About the Author, Amy Banuelos: “Hi friends! I’m Amy…an outdoorsy, yet prissy, ice cream addicted, fitness obsessed, adventure seeker. This April, my boyfriend John and I will be attempting a NOBO thru hike on the AT. We are documenting everything from start to finish on our YouTube channel and we’d love for you to tag along!”

So, why the Appalachian Trail? Well, an ex-boyfriend first told me about the AT several years ago. He was a veteran suffering from psychological issues after returning from the war in Iraq. He heard thru hiking, or simply spending time outdoors, was becoming a popular form of therapy for vets. I thought that was great and all but honestly, who would want to live in the woods day after day after day? No electricity, no running water, no television, no toilet…just bugs, wild animals, weird people and your stench. Yeah, I’d rather not.

Left: Weekend trip to Max Patch. Right: Overnight trip at Uwharrie National Forest.

Fast forward to 2016, John and I were backpacking every chance we had. I started researching trails and low and behold, there it was, the Appalachian Trail. I was hooked, completely infatuated with the idea of thru hiking the trail. I read a countless number of books about people’s experiences, bought AWOL’s guide book and even told my friends, family and coworkers about this magical hike. I also did my best to convince John that thru hiking from Georgia to Maine would be the wildest adventure of our lives. Needless to say, I was not very persuasive. He would entertain my dream for a bit, but then crush it a few days later. We couldn’t just quit our jobs and hike for six months. Was I crazy? So, I gave up…well, I gave up trying to convince him. I still thought about it from time to time knowing that somehow, someway, someday, I was going to thru hike the Appalachian Trail.

Left: John and me at Uwharrie National Forest. Right: Cooking on top of Springer Mountain.

And here we are, that someday is right around the corner. John finally came to his senses and in a couple of months, we will be stepping out on the trail to hike over 2,000 miles to Maine. It’s been pretty stressful, planning and organizing how we will live outdoors for several months. Researching and testing gear can be exhausting, not to mention it’s a huge blow to the bank account. I also feel selfish and guilty because I’m asking a lot of my family and employer. Yeah, let me go walk in the woods for several months and you guys take care of everything until I come back. Yikes, that’s tough.

Fortunately, most have been very supportive of our decision. I am eternally grateful to my parents for moving their entire lives across the country to take care of our house and pup, Bella. My employer has been beyond amazing and accommodating, ensuring that I will have a job to return to. John will as well. So, besides the chaos that comes along with preparing for a long-distance hike, I am so thrilled to take on the challenge. Never give up on your dreams.

Left: Overnight at Uwharrie National Forest. Right: Misty morning on the approach trail.