Solo Thru-Hike the AT!

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One of HTO’s own Outfitters, Neha Khurana, from Fairfax is starting her solo thru-hike of the AT on April 1! She began as the youngest employee in the company and shares our enthusiasm and passion for adventure and travel. Neha tries to get outside as much as she can and loves to hike, rock climb, and kayak. As a frequent world traveler, she will soon be majoring in Adventure Education.

Neha became entranced by the idea of thru-hiking when she read an article about the Appalachian Trail a couple years ago.

“I loved the idea of completely immersing myself in nature and living authentically. I didn’t want to put off such a valuable opportunity, so I decided to graduate school early and hike northbound this year.”

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This young lady is heading places and we are so proud to have her be a part of the HTO family! And did we mention she is just 17 years old?! Impressive!

What are you doing this summer? Ever wondered what it would be like to hike the Appalachian Trail alone? Here’s top 6 reasons why you should do it, as said by Zach Davis at AppalachianTrials.com:

1. Absolute Freedom

If you hike the trail by yourself, no one will be breathing down your neck. You will be able to escape and truly be free. I remember feeling so happy and free only to turn my phone on and have it blow up with messages from my parents asking me where I was and if I was okay. Although I knew they sent those messages out of love, it was nice to have my phone off and live without people on my case all the time. I couldn’t even imagine how awful the trail would’ve been if someone I started hiking with depended on me and had to always know where I was.

2. No one wanted to do it with me

Would I have started the trail with a friend if he or she wanted to hike with me? Definitely. However, in my case, no one I knew wanted to hike with me and I didn’t even try to find someone to thru-hike with.

3. I only had take care of myself

Trust me, on the trail this is a very difficult task. Thankfully, no one else on the trail depended on me to keep them alive. Looking out for myself was a big enough task, but if your hike is anything like mine, you’ll meet people who you want to watch out for and vice versa.

4. I made friends anyway

It’s very easy to meet incredible people on the trail. It was nice for me to have friends on the trail that were separate from my friends in “real life.” I think if I started out with “real life” friends, I would not have tried as hard to create relationships with other hikers.

5. I do what I want

The Appalachian Trail taught me that I can wake up every morning and do whatever I want to do. This is something that has stuck with my way past my thru-hike. Every morning when I wake up, I do what I want to do. Most of what I want to do is what I know will make me happy. With this philosophy I have picked up from the trail, I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.  If I were hiking with a group for the majority of my hike, I might not have developed such a significant lifestyle change.

6. Greater sense of accomplishment

I believe my summit of Katahdin was very different in significance than those hiking in a group for the whole trail. Although I did hike with other people along the way, I finished the trail exactly how I started it; alone and on my own terms. If I had hiked the trail entirely with someone else, or a group, I feel like my sense of achievement on Katahdin would be different. A lot of times on the trail, I had no one to help me through the hardest parts and had to overcome adversity on my own. I get that sharing achievements is a wonderful thing; however, I’m glad I got through the majority of trail because of my own abilities and not having to rely on others.

We will be keeping tabs on Neha’s progress this summer, so stay tuned for more updates! She will be back at our Fairfax store in September, so she will be a great resource for all future Appalachian Trail travelers. We wish her all the best!

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