By: Alyssa Foster
A former IU South Bend student is currently making progress on her goal of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.
Lois Frey, a December 2021 graduate, began her journey at the end of March and is set to continue her hike through the trail into the fall.
The trail begins at its southern point at Springer Mountain, Ga. and travels north to Katahdin, Maine. The entire Appalachian Trail is over 2,100 miles of various land conditions.
“It will take about six months, planning to hike 10 to 15 miles a day and slowly build up to 20 miles with occasional zero days. A zero is when you don’t hike any,” Frey said.
Frey worked on her studies and graduated a semester early in order to start the trail on time. Prior to beginning the hike, she completed extensive training and preparation, including Jiu Jitsu training.
“She was diligent in her training, often spending Friday nights at McGuin Jiu Jitsu’s women’s self defense classes and four hours every Sunday with a room full of men who compete in different realms of martial arts,” Blake Rodgers, one of Frey’s trainers, said.
Life while hiking the Appalachian Trail is quite different from life back home. Though Frey said she has occasional opportunities to visit small towns on her trek through, the days and nights spent on the trail must be prepared for. From sleeping at night to making meals, she has had to adjust to much different living conditions.
“I sleep in either a shelter or in my tent. I have a sleep pad that I blow up, a blow-up pillow and a 20-degree sleeping bag,” Frey said.
Frey explained that she can eat anything that is dehydrated as well as anything that water can be added to. Knorr brand sides, like rice and pastas, are a frequent dinner for her, as well as granola and protein bars that are over 200 calories.
While the journey along the Appalachian Trail is very impressive, it is also quite expensive, according to Frey: the estimated price of hiking the trail is around $1,000 per month. She has created a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of her purchased equipment as well as to cover the costs of the monthly expenses.
Frey said she had to purchase around $3,000 worth of gear for her hike prior to beginning. She travels with minimal supplies, but she carries necessary items for life in the trail’s conditions.
“Really the only ‘safety’ equipment I have is a Garmin inReach Mini – like a satellite phone – which I’ve realized really isn’t needed,” Frey said. She also carries mace, a knife, a water filter and other necessities for daily life.
“Lois is embarking on a journey of a lifetime on the Appalachian Trail, and we all feel that her technique and intellect obtained in her time training with us gives her an added layer of protection,” Rodgers said.
Because of her consistent dedication and hard work, Frey has gained several supporters. Her strength and willingness to take on such a difficult task has amazed many.
She has begun using her Instagram as a platform for updates on her experience. Her page can be found @lois.frey, and her GoFundMe link is in her bio for those wanting to learn more or help fund her expedition.
Hikers are encouraged to complete all necessary training before attempting to hike the trail. Information regarding weather hazards, crime prevention, river and stream crossings, wildlife and first aid is available on appalachiantrail.org.
Photo // Lois Frey