How to Start Your Appalachian Trail Walk

I’ve walked the Appalachian Trail twice, plus another 2,000 miles working as an Appalachian Trail Conservancy ridgerunner for seven seasons.. How did I start all this? By locating the nearest trailhead to my home and setting foot on the trail. That one hour greeting let me hear my call to the trail “If I just keep walking, I can get all the way to Maine!”

Next step: a half day walk with my husband, exchanging the car key in the middle as we walked in opposite directions. Over the next four years, we built up to a full month on the trail, two trips per year, from over night to three nights, a week, two weeks. There are landmark steps, I think:

  • Connect to the trail.
  • Stay out overnight.
  • Do a resupply and go out again.
  • Walk 100 miles.

I would focus on training on the trail, itself. What I discovered by talking with thousands of hikers is that those who have a connection with their Inner Journey more than the physical athletic accomplishment of the trail feel fulfilled by their walks. In addition, those having a true connection and an enjoyment of Nature seem happier and more fulfilled.

So much to talk about! Oh! One thing that makes a big difference is having a method for easily climbing mountains – a breathing technique. Contrary to a familiar saying, which I will not repeat here – “Virginia is not flat!”

Here’s the method I came up with:

forgivenesswalks.com/reginameetsmountains

How Much Food for Vegan Hiking?

In response to the question “I’m vegan. What food do I take hiking?”

I sprout mung beans and lentils on trail. Hummus, olive oil, sweet potatoes, corn mush, maple syrup. Did I mention olive oil – most calorie dense food? I was soooo afraid of being hungry and not getting enough calories when I started my thru! My first week southbound from Katahdin, I carried 13 lbs of vegan food for my 10 days to Monson. I had several pounds left!!! What I’ve discovered in my 15 yrs and 10,000+miles of walking is that food can be lightweight, easy, tasty and nutritious. When I count the calories of my day, feeling energetic and satisfied, its more like 2,000 calories. I haven’t consumed 5,000 calories ever! Maybe I don’t hike as hard? Dont know, but the advice that I’ll need 5,000 calories a day (hmm. used to be 3,000) doesnt seem to be real for me. I enjoy fresh foods and have my favorite dehydrated staples to build meals around. I eat pretty much the same foods on trail as I do off trail. Happy to explore this with you!

  1. For detailed video instruction on my favorite trail foods, check out Fabulous Foods For Backpacking.

The Magic Post

First published June 27, 2013

This seems perfectly relevant for today as well! Using words to reframe my limiting beliefs!

I’m wishing for magic.
I’m wishing for business magic.
I’m wishing for successful business magic.
I’m wishing for profitable successful business magic.
I’m wishing for profitable successful business strategy magic.
I’m wishing for profitable successful business strategy planning magic.
I’m wishing for instantaneous¬† profitable successful business strategy planning magic.
I’m wishing for instantaneous technically simple profitable successful business strategy planning magic.
I’m wishing for instantaneous technically simple profitable successful automated business strategy planning magic.

Instantaneous? Within one month working one hour per day offline and five hours weekly online.
Technically simple? By smartphone with one 5-hour internet session per week.
Profitable? $1400 in sales per month.
Successful? Reliable for 12 months.
Automated? What gets set up works automatically without being worked on every day.
Strategy? Using content and skills I already have.
Planning? I know what to do each day for my one hour and for my 5-hour internet session.
Magic? This could actually work even though it seems preposterous.

That’s my wish.

That’s my request of the amazing, unlimited, creative Universe.

I’m wishing for requesting magic.
I’m wishing for requesting business magic.
I’m wishing for requesting successful business magic.
I’m wishing for requesting profitable successful business magic.
I’m wishing for requesting profitable successful business strategy magic.
I’m wishing for requesting profitable successful business strategy planning magic.
I’m wishing for requesting instantaneous¬† profitable successful business strategy planning magic.
I’m wishing for requesting instantaneous technically simple profitable successful business strategy planning magic.
I’m wishing for requesting instantaneous technically simple profitable successful automated business strategy planning magic.

Next, I will write every day what this looks like, and express my gratitude for already having received it. I will do a Radical Manifestation worksheet every day and let Spirit work in me.

Sunrise Steps


Damariscotta, Maine.
June 8, 2020
I see it! I open my heart and mind to the metaphor offered. A new day’s light beams through the trees in the sky and in the world and time I am in…
The light calls me to see my own path in creating racial justice, to see the true history of the horrendous enslavement of black people, the disingenuous “freeing” of black people, and the disgusting and conniving suppression of black people as you courageously fought and must still fight for your full humanity to be respected in my white world. I HAVE been blind and tolerant of the deep and orchestrated systemic racial discrimination in the US, assuming that it has been enough for me to be kind to the black people I meet and know personally. I now see that I can DO more. Today, I let the Light reveal that path for my best way.
Thanks to Clara Martin for revealing a step I could take today on a path toward racial healing. I registered for a training tomorrow offered by the DC Peace Team. Non-Violent Communication. One step. https://dcpeaceteam.com/

There Are Bears on the AT!

My 10,000 miles of walking after the age of 52 have helped me see is that detractors are reflecting in me something that I have not yet fully processed myself because I truly lack an answer from experience. Their questions and doubts invite me to do my research, look at what I really am unsure about, and yes, how the questions reveal that they care about me. What ARE the realities about bears? (they do live in the AT corridor and have been disturbingly impacted by hikers’ ineptness at food storage). What ARE the risks and dangers we take when walking solo and what precautions ARE we taking? I now know that those can be known, articulated, and practiced. As a ridgerunner in VA for seven seasons, I would have loved to have seen more of the thousands of hikers I met be more concerned about respecting the needs of bears and be more knowledgable about the unique challenges of trail life and willing to choose behaviors that support community and stewardship of the resource.

Getting Started on the Appalachian Trail

“I think I want to do a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. How should I prepare for that?”

Here’s my answer:

Go out for a day, then a night, then three or four nights. Go out for short walks in all four seasons to test your gear. One landmark in preparation is to go out long enough to have a resupply or maildrop, say 8-10 days. With the experience of finishing a 3-5 day section, taking a townstop, then going back out, you’ll have the basic idea of a long distance walk, which is really a long string of 4-day walks without going home in between! That’s the best part of long distance journeys. Resupply, rest, cleaning up and going back out!!

After 10,000 miles of long-distance walking, I’ve realized that creating a fulfilling walk relies on addressing 5 essential areas:

  • Know your trail,
  • Consider your timing,
  • Love your gear,
  • Magnetize your support network, and
  • Nourish your Inner Journey with specific
  • Bonus: Above all, know your “why” for choosing the AT.

Read my complimentary report:

Love Your Gear: Toiletries

Here is my backpacking toiletries list:

Hotel bar soap, tiny sponge, lidded bowl for taking wash water to my tent; lip balm; .5oz teatree oil (or eucalyptus or peppermint); tiny tube of general salve; travel toothbrush; sometimes a tablespoon of baking soda for tooth powder + deoderant; large bandaids that can be cut to size; roll of stretchy gauze; dental floss for teeth and thread; comb.

This is one category where the moniker, “If I don’t have it, I don’t need it” is useful. Going without something for a few days helps me clarify what I want vs what I need.

I want to love everything I carry! 3rd of my 5 essentials is “Love my gear”!