They say nothing is official until …

… it’s been on FaceBook, right? Well even though I’ve told a few people privately and alluded to it a bunch of times, here’s my official announcement:

I’m going to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail beginning in early March 2013. After more than a 1/4 century of wishing and dreaming, I finally am making this happen.

With Mother Nature’s good graces, I plan a March 5th step off and summit Mt Katahdin on Sept 29, 2013, my 60th birthday.

I am SO excited and SO stoked for this! It’s in the forefront of my mind constantly!

Please do ask questions! Here are the questions I am most commonly asked:

1. You’re going WITH someone, right?
Well … no. I do know a few people where are also starting on the same day and we’ll likely often camp nights in the same place but we’re not hiking together.

2. Is it safe to hike alone?
It’s probably safer than living here in Rochester. There will be others on the trail also if something were to happen to me.

3. How far is that?
How long will it take? 2,184 miles. 5-6 months. One way. 😉 All the way from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt Kadahdin in Maine. (see map below)

4. Does this mean you’re going to miss fest?
Miss my tribe?? Nooooo way! It will take some planning but I should be able to get a ride from the trail in to JFK, fly to GR, and take the shuttle in. I’ll just do the reverse to get back to the trail.

5. Won’t that be scary and hard? Aren’t you afraid?
Parts of it will be scary and most of it will be very hard but I’m not afraid. [insert Helen Redding singing “I Am Woman”]

6. Are there bears/snakes/spiders? Yes. Also raccoons, skunks, and porcupines. What will you do if you see a [insert wild critter]? Hello!!! I will take it’s photo!!! If you are my friend, you should already know this! LOL! Then I will quietly avoid it and carry on.

7. What will you do about food and water?
I will find water along the way, filter it with a hankie, and purify it with ultraviolet light. Some of my food will be dehydrated and packaged ahead of time and mailed for me to pick up at various post offices along the way. The rest of my food will be purchased at local grocery stores in towns.

8. Will you have cell phone signal or internet?
This might be a mixed blessing but I’m told I will have Verizon service nearly the entire trail. Computers and internet are generally available at hikers hostels and in town libraries.

9. Why are you doing this? Why now?
I’ve been a wanderer and explorer for as long as I can remember. What’s over that horizon, around that bend, down that abandoned road? There’s something in me that PULLS to explore. And why now? Heh. I’ll have a few vlog/blog entries on that but basically … I’m nearly 59 right now. If not now, when?

10. How will we know where you are and if you’re okay?
I plan on putting up a blog detailing my journey, both the trail portion and the inner portion. I hope to video on a near daily basis to “take folks along with me” who can’t hike the trail for themselves.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 1.31.46 AM


The above was posted on my FB wall and got a LOT of responses:

  • Lucretia R. Banks Wish I was walking it with you
    September 24, 2012 at 11:36am · Unlike · 1
  • Carrie Knepp Bunny this is amazing and I can’t wait to follow your journey! I would love to do something like this, but I just don’t know if I’m brave enough…Is there a list of addresses along the way where things (like letters/cards of support) can be mailed to you?
    September 24, 2012 at 11:36am · Unlike · 2
  • Pat Boggs That’s awesome Bunny!!! Wish I could join u!!
    September 24, 2012 at 11:37am via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • Diane Gilmore Saunders Bunny, I think you know I’ve also wanted to do this my whole life but what’s so weird is that I dreamed last night that I called you and said BUNNY, I can hike the trail with you. So weird that you happened to post this today.
    September 24, 2012 at 11:37am · Unlike · 1
  • Abigail Kennedy Go Bunny! What kind of boots will you be using?
    September 24, 2012 at 11:43am · Like
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Abi, so far the winner is the Keen Targhee II Women’s Low. They make my feet look like canal barges but it’s not a fashion runway I’ll be walking.—Womens-17705P.jpg

    September 24, 2012 at 11:46am · Like · 1 · Remove Preview
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Diane … and are you going to call and say this??
    September 24, 2012 at 11:47am · Like
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Carrie… yes! Some time before I leave, I will post a list of town & post offices I figure I’ll be stopping at.  thank you!
    September 24, 2012 at 11:48am · Like · 2
  • Abigail Kennedy What is the trail like? As clear and well marked as Adirondack trails? Does it run along ridgelines? Is there a lot of up and down?
    September 24, 2012 at 11:50am · Like
  • Laura Ackerman !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    September 24, 2012 at 11:52am · Unlike · 2
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer yes, yes, yes. 
    It is clearly white blazed along the entire length.
    The AT was designed to go peak to peak. 
    If there was a choice between an easy route or challenging route, the designers chose the challenging route every time. Some areas will require me lowering my pack and then climbing/sliding down or tossing pack up and climbing up after it. 

