• Ultralight Jerk

Opinion: If I Haven't Hiked The AT, Then Why Do I Have Lyme Disease?

I've thru hiked the Appalachian Trail. The problem? Nobody ever believes me.

When people see me, they don't see a thru hiker. They see an overweight, 38 year old father of two cats with an unfortunate affinity for manga. But I have hiked the AT and I am so damn tired of having to prove it

Four months ago, a friend from high school whom I had been out of touch with for years invited me to reconnect on an overnight backpacking trip. I had never done anything like that before but I figured, why not? He promised that it would be an easy trip on a small section of the AT. I was a bit nervous, but I was looking forward to getting a break from everyday life. Sitting around a campfire and walking through nature sounded just like what I needed.

The trip went great. The walking was not too bad, the campfire was amazing and I got to reconnect with an old friend. I had a lot of fun but what I didn't realize until 15 days later was that I had thru hiked the AT too.

It all started when I began to notice a dull pain in my joints and then a rash broke out around my thighs. Carole from work sold me some DoTerra essential oils to help but they didn't seem to do anything. Two months later, I began to have temporary paralysis of the right side side of my face. I went to the Dr. and he delivered news that would shake up my entire life.

I had Lyme disease, Bell's Palsy, and I thru hiked the AT.

The diagnosis changed my life. I finally had something to be proud of in my life. I added thru hiking the AT to my resume, my Tinder profile, and got an AT logo calf tattoo. The only issue? When I tell anyone, nobody believes me!

Now I have to carry around my medical charts. The burden of proof weighs more than my pack ever did that fateful weekend. When someone doubts that I have actually thru hiked the AT, with a smirk on my face, I show them the chart.

That always seems to do the tick but I shouldn't have to do this. People are gate-keeping what it means to hike the trail and dammit, if having Lyme isn't proof enough, I don't know what is.