I’m an AT Thru Hiker!

March 19 – August 25, 2017: Springer Mountain, GA – Mt. Katahdin, ME

160 days: 2,190.3 miles

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Munch, Dingo, Rabbit (me), and Velveeta on Mt. Katahdin

On August 25th, I summited Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, achieving my dream of becoming an Appalachian Trail thru hiker. It was one of the best days of my life, and I will vividly remember climbing the mountain and kissing that sign forever. The day was full of triumph, emotion, and sad goodbyes to lifelong friends.

The journey was raw, challenging, rewarding, and most importantly full of joy and camaraderie. I thought having a few days at home to process would help me put the summit into words, but the summit was not a moment;it was the culmination of the 5 months leading up to it. To describe the entire journey is near impossible. Hopefully some day I can put it into words, but for now all I can say it is surreal to be an official thru hiker. The journey was nothing short of extraordinary. I fell in love with the trail and everything about it. (Even the rainy days… maybe.) It will always be a large part of who I am and who I will become.

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My mom and I
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A good view during the boulder scramble up the mountain.
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Above treeline, the trail was all rock. In some sections it required climbing up.
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Saying “goodbye” as my two friends continued on to hike the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) into Canada.
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5 thoughts on “I’m an AT Thru Hiker!

  1. Wow! Congratulations Tess. What an amazing accomplishment. Wish you all the best for continued success. And on behalf of the Miami University Alumni Association, don’t forget to keep in touch. All the best!

  2. I can’t help but be obsessed with this accomplishment. The Miamian sits on my sofa, I glance at it across the room while I sip my hot, half-caff/half-decaf-with-cream, brand-name, indulgent, premium coffee just as a spring stormfront blows through. I am drawn by the cover. Then I look again. Then my eyes start leaking.

    The Class of 2018 graduated yesterday. It’s a time filled with melancholy; its purpose: saying good-byes unsuccessfully stopping the occasional catch in my voice when sending students into the great unknown of “what’s next” and unearthing who they might be “someday”.

    I remember sending you forth with this AT adventure ahead of you. I know I found myself praying for your well being, not only your physical well being -because, well, you said it was going to take a physical toll, but for your spiritual, emotional and intellectual preservation…because you were so perfectly balanced.

    As you remain.
    But better.

    I pray this is the case for today’s graduates. I know you share in those prayers.

    So, “what’s next”?

    1. Hi DC!

      Thanks for the thoughtful note. It was a true honor to be on the cover of the Miamian. I still don’t think I fully grasp the immensity of my hike. Some days it seemed as simple as one foot in front of the other, and other days, the task of hiking from Georgia to Maine seemed overwhelming and near-impossible. Must’ve been either stubbornness, strong will, or an act of God.

      Many days I long to be waking up to the sounds of the woods as I stare out of my car window during my commute to work. As my eyes grow weary of my computer screens, I daydream of climbing up mountains in the rain to be rewarded with a breath-taking view once the storms clear.

      The trail forever altered me, but I believe for the better.
      We’ll see what’s next, but I know I’m destined to walk– or pave– my own path.

      Thank you for the support, both academically and in prayer. You are a blessing to many more than you know.

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