In 2015 I quit my corporate Manhattan job and set out on the Appalachian Trail alone. It took me 4.5 months to complete. Since hiking I have been dealing with a lot of different challenges, post trail depression, trying to find a job and doing physical therapy to get my body back to being able to hike at all.

My Proof: <- Information on my spending and mileage

Edit: I answered as much as I could handle! Thanks everyone!

Comments: 2766 • Responses: 90  • Date: 

formally_frank3353 karma

Oh my gosh! Is this the Stretch I met in the Smokies? This is Frank (a girl). If so, I have a picture of you doing yoga in a shelter (while I was huddled up, not doing yoga).

EDIT: I've read your other posts, you HAVE to be the same Stretch! I haven't seen you since Hot Springs!

EDIT 2: Guess which one is Stretch

Edit 3: I'm getting a ton of harassment on some of my old posts, so I'm deleting this account. It is super cool to call a pregnant woman fat, ya'll. Thank you for the gold and for the kind words, but I would have never posted anything if I had known it was going to blow up like this.

hotstargirl2707 karma

FRANK! I heard you got off the trail, you were really hauling ass or a while there. I'm glad I got to meet you!

formally_frank1876 karma

I had to get off in New Jersey! My husband asked me to come home, and that was our deal, so I did. I was so freaking disappointed. Yeah, I was getting pretty solid 25 miles a day for a while there (North PA was rough). I left lots of Beyonce lyrics behind, though.

Want to talk about post-trail depression, I basically sat at home and cried over instagram for weeks after I got off trail. It took everything not to drive back and try to finish. Husband and I had a deal that we would finish the last 700 miles this summer.... but then he went and got me pregnant. I think it was a secret plot so he didn't have to sleep outside :)

hotstargirl1453 karma

Congratulations on your future hiker :)

StevenTheSloth407 karma

Small fucking world.

hotstargirl414 karma

It really is. It's a very tight knit social community

hotstargirl417 karma

I love that you actually have a pic of me doing yoga :) thanks for that!

tastypic1098 karma

What was the trail name you were given?

hotstargirl1515 karma

Stretch, I was always doing some yoga

Norp66662 karma

What exactly is a "trailname"?

hotstargirl1173 karma

It's a name you take on for fun on the trail. For some it's a new identity as well. Usually you're named by other hikers you meet in the beginning.

acerom1020 karma

What do you mean by Post trail depression?

hotstargirl2219 karma

After you get off the trail most thru hikers have a hard time adjusting back to their old lives. As a person you have changed so much and over the course of a half a year, most of your family, friends and home has changed. It's like you don't fit where you used to fit and what was home before. It's hard to deal with.

You also had been living a simple life with clear goals and tons of camaraderie and when you get home things are so much more open and people look after themselves more.

It's a hard adjustment.

Callum444121638 karma

Hey stretch! It's Campfire (and Young Guns, or the Canadians). I immediately thought this could be you when I read the title.

Would you consider hiking it all over again? I'm looking at redoing it all in a few years once I'm finished school. Also Arrow just posted his thru hike video onto youtube, you should check it out.

hotstargirl522 karma

CAMPFIRE!!!! Nah, I wouldn't do it again. I also saw Arrows video this morning which was nice. When you come through Jersey again let me know. I'll treat you and Young Guns like royalty

United_Hairlines585 karma

Do you have a before and after photo?

hotstargirl695 karma

I looked the same. Sorry to disappoint

BackLeap969 karma

No beard?

hotstargirl1351 karma

I tried to grow one and failed

Panwall411 karma

Armpit beard?

hotstargirl803 karma

oh yeah

glorious_cheese557 karma

Sketchiest moment?

hotstargirl1127 karma

At one point I was bluff charged by a bear. It got really close to me and I thought I was going to get killed. Besides that the trail was very safe. Way safer than the "real world".

NothappyJane447 karma

My husband hiked a portion of it and saw 11 bears. How MANY bears did you see?

