About the Author, Amy WashburnAmy Washburn is a recent college graduate who has a wonderful husband of 24 years, four amazing children ranging in age from 15 to 21, and a rescued Heinz 57 dog who loves her better than the rest of the humans in the house. We live in a small town in Maine, and enjoy snowmobiling, camping, motorcycle riding and family time.

Editor’s Note: Did you know 15-year-old Abby Washburn is also writing for us? You can see all of Abby’s and Amy’s posts by clicking Amy’s name above.

Months ago, the idea seed of hiking the AT was placed in my mind. Little did I know how it would shape my life. I have spent hours and hours pouring over gear lists and magazines, oohing and ahhing over the cutest and newest stuff. Look how tiny and lightweight and packable, I say to myself. I’ll buy just one while I’m here, I tell myself. Home it comes, into the tub of stuff.

I lay awake at night, wondering how the little things will work out. Having never been a worrier or one to sweat the little things, I gloss over the bug bites on my butt and jump to tearing a ligament or falling down somewhere steep and hard to reach. Will I have to courage to ask for help? Can I reach my phone, and can it reach a signal?

Load my pack. Plenty of room. Food?? Where’s the food? Who needs food? Diapers? No, not the diaper bag (the babies are 15), the hiking backpack. How about toilet paper and a bag to carry it out in? Sleeping clothes? Unload my pack. Load my pack. Find the tub of stuff in the closet – Oh My Goodness! Who bought all this? Where did all the extra room go? Do I really need the hiker’s ultra lite spare dehydrated water collapsible bag? (Just add water, shake, and drink.)

Nesting – cleaning, prepping, shopping for these staying home, planning mail drops and resupply points. Finishing up at the gym, at work, all my volunteer commitments. All these months of excitement – the planning, the gathering, the counting down to the Do Date.

Sixteen years ago the start of a baby – who surprised us all by bringing a sibling along as well – also shaped my life. We already had a 3 and 4 year old. One more baby was expected – but two? Not much oohing and ahhing, but a whole lot of “What were we thinking?” and “These are still good. Child one and two are finished with them, so three and four will make do.”

How tiny and small they were, ten weeks early. 15 days in the NICU. I laid awake nights then, too. What did I do wrong? How can I do right from here on out? How many car seats will my car hold? College???

Moving, unpacking, nesting, watching them all grow into teenagers and young adults. It’s time now. The kids are big, and one is my hiking partner. It is time to birth this hike that has filled my heart, my mind, our home.

Next Week. My hike with Abby starts next week. Our ride leaves tomorrow for Springer. We will have all summer to hike home.