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The life of a thru hiker

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Exactly one year ago today, I set out on the most epic adventure of my life: completing a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.

So hooked was I on the experience that a month or two later, I was back on the dirt. This time, some fellow veterans I hiked the Palmetto Trail across South Carolina.

Make that: we tried to hike the Palmetto Trail. Much of the trail had suffered extensive damage due to the recent hurricane. Despite a few setbacks we managed to make our way from the coast into the upstate foothills. For the better part of the winter we hiked into the Smokies and several sections of the AT via the Benton Mackaye trail.

Being back on the AT felt like home to me.

I daydreamed about a triple crown hike for basically the entire time I hiked the Appalachian Trail. It’s the coveted claim to glory for all dedicated long distance thru hikers. The triple crown entails completing three of the most well known trails over 2,000 miles long: the AT, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails.

I was thrilled to hear that a few members of my adopted trail family had a Pacific Crest hike in the works for this year. I plan to join them. This spring, I’m regrouping, focusing, and setting my sights on the PCT and the CDT,

In the mean time, I’d like to give back to the trail that’s inspired me by doing some trail maintenance with a SWEAT crew. If I found a way to earn a living by hiking, I’d be truly happy.

the life of a thru hiker sunset
Certainly the future holds many more spectacular mountain top views, such as this Maine sunset in the fall of 2016.

I also aim to expand opportunities for Trail Vets, the group I formed this past year that encourages veterans to experience wilderness therapy in the form of hiking and exploration. I intend to grow the group and eventually provide basic gear for those that need it. We post the details of each trip to our Facebook group page, TrailVets.

the life of a thru hiker woods
Trail Vets on the Swamp Fox passage of the Palmetto Trail

As the 2017 hiking season gets into full swing, I’m grateful to have goals, my health, and my love for the trail.

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