Edit I don't understand any of these references, I feel like Captain America like, um, before he googled.

hotstargirl357 karma

I saw about that many, New Jersey has the most bears on the trail and I didn't actually see any through there.

dick-nipples189 karma

I would've shit my pants, turned around and hiked home after that.

hotstargirl1659 karma

Nah, I had to keep going, I was 2 miles from an All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet.

pm_me_my_own_comment145 karma

Did you name the bear after it didn't kill you?

hotstargirl779 karma

Yes, his or her was henceforth referred to as That Asshole Bear.

Zxcvbnm123_35 karma

I put off my trip to Smoky Mt NP late last fall because of a bear alert. My only fear is bears and that is why i put off hiking. I just am unable to get over this block. Any tips? Because i really love nature and want to experience it all.

hotstargirl35 karma

Just be smart, know how to keep your food from bear and what to do to be safe

sebruzda496 karma

How many miles did you walk in one day?

hotstargirl814 karma

Most days I walked about 20 miles depending on the terrain. The most of I hiked was 32 miles in one day.

Daddymoo267 karma

Wow is that not way faster than most?

hotstargirl311 karma

Average is just shy of 6 months.

blaze_kai487 karma

What happened to cause you to need physical therapy to get back in hiking shape?

hotstargirl684 karma

I developed patellar tendontitis in both my knees. Hiking can be hard on your body. I finally have insurance again so we're figuring out the root of my issues. It seems that one of my legs is longer than the other which is causing muscular imbalances. I've been a collegiate and post collegiate athlete doing track and running half marathons but the hiked seems to have put my previous issues over the edge.

Archchancellor474 karma

What's the longest you went without a shower? I'm talking hot-water-separate-soap-for-your-head-and-body-stand-in-there-as-long-as-you-want.

hotstargirl650 karma

I actually got to shower way more than expected. The longest I went was probably just 5 days.

Archchancellor290 karma

That's good. There's nothing more destructive to morale than not being able to clean yourself, I'm my experience.

hotstargirl518 karma

You'd be surprised how much filth you get used to. I was happier with clean clothes than a clean self, clean clothes were more rare.

Avechan461 karma

whats it like to have a period?

hotstargirl688 karma

Annoying but manageable. I used a menstrual cup, The Diva Cup, and I ended up liking it a lot better than tampons or pads.

ElMangosto298 karma

You should be careful, I heard bears attack cup users more often.

hotstargirl332 karma


JamesTiberiusChirp24 karma

How did you sterilize your hands/the cup on the trail? Did you have multiple cups that you could just switch out? I hate using mine in public restrooms and I have access to running water and soap. I can't imagine using one on the trail

hotstargirl55 karma

I just had one. I carried water with me to the privy and rinse and used some toilet paper carefully to clean. I also had no shame with it in public restrooms. You gotta do what you gotta do

justinkasereddditor377 karma

What did you learn about your self ? And would you do it again ? What type of work are you looking for ? So many questions

hotstargirl506 karma

  • I learned that I can be patient and keep following through with goals when it's difficult, tiring and I'm missing home.

  • Once was enough for me

  • I'm looking for a job as a graphic designer. I love working in layouts, print design and marketing. It's been hard to find the job that looks challenging, with great colleagues, interesting enough work and will hire me :) the job market isn't so great right now which certainly doesn't help.

*edit: formatting

AnomalousOutlier128 karma

Now you know that you are adventurous, consider an overseas job. There are many beautiful countries to see. Perhaps the Kiwis or the Aussies need great graphic design?

hotstargirl255 karma

Sounds lovely but i spent a lot of time traveling before I even left to hike the trail and now I'm ready to be grounded for a while. I have a boyfriend here and want to spend more time with family.

hcshock49 karma

Did you hike with your boyfriend? If not, how did you two deal with 4.5 months of separation? I imagine it's even more difficult because you aren't really able to communicate as often out on the trail.

hotstargirl115 karma

I did hike with him on the trail but we weren't dating at the time. I didn't have many ties at the time so it was a good time to hike. I had no mortgage, partner, bills, loans.

a_freakin_ONION304 karma

Would you go alone again, or do you think it's better to go with someone else?

hotstargirl505 karma

The Appalachian Trail is very social and that can be pretty overwhelming after a while. I would do something more remote and quiet if I were to ever hike like that again. But I think I'm done with the multi-month excursions, I'm looking forward to being grounded for a while.

