AT Thru-Hike #5 – Left Behind

While Steve does most of the blogging about our adventures, I wanted to share my thoughts as I get ready for Steve to begin his AT thru-hike on Saturday. Thru-hiking the AT has been a bucket list and dream of his for so many years. Way back in 2004 when we lived in Virginia and would talk about it, I secretly never thought it would come to fruition. Well, I’m eating those thoughts now!

Steve plans to depart on March 12th from Springer Mountain, GA and, if all goes well, will be gone for about 6 months. Many of my friends and family have asked me how I feel about this whole thing, so I decided to jot down my thoughts. I typically joke about it and say I’m glad he’s finally getting to do it so I don’t have to listen to him talk about it anymore and so he can quit obsessing over it all the time. And to set the story straight, he has assured me that this is not his attempt to get some time away from me after literally living together for 10 months in 480 square feet in “a van down by the river.”

I also have been asked many times why I’m not going with him. My answer to that is… “It’s not my crazy bucket list item!” Although I do enjoy hiking and being out in nature, I just don’t feel the draw to go that far and spend that many nights in a row in a tent on the ground! Even though I’m sure I would enjoy much about the experience, for me, the cons far outweigh the positives. Having said that, I know Steve’s experience will be much better if he’s not having me around to slow him up and complain about how my feet hurt, or I’m too hot, or I really need a bath!


I’m actually excited for him to be able to begin this bucket list adventure because I know how much he wants to do it, but I’m also very anxious and worrisome about it. Dwelling on the “what ifs” and negatives of his hike is something that I struggle with every day. In all areas of my life I try not to be a “Negative Nelly” but it is something that I have to fight against. In reaction to his hike, I will have to remind myself everyday to think about the positives (the nature experience, the camaraderie with his fellow hikers, the majestic views he will enjoy, his sense of accomplishment, and of course, the protection of the Almighty watching over him). I will have to keep my mind away from the “what ifs”, like “what if he gets lost, what if he gets hurt, what if he gets mugged by some crazy hiker, what if he’s in the middle of a bad storm, what if he runs out of water, what if he gets bitten by a snake and of course, the obvious…WHAT IF HE GETS MAULED BY A BEAR like Leo DiCaprio in The Revenant!” Those kinds of thoughts will only make my next 6 months miserable. Therefore, I am going to try very hard not think about those things! He has told me that I cannot start worrying unless I haven’t had any contact or text from him within 7 days. I can’t promise not to worry, but I promise not to call the Forest Ranger to go find him before the 8th day of no contact!

As for my plans for the next few months, I plan to spend quite a bit of time with my family in SC and visiting with friends around the country. One of the added blessings will be spending several weeks with my aging parents, which I know will be something that I will cherish for a long time. I plan to meet Steve 3 or 4 times at various trail towns along the hike and will mail him a few care packages along the way. We also have a wedding coming up in May that gives me something to be excited about! As a military wife, I was lucky to only have Steve gone on one long deployment for about 5 ½ months in his 23-year career. When he was in Afghanistan I had many things to worry about regarding his safety, but I had a house to keep and the kids at home to keep my mind and life busy. This time around, it’s just me and I don’t even have a typical “home” to hang out in. I will have to depend on my friends and family to house me and keep me busy! I like to think of myself as a pretty independent woman, but I’m sure doing things on my own for the next few months will get old after awhile. I will certainly miss my best friend that I’ve been living life with for the past 28 years!

I am happy that so many of our family and friends, new and old, are following Steve’s journey and supporting him while he’s living out this crazy dream. He will certainly look forward to reading all your posts and supportive comments on our blog or through Facebook, as will I. We solicit your prayers for both of us as we embark on this journey.

I guess I will finish up my thoughts here with a note to my dear, sweet husband…I am so proud of you for having the determination and drive to follow your dreams! I’m glad that we are at a point in our life that this dream is becoming a reality for you. I can promise you that I will pray for you daily (most likely multiple times each day), that I will miss you terribly (the good and the bad), that I will try not to worry TOO much (can’t promise that I won’t worry at all), but most importantly I promise you that I will LOVE YOU FOREVER!

Be safe, my love, and come back to me in one piece as soon as you can!!

Lil Jan


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16 thoughts on “AT Thru-Hike #5 – Left Behind”

  1. I’m sure you’ll miss him when it comes to black tank issues. Will keep you both in prayer. See you down the road. ❤

    1. Cathy- I don’t plan to travel in the RV while he’s hiking, so I’ll leave the black tank issues for later. I know that Greg has lots of advice for handling the black tank!! Hope things are well with you both and we look forward to seeing you again! Thanks for the prayers! God Bless, Lil Jan

  2. Very sweet comments Janet! We will be praying for you Steve & you as you are apart! May this time apart be one that you cherish.. The challanges, the family time & even the alone time which we feel sure will be a growing time as you lean on & spend time with the Lord!
    God Bless & keep you both safe in His Loving arms!

    1. Thanks for the support and kind words. I know that God will be looking after both of us! Hope you enjoy your time at Camp Bee this month! Give the Wiggains our love when your there! Lil Jan

  3. Lil Jan- I would like to commend you on the great support in letting big Steve live his dream in walking th AT. I feel sure that the sacrifice of “giving him up” will turn out to be a blessing for you both. Keep me posted. (Still no FB for lent and havent peeked yet, although FB is kind enough to.send me emails saying they have noticed that I havent logged in lately and wouldnt I like to check on my 94 nitifications)

    1. Peter- Thanks for the sweet words. They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. I guess this will be a good test for the validity of that saying! Hope things are well in Tuscaloosa and you’re still doing your thing!! God Bless, Lil Jan

  4. I may or may not have shed a tear reading this and I’m not sure why. I think because it was so sweet! Love you guys!!!

    1. Well, I may or may not have shed a tear while I was writing it as well! 🙂 Love you too sweetie! Lil Jan

  5. Steve and Janet, the start of a great adventure, enjoy every mile, Jan, I recall my daughters questioning my sanity as I took off for a merger 35 mile hike in my 65 th year but it is still embedded in my mind as a great “small” adventure . Steve after the 1st Mt out of Springer, I too was questioning my sanity. May the trail Gods watch over you! Uncle Phil?

    1. Uncle Phil- thanks for keeping up with us! I’ve definitely questioned Steve’s sanity a few times for wanting to do this! But glad he’s getting to have the adventure! Take care of yourself!! Lil Jan

  6. I definitely shed a tear! Love you both so much and so thankful for your example! Prayers will be said!

    1. Jeanie- Love you too, girl! Looks like you just had a great trip as well. Thanks for the prayers! You take good care of yourself. Lil Jan

  7. I’ve got an extra bed if you make to Dallas while Steve’s roughing it. We’ll go get our nails done. You two are some of the bravest people I know. Proud of you both.

  8. Way to go big Steve! This will be an accomplishment for both of you! God speed and I will be praying for you both! Janet – come by and see me in Charleston.

    1. Thanks Lisa! I’m enjoying Brooke’s posts and pics from the Holy Lands. I’m sure you and Guy are very proud of her. Thanks for your prayers for us while I’m on the Trail.

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