About the Author, Kristin Forster: “I’m Kristin and live up north in Hamburg, Germany as a flatlander. Working as a pastry chef, hiking with my dad. Loving sweets, well, food in general…whatever it is…mountains and spending time with my family. And all those things I combine in hiking. Eating, walking, spending time with family, and soon hopefully tramily. Getting ready to hike the Appalachian Trail. Of course, not without my dad.” You can find her on Instagram @kleinerartist.

It wasn’t always easy to get everything set up for our upcoming adventure.

My dad is 56 and has this kind of: “I am a wise man and knows what’s best” attitude. And I am 27 and have this kind of: “be wild and free” attitude. Both aren’t wrong. But it sometimes made it harder to figure things out. Not always though.

As soon as we knew we would hike the AT together, we had to find a date when to start. We knew we wanted to hike the Approach Trail. We knew we wanted to start around March, but couldn’t decide whether to start after the ATKICKOFF or even a little later into the month. After a quick talk about it we decided to start later, it just worked out for the both of us because of different personal reasons and work.

After getting our visa appointment at the U.S embassy in Berlin, we had to get loads of paperwork done. They wanted us to have so many things with us, that was crazy. I didn’t sleep good for 3 weeks straight because I thought I might forget something or worst case scenario, they would decline the visa.

The day of our appointment came. We woke up early that morning, my dad wasn’t feeling so well. I shuffled him into my Nissan Micra with a wool blanket and some tea and drove 3.5 hours on the German autobahn to Berlin… I was driving pretty fast and we made it just in time. I was super nervous but happy the day was finally there. We were the first in line and the first who had the interview with the accountant. Everyone was super nice. After they asked us what we are doing abroad and how we are related the lady just said, that she wondered if someone would apply for a visa today to hike the AT next year and that our visa is approved, and it will probably be in the mail in 5-7 days. That was it.

Chatting with Britta and Jim

We stumbled out of the embassy. Happy, relieved and speechless that It took us 2kg of paperwork they did not want to see, 7 hours of driving and $400 to be in there for 7 minutes. Well at least it got approved. That was all that mattered that day. We drove right back to Hamburg and booked our flights to Atlanta. Now it’s on, we are definitely flying out and will attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Getting our gear wasn’t that hard. It was just exhausting for me to argue with my dad what’s the best for me. I know he knows what gear he wants. But he would have to let me get what I think is the best for me. Because even if we hike together, we do hike our own hike. He is more the: “I like to get this kind of gear, no matter how much it cost” guy. I am more the “I do a lot of research and find good quality gear that is on sale” girl. I do like my dad’s tent a lot, but I don’t want to spend $800 for a tent that I can’t afford. And I think my tent, that my dad gifted me for $340 is also a great fit and will make a great home for the next 5-6 months and further on. The gear situation got better though over time and we were more and more on the same page. I met Britta and Jim who are on the trail already, and who I will introduce a little on my next post. They helped me and my dad find some gear and were and are just amazing people. My dad definitely gained some confidence and we trusted each other more on gear choices.

A lot of websites to do research for the Appalachian Trail are in English. My dad’s English is good, but there is still the language barrier that I don’t have. So, it was much easier for me to research on specific things.

I did map out our first 30 days based on our hiking experiences and daily mileage in Sweden. If you take a look, you might find it a lot of mileage at the beginning, but it’s just 30 days. And we won’t go strictly by that plan. We do have to pick up mileage a bit faster than others might though, cause we only have 6 months in the country due to our visa.

Left: figuring out our first 30 days. Right: fixing trail maps for the family

I ordered the guide we needed, maps for our family to mark where we are at right now, I found a lovely trail angel family who are willing to pick us up from the airport in Atlanta, host us for one night and drive us up to the visitor center at Amicalola Falls State Park. I booked our hotel room at the lodge, ordered a bunch of stuff that I was able to send to our trail angel family to save time and money, and planned out a bunch of resupply places where our family and friends could send us packages from Germany.

The sending is not that hard. But the: when to send it and how long they will hold it and to kinda guess our ETA, is the hardest part.

Left: preparing resupply tags. Right: matching up our hygiene products and first aid kits

All this would have been more fun doing together. But it’s not that easy to find time to sit together and do regularly research and planning together, if you live different lives at different places, even if we only live like 40 minutes apart. So, we did do a lot over the phone, I kept my dad updated on what I’ve found, booked and finished. We discussed gear reviews, food preparation, what to buy and send ahead.

It was frustrating. I would have liked to have this father-daughter research time. A lot. Prepare for our hike together. So, I am happy and hopeful that It will change on the AT. That we will have time to do those things together. And adapt things from one another. Maybe my dad will get a little bit of my wild and free, and I will get a little bit of his wisdom. With 4 days left at home with our loved ones, we get really nervous and excited. Anxious and pumped. But we are ready. Ready to start into an unknown adventure. Together.