day for months on end. This trip will take me half a year to complete, trekking over 2,200 miles, and traveling through 14 states. As much as I love hiking, some days will not be easy—the trail is so much more than the romanticized perception it can take on. Whatever I experience physically, mentally or emotionally, I know and am confident that I will persevere. However, the best way to get past those days is to be prepared for what may come. I have been working relentlessly saving up to make this dream a reality. Although the vista views offer an incomparable paycheck after a long days work, it is an unavoidable truth that equipment will need replacing, resupplies will need to be made, and of course some bills will still need tended to back home while we are gone which will cost real money. Which is why I am reaching out to you, my wonderful friends, family, acquaintances and strangers. Any donation, of any size, will help me and my hiking partner Audrey Smiddy to keep moving onwards and upwards towards Mount Katahdin. Help be apart of my greatest adventure yet. I could not thank you enough.

-Natalie Harris

(Shenandoah National Park section-hike. SNP, VA, 2017)

To the loved ones and supporters of Audrey Smiddy:

Hey y'all, this may be a little silly to you but I was told that it never hurts to ask:

So, I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) this coming March with my good friend Natalie Harris. The AT is a scenic trail extending from Springer Mountain in Georgia over 2,000 miles to Mount Katahdin in Maine. I have been thinking and dreaming about trekking a trail like this for a very long time and this is finally my opportunity to chase mountains. I will hike between 15 and 20 miles a day for 5-6 months through 14 different states and hopefully be able to document this journey
through social media, letters, and a blog. I am writing here today because on average the cost of a thru-hike is between $4,000-$6,000 including airfare, transportation, lodging, food, gear, and emergency medical expenses. I currently am working multiple part time positions and trying my very best to save for this amazing opportunity; however, like I said I was told that it never hurts to ask. This is a platform where you can help me to reach this goal. Donating will help me to pay for my food every day (ramen and trail mix), the occasional splurge on French fries, keeping me dry, keeping me safe from bears, and any gear replacement that I may need (most likely trail runners). In return I would like to keep you informed. I can again do this
through social media. However I could also send you letters, Facetime with you from the top of an outlook, and/or even create a blog if any of you are interested in that.

(White-tailed deer on trail. SNP, VA, 2017)

I recently finished the 100-mile wilderness of Shenandoah National Park in 8 days. I kept a journal everyday, which I would happily share with you. On my adventure I saw 4 black bears, a rattlesnake, and got within 10 feet of a white tailed deer who oddly enough seemed pretty unphased by me. After experiencing Shenandoah and all of its beauty I realized that I had to go back and do the entire thing! I just graduated this May from IUPUI and I decided that before I move on in my career goals, I want to do something not only for myself but also for anyone who has a dream that they have been hesitant to go after. Especially the women and girls in my life, I want to show you that you can do anything, even hike nearly 2,200 miles.  Anything that you can give will be greatly appreciated, if we exceed the goal I will use that money to give trail magic (Trail magic is as an unexpected act of kindness) in the form of
food, water, or gear in AT hiker boxes found all along the trail. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Thank you in advance and if you cant donate, sharing this post would also be appreciated :)

-Audrey Smiddy

(Mary's Rock. SNP, VA, 2017)

Resources for further knowledge about our journey:

10 Facts about the Trail You Should Know

7 Reasons Why to Hike the Appalachian Trail

7 Reasons Thru-Hikes Fail (What We DON'T want ;))
+ Read More

$557 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 14 people in 8 months
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