Happy New Year, friends.

All my resolutions for 2014 are wrapped up in this one overarching goal: to walk about 5 million steps from Georgia to Maine and spend half of the year in the woods. This, hiking the Appalachian Trail, has been a dream of mine since I was about 10. It stayed mostly in the back of my mind until this year, when it transitioned from a vague idea to a definite plan. I’ve been researching and planning for a few months, but I’ve only recently started talking openly about it. So I figured the first day of the new year would be a good time to write something and make it official (and then, of course, to share that and make it Facebook official).

Last April, sometime around my 26th birthday, I was talking with a couple of friends about the idea of having themes for different years of our lives. I told them that I’d like 26 to be a year of travel for me. And it has, so far–last month I took the longest road trip I’ve been on since moving to California, I hiked down the Grand Canyon, I ate Texas barbecue and In-N-Out. But in talking about a year of travel, I had no idea that it would come to this. And I could not be happier about it. (Technically, my birthday will come after a month or so on the trail, so I guess 27 will have to be a year of travel too.)

Hopefully I’ll be posting here often in the next couple months. It’s like I’ve stumbled into an alternate universe, with the terminology, the gear debates, the traditions, the trail names and the sense of community…and I haven’t even left home yet. There is so much to talk about, and I imagine that my family and closest friends are already tired of hearing about it. So I’ll write here about my planning process, the things I’m learning, what I’m most excited about and what’s keeping me up at night (at the moment, ticks and snakes). In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to share any of your own experiences, please do.

So again, happy New Year. I hope that the last couple days have been meaningful for you, and I hope that whatever is in store for you in 2014 is bigger and bolder than anything that’s come before it.

*Image courtesy of RatTreks.com.

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