pixelsicle117 karma

This is probably my biggest surprise. I have been wanting to do either the PCT or AT. Do you think the PCT would be a less social experience? (I would prefer that)

hotstargirl85 karma

I haven't hiked the PCT so I have no idea. Try asking the PCT subreddit. Many of them have done both

alonesomeryder223 karma

A through hike has been a dream of mine all my life. I'm almost 60 now and quite active. I ride bike, my goal is 1000 miles this year. I can't do anything until I'm 70 and retired. Do I have even the slightest chance of being able hike the trail?

hotstargirl185 karma


Alexxan221 karma

It only took 4.5 months for the whole Appalachian trail? It took me and my Boy Scout troop a week to walk 50 miles lmao. Granted some of it was Rocksylvania/Pennsylvania, up hills, or slopes with a fun drop if you slipped.

Question 1: How much wildlife did you encounter, if any? We found a rattlesnake so that's always good, especially when snakes are your biggest fear.

Question 2: What kind of gear did you bring?

Question 3: Were you going full solo, hiking with others, or going and getting supplies every once in a while?

Hope you can get over your Post Trail depression soon and get back into a stable life cycle! Wishing the best for you.

hotstargirl293 karma

You really pick up the miles after your body get trained day after day to do so.

  • I saw plenty of deer, birds, bear, snakes. I didn't see any moose or rattlesnakes, although I was told by other hikers I almost stepped on a rattlesnake at one point.

  • My gear was lightweight, Granite Gear Blaze 60, Tarptent Rainbow, Enlightened Equipment quilt.

  • I was sole but I knew many people around me and would hike with other every now and then. I actually finished the last few weeks with 2 other hikers. Mentally, I needed that to get me to the finish.

Yorshy70 karma

Do you have a full list of the gear you used?

hotstargirl163 karma

I actually don't have a full list of the gear I finished with. I should get on that.

LordNebbs180 karma

Would you do it again, or consider the transpacific trail? *pretty sure that's the wrong name

hotstargirl370 karma

This is a hard question. Really hiking the trail really through my life off. I'm too hurt to run or hike (my favorite things to do), I'm still unemployed and because of my limitations I've put on a bunch of weight. I loved most of my time hiking but it was actually a really bad idea.

I don't think I would thru hike again but it will always sound nice.

dubodubo103 karma

Why was it a really bad idea?

hotstargirl448 karma

  • I gave up a career I loved

  • I'm hurt and can't currently reach other activity goals I have

  • I set myself pretty far back on other goals I have in my career and life.

It was a bad idea, but I don't regret it.

B3M092 karma

Did 5 months off really set your career back that much? Or is it a mental thing?

hotstargirl191 karma

It's just not a great job market. I have gotten close a few times to getting a full time job. It takes about 9 months to get a job and I've only been solidly looking for ~6.

CanuckBacon41 karma

I gave up a career I loved

It takes about 9 months

I've put on a bunch of weight

Sounds like you're pregnant

hotstargirl58 karma

I gave birth to a thru hike

thepipesarecall-7 karma


hotstargirl6 karma

During the hike I developed injuries in my knees that have kept me from running or hiking. Post trail depression and poor eating habits from the trail contributed to my weight gain. I recently got a bike though and have been working hard to get back in shape in the ways that I can.

There's no excuse for being unemployed, it's just a hard job market. In the meantime I worked part-time at REI to get myself out of post trail depression and ease back to work and have done freelance design projects. Right now my full time job is finding a full time job. I've put countless hours every week into applying to jobs and interviewing.


What all equipment did you carry? Tent, hammock, or bivvy?

How much food did you carry with you, and did sourcing supplies cause you any problems?

hotstargirl222 karma

I carried a tent, Tarptent Rainbow! Light and roomy.

