“My name is Justin Tucker and my pronouns are he/him/his. I’m 29 years old and was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. Though I was a very athletic kid who played multiple sports, I was never encouraged to do more exploring outdoors, and therefore was a complete stranger to activities such as hiking and camping while growing up. That would change upon reaching my mid-twenties. After graduating college and struggling to navigate the fast-paced New York City lifestyle, I would be met with the biggest challenge of my life following the unexpected suicide of a close friend in 2018. Extreme sadness and depression took hold of me, which I still struggle with to this day. It was during that difficult time where I learned about the Appalachian Trail and decided that I would one day thru-hike it.
The loss of my friend completely changed my view of life as well as how I want to exist in this world. In spite of the sadness and depression I’ve faced, his memory has motivated me to put more effort toward stepping outside of my comfort zone, which is part of the reason why I am taking on this challenge. I see this thru-hike as an opportunity to heal from the pain I’ve endured, to test my physical and mental toughness, as well as to envision a brighter future for myself. The trail is what I now consider home, and it is my hope that making myself visible in this space will encourage others with a similar story and similar struggles to pursue their own adventure.”