The Healing Path: A Through-hiker’s Origin

Ahead of we get started, depart your preconceived notions at the doorway. You will not…

Ahead of we get started, depart your preconceived notions at the doorway. You will not require them exactly where we’re likely.

My name is Austin Hays. I’m 24 a long time previous, nonbinary (they/them pronouns, many thanks), and neurodivergent (a huge term for having a unusual brain). I have dreamt of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail for several years, and occur May, I hope to make it a actuality. Alternatively than a traditional NOBO setting up in Georgia, I’m heading to do a Flip Flop setting up in Harpers Ferry. I have a several explanations for picking this:

  1. It will allow for much more time in hotter temperature and fewer of a rush to complete.
  2. My effect on the trail will be lessened and I’ll steer clear of the biggest crowds.
  3. Harpers Ferry feels like a ideal starting point, because of to both its record with the trail and its history with the abolitionist struggle that continues to this working day.

These next few months will be all about logistics, organizing, and teaching, and I’ll be blogging by it all. But these days, I want to consider a glimpse again at how I bought in this article.

It is been uphill as long as I can keep in mind.

Rising up, I by no means definitely had considerably use for what the world about me preferred me to be. I under no circumstances in good shape into strictly masculine or female roles, even as a kid. I experienced a ton of trouble with socializing and concentrating on duties, and people all around me weren’t constantly comprehension. There were numerous extensive stretches in lifetime in which I felt like I could only have faith in myself. I just cannot in good shape all of the joys, traumas, and daily life-changing times that shaped me in this report, but I can inform you that it all led to the path.

Selfie at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

I always appreciated the mountains and appreciated a superior wander in the woods, but it was not right until faculty that I discovered some thing further. In a time where I wasn’t positive of who I was or what I preferred to do in lifetime, character introduced certainty. It is easier to hear on your own feel when all you can hear is the wind and there is only a single route to just take. The most visceral reminiscences I have consist of me hauling ass up a mountain, sitting down in silence at the summit, then hauling ass back again down. Boy, if only I could make a living carrying out just that!

To the finish of college or university, I started out pursuing the aspiration more challenging. I obtained my diploma (skipping graduation to go rock climbing in West Virginia) then resolved to devote some time soul-browsing. I put in a calendar year in California as component of a company corps and ultimately got the house I desired to mirror on who I was. And, of class, I ran up some hills alongside the way.

Sitting on hill near golden gate bridge

COVID sooner or later stalled my profession path in CA and pressured me to shift back again to South Carolina. It sucked to leave, but the socially-distanced highway excursion household was genuinely entertaining and I understood who I was superior than at any time. I now know 3 points to be totally true:

  1. I am neither male nor feminine, and I really do not care what people today say about it.
  2. My Autism and achievable ADHD, annoying as they can be, are a proud aspect of me.
  3. I am heading to hike the Appalachian Trail, damn it.

Get ready for difficulties (and make it double?)

Every single when in a although, I have to remind myself that this is truly occurring. I’m likely to do this! I’m heading to hike the whole Appalachian Trail! Its hard to reveal the experience of watching a lifelong desire you have experienced be slowly but surely recognized. What is even extra remarkable is realizing I won’t be by yourself on this journey.

I’ve been lucky to satisfy a quantity of other transgender and nonbinary through-hikers that I will cross paths with this calendar year. We even began a Discord server which is escalating to this working day! Collectively, we’ve talked equipment, our encounters with our personal identities, and shared our pleasure. I’m truly optimistic about what the path holds for us, and I’m definitely psyched to inform my story through the Trek.

There is just one particular problem:

Sitting in a wheelchair with broken ankle

In November, I suffered a undesirable ankle fracture although skateboarding and I am nevertheless recovering. When I’m no lengthier in a cast, I’m nevertheless not allowed to bear excess weight on my still left foot nonetheless. This means all of the shakedown hikes I had prepared are efficiently scrapped, and I’ll be heading into the trail a little far more blind. Fortunately, restoration has been likely nicely, and I really should be going for walks without having crutches before long. But when I reported in the title that the AT is heading to be a healing path for me, I intended it practically.

But hey, there is a whole lot to search ahead to!

Between now and May perhaps, I’m likely to retain telling my story. I’ll explain to y’all about what I have been executing to get my ankle back again to complete power. I’ll share my equipment listing and the actions I took to help save revenue and prepare this hike. Hell, maybe I’ll chat extra about becoming queer as hell.

No make a difference what, I hope y’all will adhere all-around for extra. Possibly even learn one thing.

In the meantime, you can stick to me on insta @morninhays and subscribe to me on the Trek to get my posts sent to your inbox. If you are one more trans+ or queer thru-hiker I’d enjoy to chat, and could even include you to our Discord server.

Other than that, I’ll see y’all out on the trail. Just take it uncomplicated.

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