I carried 4ish days of food depending on where I planned to stop next. Generally getting supplies was easy because of the abundance of nearby towns so there were no problems.

daeedorian135 karma

How did you handle the 100 mile wilderness in Maine?

hotstargirl318 karma

I was hangry but the terrain was easy

pitatopizza143 karma

What kind of food did you eat?

hotstargirl288 karma

Terrible food. When you hike you need roughly 5000 calories a day. So you eat foods that have a good weight to calorie ratio. I ate a lot of candy, Cliff Builders Bars, Knorr Rice Sides, Oatmeal, Carnation instant breakfast, tortillas with ~1/3 of a block of cheese.

pitatopizza119 karma

Thanks, my sister wanted to know about what kind of foods she needs to bring along because she wants to hike the Appalachian trail someday. Another thing she wants to know is: how did you train?

hotstargirl223 karma

I had no idea what to do with food so I just watched what other people did and went from there.

Be in shape but mental training is the most important. Just prepare yourself to be wet, tired and hungry continuously and you'll be great.

infinite_hex140 karma

Was the experience 'life changing' by any means? if so, how?

hotstargirl277 karma

The experience itself was life changing. But not in the big aha clarity moment that most people assume it is. It mellowed me out even more than I was, I gained patience and strength to reach goals.

I actually thought I had things figured out before I hiked and then as I hiked I started questioning everything. A little bit after the trail I questioned all my choices more but then after time it all fell back together. I was able to realize that the choices I made before my hike were great and I want to get back to where I was with a career and making my career a forever evolving "Katadin".


Did you ever take a day off and stay in town?

How much walking on average did you do each day prior to prep for such a long journey?

Edit: Related to the first question. What did the 9 zero mile days consist of as far as time spent?

hotstargirl167 karma

I took a few days here and there off to rest in towns as well as short days into town. Prior to hiking I did walk a lot. I was working in Manhattan and living in the area without a car. Before the trail I stopped getting a monthly subway pass and walked 2.5 miles to work and 2.5 miles home from work on top of walking during lunch breaks and whenever I need to do errands around town. I was also training for a half marathon running 40 miles a week.

UptownCLT99 karma

What did you do in Manhattan - i.e. what is your career field?

hotstargirl131 karma

I'm a graphic designer in publishing and media.

screwstd90 karma

Any advice for someone who wants to do the same? How did you afford all that time with no income? What all equipment did you have to buy? How much did all of it weigh?

hotstargirl147 karma

It might not seem like it, but hiking is expensive. Work part time and save your money. It cost me $24 a day to hike. You can buy used equipment at gear swaps and craigslist. Just make sure you do research on that so you know where to spend and where to cheap out.

PhilosophicalBrewer25 karma

Can you elaborate on $24 a day? Is this mostly cost of food?

hotstargirl29 karma

You can see more in my infographic above, but food, accommodations, replacing gear

Pretending2Bcool90 karma

Did you ever think about quitting? If so what kept you motivated to keep going?

hotstargirl153 karma

I thought about how nice it would be towards the end to not have to hike but quitting wasn't an option in my mind.

hockeyandcars84 karma

Best view?

hotstargirl174 karma

This is hard to say because there are many great views and it does depend on when you're there, the weather and you're mood. I would have to say that the White Mountains in New Hampshire had some of the most amazing views though.

songofangrymen79 karma

How bad did you smell at the end?

hotstargirl159 karma

Really really bad

Remsquared77 karma

Will you be the woman who walks a thousand miles to fall down at my door?

hotstargirl133 karma

Then I would walk 500 more

whistlingtrees73 karma

Did you ever hike off trail? Did you ever get lost?

hotstargirl121 karma

The trail is pretty well defined and it's hard to get lost. I got turned around a few times but not lost.

SwapBooks63 karma

Might be a dumb question, but what did you do when it rained along the way? Do you plan to make it to a shelter or something?

hotstargirl137 karma

I just got wet. There's not a lot to do so just keep going.

Robert59362 karma

Did you enjoy doing it alone or would you have liked to have someone with you?

hotstargirl124 karma

I enjoyed a good mix. During the day I would hike my own pace and get lost in nature and my thoughts. At night I preferred to have my friends around to unwind with.

Stickycracks55 karma

Do you have anymore details about the physical therapy? I can definitely see how hiking for four and a half months would be pretty hard on your body, but I am interested in what happened to your body after you completed the journey to make you need physical therapy to hike again.

hotstargirl61 karma

I developed patellar tendontitis in both my knees. Hiking can be hard on your body. I finally have insurance again so we're figuring out the root of my issues. It seems that one of my legs is longer than the other which is causing muscular imbalances. I've been a collegiate and post collegiate athlete doing track and running half marathons but the hiked seems to have put my previous issues over the edge.

hibiscusdiscus50 karma

What's a good hiking boot that you recommend? How are you treating post trail depression? What does post trail depression feel like?

hotstargirl90 karma

Hiking boots vary and its what works best for you.

