I’ve been asked this a lot.
There’s a bunch about thru-hiking I am worried/cautious about, but I think that’s different than being scared. I’m worried about running low on water, but not scared. I’m worried about being cold at night, but not scared. I’m worried about running into a bear with cubs, but that’s more exciting than scary. Sitting in a house right now, with the fridge 20 feet away, a water faucet right next to it and my comfy bed downstairs, it’s hard to know what about thru-hiking truly scares me. No doubt, come game time, this could change.
I’ve had a handful of surprisingly vivid nightmares about the AT (some have been ridiculous like everything I eat tasting like peanut butter and not being able to tie my boots), so for now I am deeming the more realistic nightmares the things I am most scared of. Here they are:
- Getting stuck in a lightening storm. Even though I probably have a greater chance of getting hit by a car than getting struck by lightening, this still freaks me out.
- All of my gear getting ripped to shreds by raccoons while I’m sleeping. Honest nightmare, very unlikely to happen.
- Mount Washington. By the time I get there I’m sure I will feel fine, but I’ve heard lots of stories and been warned of the weather dangers, so right now it feels very daunting. Plus, in my nightmare I fell off the side of the mountain…one of those kick yourself awake situations.
- Someone stealing my pack. Probably just the cynical New Yorker in me.
- Getting injured or getting sick. That would suck. Leaving the trail, if really necessary, would hopefully be on my own terms or for weather safety reasons.
- Feeling so lonely that I can’t enjoy the trail. In this nightmare no matter how quickly I hiked, I could never catch up to the hikers in front of me. Though I hope to have some personal reflection time, the goal isn’t to spend 6 months alone. Meeting people on the trail and having visitors will surely be highlights and some of my best memories.
Here’s to overcoming worries and to nightmares remaining nightmares.