(1) Where are you from and how would you like to be identified?
Saint Augustine, FL
Trail Name: Murphy
(2) Thinking back to your “day-1 self,” what is going through your mind at the start?
I am so excited to be here! I have hiked the desert section before, so it is not new territory for me. I know that once I take those first steps, I will be hiking for a long time. I imagine the dirt path connecting me from Mexico to Canada and it makes me smile.
(3) Do you feel ready?
I feel ready for this journey. I feel strong physically and mentally. I've had experience on long trails and I feel prepared. The trail will always throw unexpected things at you, but it teaches you how to adapt and problem solve. In order to be a successful long distance hiker, you usually need to have a unique combination of stubbornness and flexibility.
(4) What are you most afraid of?
My biggest fear is being cold. I am very sensitive to the cold and my fingers and toes go numb so easily! Most people are afraid of being lost, rattlesnakes, bears, mountain lions, running out of water in the desert, etc. None of those things concern me as much as being cold and wet. They say you pack your fears and in my backpack you will find a 10 degree sleeping bag, gloves, a hat, and lots of layers! My other concern is that my ankle will give out on me. I have had five ankle surgeries and no one has been able to fix it. I know I will not quit unless I absolutely cannot walk and I hope it doesn't come to that.
(5) What were you most confident about?
Standing at the southern terminus, I knew I had the mental toughness to reach Canada. On a hike this long, there are so many things that can take you off the trail. I never assume I will make it because there is always the possibility of injury, bad weather, family situations, etc. So many things that are out of your control can happen on a 2,700 mile hike. But I knew that if none of those things caused me to leave the trail, that I had the mentality to go all the way.
(6) Does anybody not want you to go?
My friends and family have been very supportive. Some of them have some concerns, but they know that I am passionate about the outdoors, and that I will do my best to make good decisions. I have hiked a lot of miles in the past few years, so I think for this trail, it is not as big of a deal. It was very expected!
(7) What made you decide to take this hike?
(8) What do you expect to get from it?
I think we often set out on these journeys expecting to have an epiphany or receive all the answers to life's pressing questions. But in my experience, that is not what happens. Although that would be nice, what I actually get out of a long hike is so much better. What I really want from this hike is to enjoy creation and meet amazing people. There is something about living outside for five months that gives you a sense of peace and happiness. I like feeling both strong and humbled as I stand on a mountaintop. I like watching the seasons change, up close and personal. I want to walk into National Parks through the "back door" as a friend instead of taking the road in as a guest. I want to wake up not knowing where I am going to sleep that night and be perfectly fine with that. I want to learn to read the clouds and identify birds by their songs. I want to make lifelong friends that I can call in 20 years and reminisce about all our fun (and tough) times on trail. I want to rely on strangers to get into town because there is nothing like a long hike to restore your faith in humanity. I want to feel alive. When I set foot on trail I feel like I'm at home. And I can't ask for much more than that.
(9) Have you ever done anything like this before?
Yes. I have hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Continental Divide Trail, The Colorado Trail, and 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. This is my final trail to complete the Triple Crown and I am so excited for this journey!
(10) What have you done to prepare?
I have researched trail towns, resupply options, weather windows, etc. I have been running, hiking, and lifting weights so that the start isn't too painful!
(11) What are you looking forward to the most?
This trail is full of amazing places! I can't wait to see these stunning views! I think I am most excited for the Sierra section. But I have also heard incredible things about Washington. I am also looking forward to meeting people along the way.
(12) When/where did you leave the trail? I had continuous footsteps from Mexico to Canada.