My name is Sydney Reichert and on March 18th, 2019, I will begin my thru-hike of the 2,190 miles on the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. This is a promise to myself that I will give 110% effort to summit Mount Katahdin (and, read this Mom & Dad, to leave the trail safely). I am 23 years old and have loved hiking and the outdoors for the majority of my life, though I have limited backpacking experience. This journey will surely be full of highs and lows and I am expecting days on end out in the cold and rain to test my will and endurance, but I am up for the challenge! This blog will recount my experiences pre-trail, on-trail and possibly post-trail mostly for my own recollection. That said, I hope you follow along 🙂
I graduated college in 2017 and, after a bit of traveling through South East Asia with a couple friends, went straight to a corporate full-time job like many of my classmates. At work I learned a ton, developed professionally and personally, and had many great experiences, but after about 14 months I started feeling disconnected from my day-to-day and desired a change. Envisioning myself applying to different jobs or graduate schools didn’t feel like moves in the right direction and surely not moves backed with much certainty. For 2 more months I continued working and living in New York City, very aware that I wanted a change.
In mid-September of last year, I was leaving a doctor’s appointment and out of nowhere the idea of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail popped into my head (I grew up near sections of the AT in New York, was vaguely familiar with the concept of thru-hiking, and when I was a little girl my Dad planted the seed of one day hiking the AT in my head). I thought about this idea for a couple minutes. Walked past my subway station to train home. Thought about the trail for a few more minutes. Missed another train station, lost in thought. Then swiftly walked the 7 miles back to my apartment, the entire time thinking about how I was going to make this happen and making a list of the reasons I want to thru-hike the AT in my phone. Before arriving to my apartment, I stopped in a paper store and bought a 2019 planner (which is now full of Appalachian Trail notes). I was going to make this happen in 2019. I’m young, don’t own a house, no pets, no relationship, could benefit from some time to think about my future – when would be a better time than now? It felt as if the moment the idea to thru-hike popped into my head, I had already decided I was going to make it happen.
Personally committing to myself to make this happen was the first step.
Second step was telling my parents I wanted to leave my job and take time to thru-hike the AT, while figuring out what comes next. (Thank you for continuing to be fully open-minded and supportive).
After that came many questions. How do I quit my job? How do I tell my roommate? What about our apartment lease? Where will I store my car? When will I start my thru-hike? How will I get to the trail? The list went on.
2 months later I was having my exit interview at work and packed up to move to South Carolina, where I am now living, working a part-time job and preparing for the trail.
I am incredibly grateful for my support team in all aspects of this transition: My parents for supporting me from the day I told them and helping me think through logistics of this transition to even make this thru-hike possible. My wonderful former roommate (and still awesome friend), Hannah, who was incredibly understanding and supportive in my move and finding someone to sublet. Everyone at work who I got to know during my 18 months; thanks for making my departure as seamless as possible. Last, thanks to all of the wonderful friends and people I have met throughout the planning process for your backpacking advice, used gear, dehydrated meal recipes, playlists, and support!
Time has flown by since I made this commitment to myself back in September. In 42 days I will step onto the Appalachian Trail, hopefully not stopping until I reach Mount Katahdin in Maine. What comes after the trail is undecided, but now I am focused on getting the most out of this experience and accomplishing my goal! I would love for you to follow my journey…