When I told my sister that Jonathan and I had decided to attempt a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail for our honeymoon, she was bewildered. “You two will either be together forever, or divorced in a few months,” she predicted. Plenty of friends and family have since had similar reactions and I get it. Most people, myself included, picture a honeymoon with first class accommodations and cocktails on the beach. Instead, we’ve opted to spend about five months hiking 2200 miles, sleeping in tents, and eating dehydrated meals. Sexy? Nope. Luxurious? Abso-frickin-lutely not.
In most physical undertakings, it’s important to know your “Why.” Why are you competing in that triathlon? Why are you climbing Mount Everest? A reminder of why you set the goal in the first place can help get you through the roughest days. So, why am I hiking the Appalachian Trail and why on earth would I agree to a thru-hiking honeymoon?
Here’s the thing, I love a long walk. Before I met Jonathan, I went to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and spent two weeks trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal (still my favorite trip to date). But the Appalachian Trail was never at the top of my to do list. As much as I enjoy backpacking, I thought that if I was going to take that much time off of work, I would spend it country hopping in Europe.
Then, I went on a blind date with Jonathan. Over cocktails, he mentioned his Appalachian aspirations and suddenly, it sounded like a dream. Within a few months of meeting, we were planning a life together and mapping out a thru hike. We knew it should be done before starting a family, but I still hadn’t pictured the northbound newlywed scenario.
After Jonathan proposed atop Cadillac Mountain, we decided to keep our anniversary the same as the day we met and set a wedding date of March 2nd, 2020. Neither of us wanted to raise a family in Brooklyn, so while we were gainfully employed, we bought a home near my family in Pennsylvania and got tenants to pay the mortgage until the end of September 2020. Since March is an ideal time to start the AT and we could get out of almost all bills, we decided this was the perfect opportunity to quit our jobs and move out of New York. We registered to start our northbound thru-hike on March, 9, one week post nuptials.
Over the last two years, we saved and prepared for the multiple major life changes headed our way. Jonathan spent countless hours researching gear, dehydrating meals and planning supply boxes. We made tight budgets and took extra work every chance we could. All of this preparation meant we didn’t get to spend much time together.
Initially, the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail didn’t feel like much of a honeymoon. Now, I’m so thrilled to spend every minute of every day with my new husband, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our marriage. As we head north and the days get harder, I know that as long as we are together, I’ll have no problem remembering my “Why.”