Blaze: A Zine About Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Blaze is the story of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 14 sections, one for each state on the AT. US orders only, please!
The Story of Blaze
While I was on the Appalachian Trail , I started daydreaming about a writing project that would authentically convey the thru-hiking experience. I thought about writing a memoir, but it didn’t seem quite right for this trail. Thousands of people hike the AT every year, and among them, I am very average. I didn’t feel like I had a unique enough story, or sufficient life experience, to write a memoir about thru-hiking the AT. I also plan to hike other long-distance trails, and I knew the AT would not be my sole experience.
What I wanted to write instead was something concise and unfiltered. I wanted to write a section for each state on the AT. I wanted to honor the experience of thru-hiking without glorifying it unnecessarily, while appreciating it for what it gave me.
I also enjoyed collaborating on this project with my highly creative friend Amelia Cleveland (trail name Patches!). She’s an awesome artist, and she was a major part of my thru-hike. It felt natural to work with her on this project.
I chose to write a zine, not a book, for a few reasons. First, I drew a lot of inspiration from Carrot Quinn‘s zines about her hikes. I love how raw her writing is. I wanted to write like that. I also chose a medium with a quick turnaround. I wanted to use it as a way to process the trail for the few months following my finish. I didn’t want to work with a publisher, because I wanted these stories to be one hundred percent mine. Zines have a long history of a firecracker DIY spirit in a small community. That’s who thru-hikers are.
Blaze was my way of processing the most meaningful adventure of my life thus far. It’s for you, for the trail, for us. I hope you enjoy it.