    Here’s a good idea of elevation changes:

    Appalachian Trail Elevations

    Trail Journals, Google Trail Maps, Snow Conditions, Weather Forecasts, Forums and much more.
    September 24, 2012 at 11:55am · Edited · Like · Remove Preview
  • Rhiannon Ellis Hart SO jealous!
    September 24, 2012 at 11:57am · Unlike · 1
  • Sherry Wright OMG OMG! This is on my bucket list! I have wanted to do this for so logn. I am SO happy for you. This is so friggin rad and amazing. Wonderful wonderful! Right on! Good for you sister.
    September 24, 2012 at 11:59am · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Linda … like like like! Wasn’t sure if you wanted to be named/tagged in my announcement.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:02pm · Like · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Linda Dee is a festie who will also be on the trail the same time as me.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:03pm · Like · 1
  • Bobbie DeVoll This looks like a great book for you Bunny.

    Hikers Memoirs – Appalachian Trail

    This is the author’s daily journal as she backpacked alone along the Appalachian…See More
    September 24, 2012 at 12:09pm · Unlike · 1 · Remove Preview
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Linda, yes! 3 people have asked me if I’m taking a gun! nooooo!
    But I am taking bear spray or pepper spray or similar.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:15pm · Like · 1
  • Abigail Kennedy The elevation charts are very interesting. Let’s see – 2,184 miles in 209 days (less however long you spend at Fest). Hmm, average minimum of 10.5 miles per day. 428, 515 feet of total ascent, 427,046 feet of total descent. Do you use trekking poles? Do you plan for any rest days off (besides Mich Fest)? You are bound to be extraordinarily fit by the time you finish!!
    September 24, 2012 at 12:15pm · Unlike · 1
  • Spike Kenny What an amazing way to celebrate your birthday Bunny! I am positive you will experience life changing discoveries about yourself and the continuing chapters of what is around the bend in your amazing life.I too will be doing a month long roadtrip with an Australian mate;also celebrating my 60th next year.The best is yet to come:).
    September 24, 2012 at 12:18pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer all excellent questions. 

    Yes, I will use trekking poles but not the wooden staff type. I love my Lekis! They are extremely helpful in taking some of the weight/shock of downhills and they will also form the main support of my tent. 
    I could not have hiked the Grand Canyon without them. Below I’ve included a nice essay on hiking poles.

    I plan on 1 rest day every 5-7 days. the idea of a an “average” day’s distance just isn’t very relevant here. Initially, I will take it as slow and easy paying close attention to my body as necessary to get up to speed. No matter how much I train and prepare, it’s not going to be as long or strenuous as the real thing.

    articles – tips & how-to’s – why should you use hiking poles? –

    Tips & How-to’s – Why Should You Use Hiking Poles?
    September 24, 2012 at 12:25pm · Like · Remove Preview
  • Jody Mirto Clouse You’re amazing! Can’t wait to follow along, and hopefully we can meet up at fest 2013!
    September 24, 2012 at 12:28pm · Unlike · 1
  • Kimberly Esslinger I am thrilled for you! Looking forward to hearing more and following your trail.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:29pm · Unlike · 1
  • Mj Stephenson soooo excited for you! what an adventure!
    September 24, 2012 at 12:29pm · Unlike · 1
  • Diane Gilmore Saunders Bunny, you have no idea how much I wish my dream was real but until I can get my health issues sorted out, my hike will have to wait. Ironically, Amanda and I were on a week-long AT hike when I had my first symptoms that ultimately led to my MS diagnosis. I will be with you in spirit and love all the way and with hope that one day I can do it too.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:34pm · Unlike · 1
  • Sabrina Beach YAY! Now you’re FBO! I look forward to your updates next year as you wander Northward.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:34pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • Naomi Masako Reagan So excited for you, Bunny!!!
    September 24, 2012 at 12:41pm · Unlike · 1
  • Barb Smalley I highly recommend a pair of these as your camp-shoes, river fording, and day-off knock abouts:
    September 24, 2012 at 12:47pm · Like
  • Barb Smalley

    Mountain Shop :: Footwear :: Women’s Footwear :: Sandals :: Keen Whisper – Women’s