The best way to treat post trail depression is to surround yourself with family, friends and make sure you exercise and hike when you can. I had a hard time with this because I physically couldn't hike or exercise the way I would have wanted to.

It feels the same as any other depression. It lowers your motivation and makes the simple everyday pretty trying.

smackmyteets43 karma

You've mentioned that you put a lot of weight on and also that your too injured to walk/run. Did the weight come from bad diet on the trail or when you got back due to much fewer calories being burnt? Can you elaborate on the injury?

hotstargirl95 karma

Many factors:

  • Poor diet on the trail. It's hard to adjust from eating a ton of carbs and candy to then being able to eat fresh vegetables and real food again. You're body also is still in high gear and wants food even though your activity level has significantly dropped.

  • Also, post trail depression, it's hard to motivate yourself to make the right choices.

  • I'm big into running and hiking. I love training for races. Without my go-to's, it was hard to get back to where I used to be.

GiskardReventlov30 karma

Was the alcohol purely recreational, or did you use it primarily as a clean water source / antiseptic / painkiller? It seems like it was a surprisingly big part of your budget.

hotstargirl79 karma

Recreational… I'm a big beer enthusiast

camrd30 karma

What was your favorite hut in the white mountains?

hotstargirl68 karma

I didn't stop at all of the huts so I couldn't really give you a solid answer. My favorite was always the ones that fed me

dhphamCBR27 karma

Whats your before and after weight?

hotstargirl45 karma

I didn't keep great track of my weight throughout but before I was 136 lbs and at the lowest (that I actually saw on a scale) I was 124 lbs. When I finished I was back near 134 lbs.

BottleNcanClapUrHand18 karma

I see a lot of AT thru-hiker videos with people sporting 50-65 liter packs. Do you notice a lot of hikers switching packs or compressing dead space after a month or so on the trail? I am by no means an ultralight guy and usually do only week long hikes, but 50-65 liters just seems like so much space, even for once a week resupplies. Also there's a guy whose trail name is Seven and makes a documentary of the trail every year. In them, there seems to be a culture of young hippies. People taking drugs don't have jobs and getting drunk on the trail cause they have nowhere else to be. Is this a big thing? Or just a subculture/minority? I don't mind people hiking and smoking a joint in the woods but if I had to hike along people who weread constantly on drugs it would get annoying.

hotstargirl27 karma

Many hikers downsized their packs. 50-65 is a great size but you need to be careful about the weight since it can take a toll on your body. You see many 50+ lb packs in the beginning and not so much later on. My pack was about 27 lbs most of the hike.

There are a bunch of hippies who make it work every year and they are harmless and interesting. The party crowd is pretty harmful but tend to drop out and fall back. In general not many drink a lot and are very respectful.

Ali_knows17 karma

What is your favorite color?

hotstargirl22 karma


coug11712 karma

What's up fellow class of 2015! Wettest year in Virginia history we weathered through that year. Do you remember a guy named Roméo going north?

As for a question, here's a favorite of mine to ask on the trail. Favorite state?

hotstargirl20 karma

I don't think I met Romeo

New Hampshire, it destroyed my body but was so damn gorgeous

Picturerazzi9 karma

Awesome! :)

Had you read the book, "Wild," by Cheryl Strayed (or saw the movie with Reese Witherspoon? If so, did you find the book/film to be accurate or wildly fiction?

Did you journal while you hiked?

hotstargirl12 karma

I did journal on my blog linked above.

PathTo3Commas7 karma

did u died?

hotstargirl10 karma


Blindobb6 karma

Did you grow a beard?

hotstargirl15 karma

The biggest of beards

jenngrief6 karma

As a female working with a corporate job in Manhattan who fantasizes about doing the same thing, you are an inspiration. How much did you have to prepare beforehand (physically/financially)? How long did that take?

hotstargirl12 karma

It was on my mind as least 3 years before I left. I started figuring out how to do it and getting gear a year beforehand. I started saving when I made the FINAL final decision a few months before I left. You'll need to start planning at the very least a few months prior but there are still those you meet on the trail who just grabbed a bunch of stuff from REI the week before and left.

