If you’re reading this, you probably already know me! We might have gone to high school or college together, played music in the same ensemble, or I might even be your music teacher. You may also know that this spring, I will start my lifelong dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine.
Anyone who knows me hasn’t been surprised in the slightest by this (seemingly crazy) decision. It is something that I’ve craved since college, when I moved from my hometown in quiet, upstate New York to the bustling city of Boston. I tried to substitute weekends playing Appalachian fiddle tunes with my friends for trying to learn jazz and struggling through Bach. I made the arduous decision of trading paddling trips in the serene Adirondack backcountry for the noisy city. The Appalachian Trail became a day dream that I could visit when I wanted to return to my sense of self. I would spend my evenings practicing and performing, then I would run home to read and reread the books that helped me escape: Woodswoman, Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, and Wild, to name a few. These days made me realize how unfulfilled I found city life and how much I needed to be outdoors.
As a kid, I spent weeks of every summer camping in the Adirondacks with my dad, mom, older sibling, and dogs. We did everything from car camping close to home in Luzerne and Lake Durant; to canoe camping and camping on islands in Indian Lake. My brave parents actually took me on my first camping trip at 6 weeks old. One of the most memorable trips to Indian Lake included a violent thunderstorm and a bolt of lightning that struck the outhouse and a few trees! The outhouse completely exploded and shards of wood were tossed about the island. My mother was horrified by this but I felt electrified. This near death experience made me appreciate the power, and danger, of nature.
When I got older, my sibling Alison and I would stray further from the campsites; we would build forts, paddle to other islands to hunt for quartz or blueberries, and we challenged ourselves to map the lake around us. This thrill for adventure has stuck with me since, and has arguably gotten stronger in reaction to the caution of the COVID pandemic. My friends and I would alternate between paddling trips and hiking trips to explore the farthest reaches of the Adirondack, Green, and White Mountains. My dad provided trip reports from his backpacking days, and we recreated a lot of his adventures. I felt like recreating my dad’s adventures brought me closer to him and my family, and I gained confidence in my abilities to plan, navigate, and survive nature’s challenges.
In 2020, I moved to central Vermont to be closer to the mountains; I spend hours every day cross country skiing, running, hiking, and camping. I’m always training for something – marathons, trail races, FKT’s – and now the Appalachian Trail. Having these huge, crazy goals to work towards gives me purpose and motivation to push myself through obstacles and challenges that I thought were previously insurmountable.
My dream of the Appalachian Trail was hatched after I hiked the Northville-Placid Trail in the winter/spring of 2020. I got to experience the beauty of winter folding into spring; after squalls on the first day, the snow stopped and the forest slowly started to warm. The rivers and my socks thawed, and the buds on the trees started to bloom. I knew that I wanted to see this on a larger scale, and spend a full six months and multiple seasons in the woods. This is one of the aspects of hiking the Appalachian Trail that I am most looking forward to; I want to watch the southern rhododendrons bloom and find the periwinkle chicory flowers that I have tattooed on my arm. I’m excited to see how I change on the trail, but I’m really inspired by how the trail will change while I hike it.
I am writing this blog for a few folks in particular. First, my Aunt Chrissey and Uncle Chris;they are true Adirondack homesteaders who think I’m crazy, but appreciate the stories of my latest hike, run, or paddle. Secondly, I am writing to keep all of my students updated and stay connected to my community in Vermont. Finally, I am writing for all my sweet friends, who are ready to answer the phone whenever I get into town and want to chat. I would include my immediate family in this list, but honestly, they’ll be stalking my Garmin, texting me daily, and planning many road trips to come see me. I’m so lucky to have this opportunity, and so glad that I created the space in my life to cross this major item off of my bucket list. See you out there!!
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