Solo

Can you be strong, independent and capable — and still need help?

 Jen Kinney on the Mountain To Sea Trail. (Photo by Jen Kinney)

Jen Kinney on the Mountain To Sea Trail. (Photo by Jen Kinney)

Jen Kinney wanted to be a strong, independent woman. She had just split up with her long-term partner, and she felt a powerful need to prove that she was capable — that she could make it by herself — that she could meet her own needs.

So she decided to take herself backpacking. Alone. 

She picked a 50-mile stretch of the Mountain To Sea Trail in North Carolina, and began planning meticulously. She worked through all the logistics, assembled her gear, packed everything she would need to provide for herself.

But what happened to her out in the mountains did not make her feel strong or capable. At least not right away.

The trip might not have been what she bargained for. But it left her with an important life lesson — a new understanding of what it means to take care of yourself.


I think of myself as an independent person. In fact, if you asked my ex, he might say it was actually a problem in our relationship. He would try to help me out with some simple task, and I would tell him, ‘No, I can do that myself.’
— Jen Kinney