HeirDelta31413 karma

Through your travels what was your motivation? And how do you go from being comfortable at home or whatever with work or school to just saying, I'm going to hike!

hotstargirl3 karma

Motivation varied. Generally it was that I couldn't quit what I started and thatI wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. It was a good challenge.

capreesun3 karma

I'm also a female addicted to backpacking, but I do tend to shy away from major hikes when I didn't have anyone to go with. How did you manage to stay safe, would you have done anything differently, and what advice would you have for solo female hikers?

Thanks for your time!

hotstargirl7 karma

Stop worrying so much about being safe. Know what to do and how to be safe and just keep moving on with that

AvocadoAlexandra3 karma

holyshit. i've always been a solo hiker as well. i really get distracted for some reason when i have to do anything outdoors with another person.

my longest hike is so far the lonestar hiking trail in texas and parts of arizonatrail still a baby compared to your 2189.2mi!!!!!!!!!!!!! but i would really like to hike the pacific crest.

I think the main reason i hold back so much is because i'm scared of the animals. What if i meet a bear? (saw your comment about being charged by bear.) and what about snakes. poison?

But the main question I wanted to ask you is, what did your meal preps look like? how did you refill? water purifier? can you tell me more about your food and water?

hotstargirl10 karma

I carried a Sawyer Squeeze for water and food prep was simply boiling water.

I know what to do with bear safety so that helped a lot. It just takes some research to find out what you need to do.

MonolithV2 karma

Why did you decide to hike alone? These kinds of outdoor adventures seem much more enjoyable when enjoyed with family and friends.

hotstargirl16 karma

Hiking with a friend sounds nice but you have to modify your pace and expectations for the few months you are away. It just makes more sense to do it alone.

cuj462 karma

How did you prepare for the trip in terms of gear, money, food, etc?

hotstargirl11 karma

Lots of reddits appalachian trail subreddit, reading sources and hiking on weekends.

Electroverted2 karma

Was meeting other hikers on the trail while traveling alone as rapey as "Wild" makes it out to be?

hotstargirl8 karma

No where near.

bootsthealchemist2 karma

Congratulations on your hike, I'm sure your feelings about it will change and become more positive. A forum I'm on is currently having a huge debate about women hiking alone, roughly split between Europeans ('you probably won't get hurt') and Americans ('go armed for bear'). As someone with real experience, what would your advice be?

EDIT: the debate started originally from a question about the human threat rather than the animal.

hotstargirl12 karma

It's very safe and don't overthink it.

I got WAY too many comments about my safety that a male my age would not have gotten. People were even upset with me when I said I wasn't carrying a gun/mace/large knife.

I agree with European's, treating women as inferior and incapable of recognizing dangerous situations to steer clear of is insulting.

thehetmanm2 karma

Im hoping to hike the trail at some point and i was wondering what you do for food/how much did you have on you while hiking?

hotstargirl4 karma

I have my spending in the links above, it's in an infographic

the_bum_on_the_bus2 karma

Did you ever have any major moments of doubt that you would finish?

hotstargirl9 karma

No, there was a small fear in the White Mountains when my knees were acting up but from the beginning I was set on finishing.

SomebodySaveMe1111 karma

How much money did you save? How much of it did you end up spending? Flights, gear, food, accommodation?

hotstargirl6 karma

If you look at my link above I have an infographic with what I spent.

hotstargirl6 karma

I have an infographic linked above with my spending

sleazedisease1 karma

My question, why did you do it alone and how often did you encounter other wild hikers? Was it a "I can do it by myself" mentality or did you just not have anyone who would do it along side you? I've thought about jumping on the trail after I finish cosmetology school, and quite frankly doing it alone would scare the bejesus out of me.

hotstargirl5 karma

You're never really alone on the trail. There are plenty of others around to talk to

Spacerimecontinuum1 karma

Meet any interesting people along the way?

hotstargirl1 karma