How a control freak mentally prepares for the Appalachian Trail

Two months from today...

...I will be at my Aunt's house in Georgia. I will have flown in to Atlanta in the early afternoon and probably will have eaten and drank too much throughout the evening. At some point, I will get into bed and stare at the ceiling, trying my best to fall asleep, but knowing it would be a long, wakeful night. Did I bring the right gear? Did I bring too much gear? Do I need that weird multi-purpose gadget I decided to leave at home last minute? How long will it take me to get skinny? Not long, I hope. Will I unintentionally eat more spiders in my sleep than the average person? Will I still want to go to medical school when I finish the trail? What if Bella forgets me? It's like Christmas Eve except I'll be happy-excited and anxious-excited at the same time. I will probably play Choose-Your-Own-Adventure one last time: a game I found myself playing every day since I bought that one-way ticket to Georgia. It's my super fun, productive form of mental prep. Let me explain:

Mental preparation

Author's note: I obviously haven't hiked the Appalachian Trail yet, so the effectiveness of this method is not yet established...I'll let you know, though. 

Whenever I have a minute, which happens at least a few dozen times a day, I play this game. I don't like schedule it, but you can do that if you need to. I generally start by imagining some happy adventures and play out all the awesome situations I hope to experience. Like getting to the top of an amazing mountain and finding tons of free Snickers bars. Or carrying a box of wine to camp drinking it with Danielle around a fire after a tough day. Or saving an injured baby bunny who ends up following me for the rest of the trek. I could go on and on. Then I go through some worst-case scenarios and subsequently create plans B, C, D and E for each. For example, imagine we wake up to find a bear lurking around our campsite?!

  • Plan B: The bear realizes I'm super chill and want to be friends. We hug and take a selfie. I share some all-natural snacks. We go our separate ways but never forget each other. 
  • Plan C: A super sexy mountain man intervenes and distracts the bear while Danielle and I book it. 
  • Plan D: I play dead in my tent (this usually works when I'm convinced there's a robber in my house).
  • Plan E: Bear mace and GTFO.

You get the point. With all this mental prep I'm pretty much ready for anything the Appalachian Trail throws at me.  

Knowing that I won't know

In all seriousness, no matter how many scenarios I imagine, I truly have no idea what my Appalachian Trail experience will yield. I have diligently read about other thru-hikers' experiences, relentlessly researched gear, and physically prepared as best I can. But it's a whole new game when I'm actually out in the wilderness. I will learn so much about hiking, camping, the trail, and myself when I'm out there- especially in the first few weeks. I will push every limit I have. Everyone who knows me knows I'm a complete and utter control freak. Not being able to predict what my days will look like and feel like is stressful. Still, I'm excited to let go and experience whatever the trail has in store for me- for better or for worse. 

GoPro practice

On another note, I've been practicing using my GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition. I'm trying to figure out which settings I like, how to conserve battery, and how to edit videos quickly. Today I went on a lovely winter walk at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, MA and played around with my camera. Below are some pictures and a short & sweet video I made. Enjoy!