When I went public with my plans to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2015, I immediately realized how unprepared I was to handle all the questions, warnings, ‘advice’, and material items I received in regards to my hike.
I begin another, lengthier thru-hike Jan 1, 2022 of the American Discovery Trail and upon my announcement, memories of the repercussions came flooding back. In this article I will explore the psychology behind these things, why it happens, and how you can use your reactions as a powerful tool to educate and connect others.
By the time I’d finished my thru-hike not only was I able to answer every question you had for me before you even asked, but I could answer them in the order in which you’d ask, depending on whether you were male or female. I had hundreds of these encounters to use as the basis of my data. It shocked me, really. A few of the questions you can expect: How long will it take you? Are you bringing a gun? How do you carry all your food? Where will you sleep? Are you doing this alone? What do you do when it rains? Will you be taking a dog?
A lot of things were the same with everyone in the sense that their questions and concerns were more protection or danger-laden. No matter how many times I was asked how much my pack would weigh or what kind of footwear I’d use, I knew that everyone really just wanted to know about the dark, negative, dangerous side, which brings me to something I have been doing some research on for my own improvements.
Back in late 2014, the first thing I was usually asked when telling people of my plan may have also been the only thing they had ever heard of the Appalachian Trail. They’d squint their eyes and look at me over the top of their bifocals, leaning in slowly and meaningfully. It was as if they knew that surely something bad would happen to me and this was their warning.
“Did you know a woman went missing there a while back?”
I was well aware that Geraldine Largay, an Appalachian Trail …….