    The Mountain Shop is your local outdoor gear retailer. We provided the essential…See More
    September 24, 2012 at 12:47pm · Unlike · 1 · Remove Preview
  • Barb Smalley I bought a pair of last year’s model for 50.00 at REI.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:48pm · Like
  • Sabrina Beach You’vebeen talking about this as long as I’ve known you. SO HAPPY FOR YOU to be able to do it!
    September 24, 2012 at 12:52pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • Georgia Mitchell If you want company let Kari and I know. I want to start it off with someone who has camped/carried and cooked on the AT or any overnight experience or willing to have a couple of companions to share the beginning bit. We want to start in Springer Mountain mid or late April…still collecting gear. I’ve got my pack. Grin
    September 24, 2012 at 12:56pm via mobile · Like
  • Georgia Mitchell Btw…I can’t read your photo entirely. It cut off everything you said. I want to hike the AT because…? What did you say?
    September 24, 2012 at 12:57pm via mobile · Like
  • Tante Meredith I’m excited for you. I can’t wait to hear all about it. I used to hike small parts of it with a friend in Virginia when I lived there.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:58pm · Unlike · 1
  • Georgia Mitchell Actually you said, “beginning..” ? Then what.
    September 24, 2012 at 12:58pm via mobile · Like
  • Lori Gonzalez Wow Bunny,, that is amazing news, Coco also did the trail, maybe she can give you tips, we are there with you, lots of love
    September 24, 2012 at 1:01pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Geo, Not sure why it’s not showing up for you but I’ll PM you the rest.
    September 24, 2012 at 1:02pm · Like
  • Linda Houck Bishop How exciting!! Blessings and safe travels  I’m looking forward to reading about your adventure.
    September 24, 2012 at 1:03pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • Phyllis Gorman Go girl!
    September 24, 2012 at 1:03pm · Unlike · 1
  • Donna Mueller Blackman That is fantastic Bunny!!
    September 24, 2012 at 1:04pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer I’ve told my kids my plans but my cousins will be (are!) reading it here. I can just imagine them taking this info back to their mom (my Aunt Charlene) who would probably say “oh yes well ok let me see yes Bunny would do that. yes, uh huh Bunny would do something like that. but oh my goodness! is it safe?”
    September 24, 2012 at 1:06pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Linda Houck Bishop Lol! I could hear her voice in my head saying that!!
    September 24, 2012 at 1:08pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • Gina Liscotti Awwww man! I’m so excited for you! And and … I want to go!!!!
    September 24, 2012 at 1:17pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • Jennifer Curry you Rock!
    September 24, 2012 at 1:38pm · Unlike · 1
  • Elissa Cahn You are a badass Amazon! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures over a cup of coffee on the Land.
    September 24, 2012 at 2:11pm · Unlike · 1
  • Mullein Fyre great!!! but what about michfest? no bunny in 2013?
    September 24, 2012 at 2:13pm · Like
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Mullein … I’ll be there!
    4. Does this mean you’re going to miss fest? 
    Miss my tribe?? Nooooo way! It will take some planning but I should be able to get a ride from the trail in to JFK, fly to GR, and take the shuttle in. I’ll just do the reverse to get back to the trail.
    September 24, 2012 at 2:17pm · Like
  • Mullein Fyre thank goodness you’ll be there!!! you should do a workshop intensive!!!
    September 24, 2012 at 2:18pm · Unlike · 1
  • Karen Durfee You go girl!!!!
    September 24, 2012 at 2:20pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer there are 2 other festies who’ve also thru-hiked the AT, one in ’10 and one in ’08. They’ve been incredibly encouraging! Maybe the 3 of us can do a slide show presentation and panel to answer questions. That would be fun and I’d LOVE to encourage other womyn!
    September 24, 2012 at 2:21pm · Like
  • Mullein Fyre an intensive would get you in for “free”…
    September 24, 2012 at 2:24pm · Like
  • Heather Kohser How wonderful!!! Will you take your dog with you??
    September 24, 2012 at 2:45pm · Like
  • Tina M. Ricard You go women!
    September 24, 2012 at 3:02pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Mullein, true, it would but intensive presenters are workers and do a lot more than 1 intensive workshop. I like being a festie! 
    Heather … probably not. There are parts of the trail where dogs simply are not allowed because of bears. I would have to have someone meet us at the trail, take her and kennel her for several days, and then drive her to meet up with me. There are parts of the trail that are REALLY rough and not safe for doggie feet.


