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Only 20% of the people that attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail actually finish.
Okay. I’ve been reading these stats for nearly 2 years, but let’s face it, I’m a lawyer, so I immediately assume that I fall within that 20%. I’ll crawl to Mt. Katahdin if I have to, but I’m going to finish.

Before the trip started, I just couldn’t understand why so many people quit. Injuries and illnesses are legitimate reasons, and knock on wood, our injuries and illnesses throughout the next 5 months are not so serious as to take us out of the game. But injuries aside, what makes people quit?

Fast forward to yesterday. Yesterday we had our first 12-mile day. Our clothes were soaking wet from the minute we put them on because it’s been raining NON-STOP since we got here. Our packs are too heavy–soaking wet, with 3L of water each and week’s supply of food, weigh in around 40 lbs. None of us had time to train before the trip, and if that wasn’t enough, 60% of that 12-mile hike was uphill.

As the day went on, the rain only got worse. The trail was a mud river. The rain came in from all different angles, and eventually turned into a full-blown lightening/hail storm. Due to the fact that the nearest town was not within hiking distance, and we were on a mountain ridge with lightening less than a mile away, the day ended with us sleeping in a shelter (3 walls and a roof) with 2 old dudes decked out in camouflage gear, a dog, and a lot of hungry mice.

If this trip started with sunshine and we hit a day like this for the first time in week 2…it would all be over by week 3.

But instead God decided to hit us with a curve ball from Day 1. And while our first 12-mile day was by no means easy, it’s mine. And I did it. And I get to share that memory with Brandon, Emily, Jason, 2 old dudes, and a dog, for the rest of my life.

In 2010, Kate “Ringleader” Imp thru-hiked the A.T. with her brother Brandon “Monkey” Imp and best friend Emily “Lightning” Ginger. Together the members of the “Traveling Circus” captured the peaks and valleys of trail life in a documentary called Beauty Beneath the Dirt. You can check out the film ( as well as their blog) at www.beautybeneaththedirt.com.

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