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Beyond Our Boundaries: A Family Backpacking Video Series of Their AT Thru-Hike


By Damien Tougas,
Here we are, less than three months before we hit the trailhead at Springer Mountain, and things are a little crazy. Amidst gear preparation, a Kickstarter campaign launch, and daily family life, I sometimes wonder how it was we got to this point. It certainly didn’t happen overnight.

The seed was planted

One of the benefits of talking crazy ideas when you know it isn’t possible in the present circumstances, is that you feel comfortable talking freely. That’s how it was when my wife (Renee) and I first started talking about doing a family thru-hike of the AT. In our life situation at the time, Renee knew that if she said she would do it I couldn’t take her to task the following month – that it would take years before a thru-hike could remotely become a possibility. The seed, however, was planted.


Not if, but when

With time, the words we used to talk about thru-hiking slowly transformed from “if we do it” to “when we do it”. I think the first person to use the phrase “when we thru-hike the AT…” was my oldest daughter. Somewhere along the way we became comfortable with the idea, and that comfort had found it’s way into our vocabulary. The conversation was bigger than just thru-hiking though, it was about how we as a family could structure our lives such that a thru-hike could actually work. It became a conversation about freedom: how could we gain the freedom to take on a project like this?

Life changing

We both wanted more freedom, and we felt that this was the key to being able to follow our passions and do adventurous things as a family – whether it was thru-hiking the AT or doing something completely different. This desire for freedom became the catalyst for a big life change: a downsizing, a move from the USA back to Canada (we are Canadians), and a transition from salaried work to self employment. This was a huge undertaking. We are still feeling the repercussions of the move over two years later.


A year after the move, once the dust started to settle a little, we decided that it was time to put our AT thru-hike on the calendar. We set a date for two years into the future – far enough that neither of us would panic. And that brings us to the present day, on the verge of panic. This adventure, coupled with the fact that we are producing a video series is stretching us all in new ways… pushing us beyond our boundaries. 2014 is going to be one wild ride!


Kickstarter Project

The goal of this Kickstarter project is to create an online video series about a family of five thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. The series will be filmed, edited, and published as it happens; starting with trip preparations in early 2014 and concluding with post-hike re-entry late in the fall.

We’ve been preparing for our family thru-hike for a long time now. Years actually. Saving money, buying gear, and setting up our life so we can take six months to do a long hike. Creating a video series of our hike takes gear and trip preparation to a whole different level. It requires equipment, technology, logistics, and the services of talented people.

We’re not asking you to fund our AT thru-hike. We’re asking you to help us produce a video series of our AT thru-hike.┬áIf you would like to help fund the production of our AT thru-hike video series and make this amazing family adventure possible, please consider making a pledge at a funding level that suits your budget > Beyond Our Boundaries: A Family Backpacking Video Series

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  • Thanks Brian for sharing our project with your readers.

    This was the first I read this (I usually edit most of Damien’s writing) and I’m gaining insight into his sneaky operations ;) Not really, I know how he works, and he knows how I work. He throws out ideas all the time. I freak out and say, “we could never…” and then eventually I warm up to the best of those ideas and the rest, well, let’s just say some ideas aren’t meant to be anything more than ideas :)

    But getting ideas out there and being able to talk about them in a non-threatening way is a really important part of doing cool things as a family. You’ve got to dream it up first!

    And yes, like Damien says, it’s kind of panic mode around here some days :)

    • Ha! You are more than welcome. Let’s make this great adventure happen so that the entire backpacking and hiking communities will benefit.

  • Karen

    To all of you, including those setting out on this hike, please take time to become aware of ticks, where they hang out (outside and on your body), how to properly remove them (carry a tick removal device and learn how to do so properly…Improper removal can make for a long difficult time recovering), how to preserve the tick for testing, where to test, and how to treat with a Lyme Literate Physician. I was a backpacker. It is not likely I will ever do so again though I’m relatively young. Lyme is a real and present danger. Make doing ‘tick checks’ routine while you are out and about and when you come in as well. I have trip envy….this sounds like a phenomenal time. Enjoy and be safe.

    • Great words of advice Karen, and I hope they were not learned by you contracting #Lyme disease. My preferred tick removal device of choice is the Tick Key (review here). In order to make carrying the Tick Key with me all the time, I hacked it smaller so that it would fit into my #FAK more easily.

      • Karen

        Brain, Yes those words are based on experience. I very much enjoy your blog though reading it is largely reading fantasy for me these days. On the up side, I have a phenomenal LLD and have responded well to treatment. Unfortunately, knees do not regenerate.