Hey all, long time no blog post. As you know, 2020 was a whirlwind of a year. I quit my job, sold my car, got rid of my apartment, started hiking the Appalachian Trail, and as I left off in my last post, cried as I had to give up my dream due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This post is meant to update you all on how my year has gone and what my plans are for 2021. 

When I got off-trail, I still had hope that after the two week quarantine things would go back to normal and I could get back on. Obviously that wasn’t the case. Instead, I decided to take a travel nurse job in a COVID field hospital. I worked there for 6 weeks and then spent another 4 weeks in the hospital helping out in all the units including the COVID ones. I learned what this pandemic really was and it solidified the fact that I made the right decision to get off trail. 

While working in the COVID field hospital, I got this crazy idea stuck in my head: I wanted to live in a van. About a week later, I looked at a van and a week after that I purchased it and took it home. My sister, dad, and I then spent about a month renovating it so that it would be ready for me to live in full time. 

After this I took two months off from working. To be honest I was burnt out, as are many nurses I know working during this pandemic. I am privileged to be able to take this time off and it was much needed. 

In these two months I completed: 

  • The Northeast 67 4k footers: hiking all of the Maine peaks in two weeks. 
  • Then I decided to do something crazy and I completed the NH 48 Direttissima in less than 11 days. This was about 250miles, with an average of 22miles a day. I was wrecked and lost a toenail (don’t worry, it’s almost grown back). 
  • Lastly, I completed the Terrifying 25 trails in NH just in time to take a travel nurse assignment in Virginia. 

While in Virginia, I made some amazing friends and even got a dog…KEIKO! He is a menace but I love him. I also completed a few hiking lists down south: one in North Carolina called South beyond 6k feet and one in Virginia called the 5 peaks above 5k. I even hiked the 24mile Virginia triple crown in a day! I have truly grown to love Virginia and the people here and I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I left. I always said I wouldn’t extend somewhere, but this place felt like home and it was nice spending the holidays with people I know and love. I will truly miss my friends and my amazing coworkers. It was rough with COVID numbers on the rise while I was there and we really felt it. I sure hope that things settle down for them and for all the other healthcare workers. 

On the bright side I am fully vaccinated against COVID!

“So what’s your plan next?”, you ask. I get this question a lot. Well, it is still my dream to hike the Appalachian Trail…but with COVID being worse than it was when I got off-trail last year and watching all the Facebook sites this year is going to be overrun with AT thru-hikers, I don’t feel morally right contributing to the problem. So unless things change in the next week (unlikely) for the better with vaccinations I will not be hiking the AT NOBO in 2021. Instead, I have decided to hike a couple shorter thru-hikes and I couldn’t be more excited! My goal for 2021 is to just have fun and enjoy my life. All of this starts March 22nd when Keiko and I, with the accompaniment of my friend Corey and his dog Loki will be stepping on the 335 mile Pinhoti trail! If that wasn’t long enough, we figured why not jump on the 290 mile Benton Mackaye trail after? Oh yeah, I also have a couple more fun adventures up my sleeve! 


Anyways, I hope you enjoy following my adventures in the next couple months and consider donating to my charities. My goal is $8500 and I hope to meet that goal by the end of my trip. Thanks in advance for your generous donations!

Donate to Scholarship here: https://glcf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=2456

Donate to Women’s Shelters here: https://glcf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=2455

Venmo: Nicole-Hamel-1

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