Blaze: A Zine About Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Blaze is the story of an adventure in 14 sections, one for each state on the AT. Accompanied by original artwork by Amelia “Patches” Cleveland, these short compositions represent important moments, people, and memories from my six-month journey on this long thin ribbon from Georgia to Maine. Shipping is included in the price. This link is for US orders only. For international orders, please contact me directly with the “contact” link, or via email to arrange shipping. Thank you!
The Story of Blaze
While I was on the Appalachian Trail, I started daydreaming about a writing project that would convey the thru-hiking experience in an authentic way. There are books about the AT, most prominently A Walk in the Woods. It’s a fun book, but it generally dismisses the idea of hiking the whole trail, and the perspective does not necessarily mirror that of a thru-hiker. And there is of course Wild, but it’s not about the Appalachian Trail, and it is a memoir. I didn’t want to write a memoir. 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.
What I wanted to write instead was something concise, unfiltered, and real. I wanted to write a section for each state on the AT, to focus my memory and process a specific event or place that stood out within each state on the trail. I wanted to honor the experience of thru-hiking without overly glorifying it, while appreciating it for what it was and all the gifts it gave me. I wanted to show readers what it was like to be in the south in the Spring, the mid-Atlantic in the summer, and Maine in the fall. I wanted them to meet my tramily and understand the thoughts of someone on the trail for six months.
I also wanted an excuse to collaborate with Patches, if I’m being honest. She’s a fantastic artist, and she was a major part of my thru-hike. It felt natural to work with her on this project.
And why did I choose to write a zine, and not a book? There are 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. Reading a Carrot zine makes me feel like there is no screen between me and the experience she is conveying. I wanted to write like that. I also wanted 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 what I wanted. That’s who thru-hikers are.
I want to write books. But not about the AT. The AT deserves something homemade and special. That’s why Blaze exists. It’s for you. It’s for us. I hope you love it.