Stories from the Trail

Alicia Labuski: Why I Hike

Alicia Labuski with her hiking pup, Bella at Sunset Rocks in Gardners, Pennsylvania.

I grew up camping and playing in the woods, but I had not experienced extended hiking and backpacking until I stepped foot on the Appalachian Trail in 2014. I was outfitted with all my novice gear and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and I loved every minute of it! Although it was not a necessarily difficult hike, it was still a challenge and the beginning of my personal journey towards self-reliance and self-confidence.

Every trip I take challenges my navigational skills, problem-solving skills, physical endurance, and intellectual power. Although I have a supportive and reliable partner on all my hikes, I am always thinking of ways to be more self-reliant in the wilderness. My ability to improve my skills on the Trail is directly related to my confidence in the “real world.” Finishing a difficult climb, finding a spring to replenish my water supply, navigating the landscape to make it to camp, and carrying everything I need on my back to stay alive and safe, are all things that put “real world” problems into perspective. When I reflect on what I have accomplished on the Trail, I’m reminded that I’m capable of achieving anything I put my mind to. I no longer wait for permission to chase my dreams and build my own true happiness. Why do I hike? To remind myself that I am part of a big, beautiful world, that has endless opportunities to satiate my thirst for happiness as long as I remain confident in myself and continue to climb toward my personal summit.