About the Author: “Hello, my name is Abby Washburn, and later this year in April my mom and I will be starting on the Appalachian Trail. I enjoy reading, being outdoors, swimming, writing, and baking. I am fifteen years old and I will be hiking after my high school career is over. My favorite two classes are Spanish and English, and my favorite color is purple.”

February 1

Today is the first day of February; I just had a breakdown. The what-ifs got to me. What if I don’t love the trail? What if I can’t? What I’m not good enough to finish? What if…what if. I was crying and struggling with the facts of maybe not completing the dream I had for the last five-ish years. My mom told me, “WHAT IF you love it? WHAT IF there are no problems? WHAT IF we feel down, and cheer each other up by having a ‘who can be the most stinky’ challenge?”

The what-ifs are terrifying. But, there are things I know that the what-ifs can’t ruin. Like the fact that I have dreamed about this for such a long time, I will meet amazing people, this will be an experience I will never forget, and I have all the support of my friends, teachers, and my family behind me while I take the 5,000,000+ steps from Amicolola Park, Georgia to Baxter State Park in Maine. I also know that God will be on my side, and every skip, step, slog, crawl, cartwheel, and march along the way will bring me one step closer to my goals, one step closer to home. 

Not related to breaking down, but the other day we ordered our sleeping mats, the last final major piece of gear we still needed. We went to L.L. Bean and tried out all the sleeping mats there, until finally we settled on an ultralight Sea to Summit one. That was a good experience. I felt relieved that this gear shopping was out of the way, and I felt this with anticipation that our hike is coming right up. I also felt excitement for the upcoming adventure. I can’t wait, and I know the What-Ifs are going to be shoved in my boots and have to deal with my stinky feet so they will die, even though in the beginning they might make my feet hurt.