8 Things You Do (hopefully) Only Once While Hiking The AT

Let me preface this by assuring you that this list is not exhaustive and that I have experienced each of them at least once.

1. Underestimate the snap of a tent pole. If you are sleepy in the morning while taking down your tent, please remember the power behind those bad boys. Careless handling could result in a quick slap to the face, and I assure you that is no way to wake up.

2. Carry only enough water until the next water source. Everyone will tell you this and you will still do it. There is even a page in AWOL’s guide that reminds you of it while out hiking. At some point you may find yourself waterless and far from the next source. When your dogs are looking at you like you’re about to win the worst dog parent ever award, remember you were warned by everyone. Lucky for me people are awesome and trail angels do exist.

3. Climb to the summit leaving town and realize you have no fuel. Especially try not to do this leaving Hot Springs because you’ll likely be packing out close to a weeks worth of food. And then you’ll have to carry it all the way to Erwin because you can’t cook it. Lucky for me again, people are awesome.

4. Carry way too much food. There is skill involved in resupplying most efficiently. When you reach your resupply location with a couple days of food remaining you will remember to never do it again. Food is heavy. Really really heavy. I would suggest eating a large meal before resupplying to help with this.

5. Not carry enough food. Alternatively you may find yourself eating spoonfuls of peanut butter for dinner if you underestimate your increasing hiker appetite. Peanut butter is good, but not that good.

6. Assume a 20% chance of rain means the odds are ever in your favor. They aren’t, trust me. Any % chance means 100% chance out here on the AT. Generally speaking those rain showers occur either for many days without relenting, perhaps even for a week straight, or alternatively they will start during the last hour of your hike to ensure all of your clothes will be soaked for the next morning, and, in my case, to also make sure that the smell of wet dog will be stronger than my own backwoods scent. Let me clarify also that rain doesn’t come in the form of warm, light showers to cool you off on a hot day. Mother nature much prefers torrential downpours, sometimes even hail, combined with chilly evenings to remind you that you are but a mere speck from her view and that hypothermia is real and exponentially more scary than bears. And lightning, that is also more scary than bears.

7. Place your hiking shoes directly under the runoff of your tent’s rain fly during a storm. It doesn’t make for a great start to the morning. Thank goodness for quick drying trail runners!

8. Underestimate what it takes to counter the weight of your pack when sitting, squatting down, bending over, standing back up. It takes real skill to master the technique and I would suggest practicing in the presence of no one else until you feel very confident in your abilities.

*Bonus #9 thanks to fellow Trials blogger, Squirt* Choose your bathroom break real estate wisely. Pooping in the woods is a topic all its own, but try to avoid choosing sloping locations that would make rolling downhill probable. Heading far from the trail does no good in this situation.

Happy Hiking!

Two Dogs, Mooch & Diva


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Comments 2

  • Math11235 : May 22nd

    Love this! I’ve done most of these at one point or another 🙂

  • Nelson Fields : May 22nd

    I have a friend that completed the AT in 2012 and was quite convinced about the health of the “Hiroshima” dump……..from up in trees.


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