Hi all, oats here! I’m the Social Media Wiz for The Trek back on IG Live with another Appalachian Trail interview. The interview I have for you today touches me deeply because trishadee is a Trek blogger who provides phenomenal updates of her journey since before she took her first steps.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The full recorded interview is available here @appalachian.trail on Instagram. All photos courtesy of Trishadee Newlin.
In your Blogger Bio on The Trek, you mention that you ran a mile for the first time in your life at 30 and have been backing up the goal posts ever since. How would you say you got to the point where the goal posts finally stretch from Georgia to Maine?
I actually injured myself training for my last half marathon. I think I tore something in my hip flexor about a month before the race and ran anyway (because sometimes we don’t make good decisions), and that kind of ended to my running career. Then I found myself asking, “Well, what’s next?”
I was living in Albania at the time and walking everywhere because the traffic was crazy, and my grandpa grew up deep in Appalachia, even more so than I am on the trails now. So with all my recent walking and growing up in the mountains, I did a 450 mile LASH in 2019 and I knew it wasn’t enough. It meant it was time to move the goalposts back and I decided to do the 2,200 miles this year.
I understand your trail name is Dandelion – can you tell us the story behind it?
Dandelion was given to me on my LASH in 2019. Obviously I have a ton of hair – it goes all the way down to my waist. I have a tiny little brush that I carry with me on the trail, I can’t keep my hair in braids like some girls do. So, I was brushing my hair at camp one night and a girl noticed I was making little “dandelion puffs” with what came out of my brush. I think it’s fine, I have a hell of a lion’s mane! I’m actually here at Angel’s Rest and the shuttle driver who picked me up said, “Oh you are beautiful Dandelion!” It happened in 2019 too, my reputation precedes me, and I sure hope it’s good!
What life experiences do you think helped you adjust to life on the track?
The biggest adjustment, and something I’ve had to learn over the past 10 years of my husband’s career, is independence. We did a few assignments at the embassy where we were in a much smaller community. The trail community is also small compared to the rest of the world. We were diplomats meeting people from all walks of life, cultures, ages and more.
I’ve really developed this skill of meeting people who are different from me and navigating a smaller community and that’s turned out to be a huge plus for me here – I’m comfortable with just about everyone and you won’t get any version of me other than the one standing right in front of you. I know who I am and what I can bring to the table. Having this experience outside of my own culture has really helped me grow.
I’m someone who travels at a speed that few people seem to travel on the trails (read Trishadee’s last message to her pace as she walks down the trail), so I spent a lot of time alone, which is very foreign to me. I think a lot of my life experiences have strengthened me to handle this alone time. I sometimes go whole days without talking to people (which I doubt my family believes), because I always say I’m genetically predisposed to talk to a rock if necessary.
One of your favorite articles is “Surviving the Snow in the Smoky Mountains”. The images of the snow on the shelters and the wind pushing on all the tent flies and ground tarps that hung on the open side – it really brought me back to my hike. Can you tell me your biggest lessons learned crossing these mountains? How does going through this difficult section make you feel what you still have to do?
People on the trail are going to be so sick of hearing that I’m stuck in the Smokies because it was such a big adventure. I call it “Breakfast Club: Extreme Outdoor Edition”. The crew I passed through came separately as nine solo hikers who didn’t know each other at all before setting foot on the trail. One of the biggest lessons that experience has taught me is to never underestimate the people you meet. There were people from 18 to 60, and we all had a skill that we could bring that helped us out. One of our younger guys was a rock climber, so he climbed into the rafters to hook up more tarps to keep the wind at bay. We had a nurse with us.
You can look at someone and so easily make quick judgments – I get a lot of stares because of my height – but you never know what someone will bring to the table. It’s a skill we can all develop.
Going into the mountains, I knew the storm was coming and I had a plan. But I started stressing about my gear because I heard other hikers starting to get scared of their own kits, and we all had very different setups. I started reaching out to other hikers (kudos to ‘Murica from the AT class of 2019!) to get another look at my kit and allay some of my fears. I blame him for the storm – he said to me, “You know, it looks really sweet, anyway!”
Don’t let the fear and anxiety of others stop you. Don’t take their anxiety on your own.
When I did my LASH in 2019, I did it from Delaware Water Gap to Hanover, NH. I’ve heard hikers say, “Oh, wait until you get to the Whites!” I really think it’s the thru-hikers version of WAAH-megeddon.
Can you tell me a bit about your 450 mile LASH and your time serving hikers as a Trail Angel?
Last summer I spent a month as a Trail Angel following a group of hikers from Salsbury, CT heading north. My husband and I were “homeless” because we had just returned from work abroad, and I loved settling in with a few drinks, giving shuttles and camping around everyone. I moved to Vermont for almost a week as the temperatures were over 100 degrees in early August.
I really got to experience a whole range of hikers: the NOBOs, grisled and slightly wild, preparing to enter the Blancs; SOBOs come in like puppies, bounce back after finishing White expecting everything to be easy now; and NOBO Long Trail hikers on Days 2 or 3 having existential crises with broken gear and light bulbs galore.
Watching these three groups interact together was like a sociologist’s dream. One of the things I took away from that is that everyone is going to have their own attitude towards climbing. “Murica told me that his group had done marathons through the Whites, which just blew my mind, but he told me something that I carry in my mind to this day. He said, ‘Yeah , we did. But we were broke when we got to southern Maine and it wasn’t the smartest idea for us. So I’ll just climb up and take it one day at a time.
So, at the start, we talked about the ever-moving goal posts…with that in mind, what awaits you after you reach Mount Katahdin?
I planned that if Katahdin doesn’t break me, I’m going to take a week off and then do the New England Trail because I live along it. Nothing would make me feel more fulfilled than heading south because I can end my hike with a water ride on Long Island Sound, hop on a ferry, and visit family with a bit of time to soak my feet!
Huge thanks to Trishadee for her time on this day on the town, you can subscribe to her posts on The Trek at her home Author page or follow her journey on Instagram @wanderingtdee.
I am oatssigning off until next time – Happy hiking!
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