    SOMEWHERE IN VIRGINIA Another hiker on the way up a tricky rock scramble
    September 24, 2012 at 3:07pm · Like · Remove Preview
  • Shae Savoy Fantastic!
    September 24, 2012 at 3:10pm · Unlike · 1
  • Tina M. Ricard I meant womyn!
    September 24, 2012 at 3:11pm · Unlike · 1
  • Jaya Lalita Yay, Bunny! Moving toward the vision!
    September 24, 2012 at 3:20pm · Unlike · 1
  • Beth Burnett That is awesome!! So proud of you… that is way cool!
    September 24, 2012 at 3:26pm · Unlike · 1
  • Abigail Kennedy Where is Trixie going to be while you are away?
    September 24, 2012 at 4:06pm · Like
  • Karen Ludwig Good for you! I have hiked some of the Maine parts and they are steep even when not carrying a pack. The most notorious section was one where I slipped on a rock crossing a creek and fell flat on my ass in the water. Cat laughed until she almost wet herself. Let me know what Maine based support you need. Does Trixie have someone to stay with?
    September 24, 2012 at 4:09pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Trixie will probably stay with my son & daughter-in-law.
    September 24, 2012 at 4:12pm · Like
  • Jsmne LM If you need a stop or a break Im more than willing to come and get your for the night or I may join you for a day or two , with wine in tow ! Thats if you would like company ..
    September 24, 2012 at 4:26pm · Unlike · 1
  • Nisey GB Burton This is the most awesome thing I’ve read in a very long time. I am so excited for you and look forward to reading more about this incredible and brave adventure!
    September 24, 2012 at 4:28pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer ohh Jasmine thank you for the offer! Looking at the map, you might be around 40 miles from the AT? Are you a hiker?
    September 24, 2012 at 4:39pm · Like
  • Jsmne LM Yes, I am .. I can a hike a lil ,but even if its just me spending an evening with you and a warm meal , wine and laughs around a camp fire , its worth it to me ! I can’t hike that much , anymore , but I can give you some company for one evening , make you laugh , provisions or what not , just let me know ! WHAT EVER IT IS , IM THERE FOR YOU! YOU GO GIRL!
    September 24, 2012 at 4:50pm · Unlike · 1
  • Karen Ludwig I bet Trixie could take a bear by the way
    September 24, 2012 at 5:03pm via mobile · Unlike · 2
  • Kevyn Radcliffe You go Girl. You are inspiring.
    September 24, 2012 at 5:15pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Karen … and maybe not! eek!
    Kevyn …
    September 24, 2012 at 5:23pm · Like
  • Falcon River So where do we sign-up for the support Bunny fund??
    September 24, 2012 at 5:51pm · Unlike · 2
  • Robin Blythe-níCatháin “my 60th birthday” no WAY! you’re younger than I am! Damn, girl, you wear it well
    September 24, 2012 at 6:01pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Falcon …  You are so awesome to even make the suggestion. 
    Let me give it some consideration? 
    Since I’ll be giving up my apartment and selling or storing everything, my basic expenses will only be the storage unit, health insurance, and cell phone for probably around $400 a month and I’ve already budgeted for all that. 
    However there are a few things that would make this journey much easier … a really good video camera, finances for a weekly restaurant meal or two and a hostel or cheap motel for the occasional soft bed and SHOWER.
    September 24, 2012 at 6:55pm · Like
  • Uniquely Made I’m SOOOOO proud of you! My sister, Julie Lea Jones, has done part of the trail (about a weeks worth), and said it was an amazing experience that she looks forward to repeating! Maybe you two can meet up? LOL. I admire (and try to embody as I’m able) your adventurous spirit. Keep up the good work girl!
    September 24, 2012 at 7:39pm · Unlike · 1
  • Barb Purple this is great!
    September 24, 2012 at 7:53pm · Unlike · 1
  • Rhiannon Ellis Hart Okay, Gail Mumpton reminded me of some things to mention:

    1. Take self-defense beforehand and be aware of your surroundings. 

    2. Arm yourself somehow: She once had someone follow her for MILES, and she had to pull her knife.

    3. You’re training, right?
    September 24, 2012 at 7:55pm · Unlike · 1
  • Carolyn Gage I did about 350 miles of it back in the day…
    September 24, 2012 at 8:30pm · Unlike · 1
  • Carolyn Gage … and definitely take a gun.
    September 24, 2012 at 8:30pm · Like
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Rhiannon … I am a city kid, quite aware of my surroundings. 
    If someone is hiking in the same direction as I am, one of us will be following the other for miles. and miles and miles.
    I am training! I am pretending the elevator in my building is not working (this gives me 6 flights of stairs), belly dancing (for core strength & flexibility), lifting small weights for some upper body strength, walking 3 level city miles a day and gradually increasing.

