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Booterman’s trek on the AT epitomized the “Hike Your Own Hike” (HYOH) mantra – and for good reason. The victim of a string of difficult situations in high school and college that were out of her control, she found the Appalachian Trail to be a safe, idyllic place where she was finally IN control. Everything was up to Booterman: where she slept and among whom, where she ate, what she carried on her back, what she wore on her back, and on her feet…

Nobody pulled out a map and told her how far she would have to travel, or where she would have to end up each day. If anyone compared their gear to her own, it didn’t mean their grass was greener; it only meant they were wasting their breath. Perhaps the only time on the AT that she let conformity bite her in the ass, she ended up on a terrifying ride with a drunk driver at the wheel. It will never happen again.

What I especially loved about Booterman’s very HYOH adventure was her refusal to let anyone else dictate what time she would roll out of her sleeping bag in the morning and begin her daily trek. A night owl by nature, Booterman was content to embark a little later than was typical. If it meant hiking until dusk or beyond, so be it. This might have meant she missed out on some trail magic here or there, or hiked alone more often than not. But knowing that she owned every decision she made brought power and peace-of-mind that’s sometimes hard to find in the outside world.

That’s a trait I admire in many of the Wander Woman, but Booterman’s pretty face comes to mind when I hear someone say, “Hike Your Own Hike.” Thanks, Booterman.

Indie writer Meg Wilson is the author of Mourning Dove and Crappy New Year. She’s currently working on Wander Women, the true tale of a group of thru-hiking superwomen who spent last season on the A.T. Check out her blog here. And thanks for sharing with the Sasquatch, Meg!

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