Want to document and share your hike with friends and family?
Hello everyone, I am alive and well in Hiawassee, Georgia at mile 52.5 where I am staying in a motel room with a cold beer next to me. I had to come into town earlier than expected as there was a hole in my sleeping pad last night, which made for a rough night of sleep on the cold ground. Thankfully the man who shuttled me into the hostel was able to super glue a patch over the hole, saving me from having to buy a new one. While I greatly appreciated the help, my new acquaintance had some extremely hot takes/rants on Covid and the world in general. In the interest of being politically correct on this journal, one may describe this individual as a combination of the color of a Manchester United jersey and the body part above your torso but below your head. I haven’t journaled in the last few days as I have been busy hiking and have been getting into camp around 6 o’clock, 45 minutes before the sun sets. I’ve gotten off to a good start, hiking 16.5, 19, and 10 miles in the last 3 days. I will slow down now and take 4 days to reach my next resupply stop which is in Franklin, North Carolina about 57 trail miles away. My body is adjusting well to my pace and I only have a few blisters on my left foot and sore shoulders as a result. I had my first experience with trail magic yesterday when an elderly man parked at a road crossing gave me a banana and an orange which were much appreciated as I hadn’t eaten fresh food in 3 days. The elderly gentleman said that he had been doing this for many years and had met thru hikers that came from all over the world. While I wanted to chat some more as he seemed interesting, I didn’t as I was in a rush to get to camp before sunset. (“Trail magic” is when a local or “trail angel” performs a random act of kindness for hikers, usually in the form of food or drink). I crossed into Neel gap yesterday at mile 31.3. Neel gap is the first major road crossing with a store for resupply and a hostel. It’s infamous for hikers ending their hike early here. Right outside of the store there are three tall trees with hiking boots hanging on it(pictured above). When a hiker quits here it is tradition that they leave their boots for the employees of the store to hang them on the trees. 1 in 5 people who attempt a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail will succeed. From the outside looking in it’s very hard to understand how people who have planned for many months/years, who have quit their jobs, and saved up thousands of dollars to do this hike stop so early on. I always thought that it was crazy that the percentage of success could be so low. Now I think the reverse. The irony is that hiking is the easiest part of a thru hike. The grueling part of thru hiking is dealing with things like unpreparedness, injury management, unrealistic expectations, not being able to sleep on a cold night, dealing with your own thoughts when you’re alone for an extended period of time every day, losing or having gear break, being rained on for multiple days at a time, contracting norovirus, being months away from your final destination, boredom, and loneliness. These are usually the obstacles that can eat away at people untill they eventually succumb. I am not writing this to set the groundwork for backing out of my hike, nor attempting to blow the difficulty level out of proportion, but rather trying to explain the feeling of humility I got from looking at that tree at Neel Gap yesterday.
P.s. My mother is giving me a hard time over the grammar used in my journals, hope this won was better mum!