    Carolyn, I will not take a gun but I will carry bear spray.

    What happens if you spray a human with bear mace? – Yahoo! Answers

    A friend of mine was wanting some powerful pepper …
    September 24, 2012 at 8:48pm · Like · 1 · Remove Preview
  • Melissa A. Butera we can help you on the self-defense thing..lmk..
    September 24, 2012 at 8:49pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer whatever I learn for self-defense will be only be helpful if it can be done while wearing a backpack.
    September 24, 2012 at 8:50pm · Like
  • Melissa A. Butera no prob..we’ll weigh you down first…you carrying a walking stick?
    September 24, 2012 at 8:51pm · Like
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer hiking poles. not a wooden staff. 
    but it would be freaking awesome fun to fight with a wooden staff!!!
    September 24, 2012 at 8:52pm · Like
  • Melissa A. Butera I got one..even two sticks can work too…have those too..let me know when u want to start..
    September 24, 2012 at 8:55pm · Unlike · 1
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer these are my hiking poles. the image shows them in the shortened carrying position. they are made of lightweight aluminum alloy.
    September 24, 2012 at 8:57pm · Like
  • Melissa A. Butera cant get the image..can u post it to my page?
    September 24, 2012 at 8:59pm · Like
  • Rhiannon Ellis Hart Bunny, then tell the instructor that you need to train with a backpack, or how to shed it immediately.
    September 24, 2012 at 9:15pm · Unlike · 1
  • Dawn Lingo That’s soo cool!
    September 24, 2012 at 11:33pm · Unlike · 1
  • Ironwomyn Tri That’s awesome! Let me know if you want company as you come through the DMV area (dc/md/va).
    September 25, 2012 at 8:20am · Unlike · 1
  • Carolyn Hayes Yeah -I’ll hike some with you and bring you food!
    September 25, 2012 at 5:50pm · Unlike · 2
  • Tina Marple That”s pretty amazing good luck to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    September 25, 2012 at 8:30pm · Unlike · 1
  • Courtenay Weinkauf So proud of you.
    September 25, 2012 at 10:28pm · Unlike · 1
  • Roza Eisenman · Friends with Cathie Timian and 28 others

    That’s really Cool, Bunny…. Good for you to make such an interesting 60th AdVenture…
    September 25, 2012 at 11:48pm · Unlike · 1
  • Toni Marie Wood-Caudill Bunny, that is amazing! I look forward to hiking virtually with you!
    September 26, 2012 at 10:16am · Unlike · 1
  • Erin Ireland That’s my dream, too. I have some good books about the journey I could lend you, if you haven’t already read them.
    September 26, 2012 at 10:45am · Unlike · 1
  • Cathy Brennan if you get into any trouble, you call me.
    September 26, 2012 at 11:51am · Unlike · 1
  • Ironwomyn Tri Just in time for your epic adventure, Amazon is developing a program to put lockers in 7-eleven stores, where you can pick up online orders!

    Amazon’s new drop-off spot: 7-Eleven?

    Who’s up for “Moby Dick” and a Slurpee?Amazon appears to be developing a program…See More
    September 26, 2012 at 2:20pm · Unlike · 1 · Remove Preview
  • Jennifer Springstead Have you read A Walk in The Woods by Bill Bryson?
    September 26, 2012 at 4:47pm · Like
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer actually Jennifer, I have not read that book.  There are sooo many Appalachian Trail books (as well as books on other trails!) that I’ve had to prioritize them as far as helpfulness to get me ready and that one, while one of the most well-known and entertaining, just didn’t make the list.
    September 27, 2012 at 1:09am · Edited · Like
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer well Grace ….. this adventure would not have been possible except life had handed me an armful of lemons so I’m doing what Amazons do … I’m making lemonade!
    September 27, 2012 at 1:09am · Like · 3
  • Bunny Smiley Kramer Ironwomyn… I will look into this! Thanks for the heads up!
    September 27, 2012 at 1:13am · Like
  • Phyllis Gorman Good for you. Let fiercely independent take you where you need/want to go.
    September 27, 2012 at 3:55am · Unlike · 1
  • Valerie Reynolds awesome!
    September 27, 2012 at 6:43am · Unlike · 1
  • Rosalind A. Griffin Skinner You are amazing. This is amazing. You will do and feel amazing while doing it. Hiking the AT is amazing I’ve heard! Can’t wait to hear all about it, and be sure to share a ton while you’re prepping as well!! So excited for you!
    September 27, 2012 at 10:02am · Unlike · 2

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