A Burnt Stove, Clumsiness, and Rain Goddess

It’s been a great 4 days, but of course, everyone has trials and tribulations along the trail. Mine just so happened to start during my very first night while camped out at the Springer shelter.

I can’t tell you how many times I have lit a Jetboil stove. Probably at least a thousand times, if not more. I’ve never failed to have a warm dinner at night or hot coffee in the morning… but something didn’t seem quite right while attaching my fuel canister. I heard a little hiss, but didn’t realize how much fuel was released until I made the careless mistake of lighting it. Poof! It went up in flames melting the entire stove section. Another guy and I made sure the fire was being kept contained while I had no choice but to just let the fuel burn out on its out. Fortunately, other hikers have been so kind to let me use their stoves and fuel until I can obtain another one. I haven’t had to go without boiling water at all.

The first night was extremely cold with below freezing temperatures, but my 20° sleeping bag and puffy jacket were enough to keep me warm.

I slept in on my first official day of hiking which meant I was doing some deep snoozing in the comfort of my new one person tent (a thank you to my husband). After relaxing and stretching a bit, I noticed I can still pack up camp in less than 20 minutes and became impressed with myself. I set off for my first official miles of 2023 and that’s when I became not so impressed with myself.

I have become the utter most clumsiest hiker ever! My footing was all wrong and I just couldn’t get my steps right if I wanted. There were no falls, but I came close. I finished off my 2015 thru-hike with a fall while hiking back down Katahdin and really didn’t want to start this year’s hike picking up with another fall. 

I decided on beginning with extremely short days first since I’m so out of shape, so I only hiked to Stover Creek which was the next shelter. I was all alone for a while just collecting my thoughts when suddenly I was greeted by several other hikers who were going to spend the night as well. We all had a great time that night laughing around a fire we could barely get lit. I met many great hikers and can’t wait to see them up and down the trail.

We all woke up to rain, nasty cold rain! Many of us procrastinated packing up, so it was going to be a short day to Hawk Mountain Shelter.

I set off alone and hiked along into the fog while the rain had no mercy. I kept alternating from warm to cold and eventually everything was drenched. I finally got into a groove with my footing until the trail became extremely soggy. My feet were sticking to the mud, causing my steps to get heavier and I had what felt like 10lbs of rain water soaking into my pack. My pack cover just wasn’t doing the trick but made me thankful I packed everything inside dry sacks. My pace wasn’t bad at all and it was one of the easier sections to hike, so I got to Hawk Mountain at a decent time.

I set up my tent, put on dry clothes, and caught up with a lot of hikers from the night before. We congregated in the shelter and a topic that came up was when the rain was supposed to end. Hikers checked their phone and every forecast said 4pm. I looked off into the distance and didn’t buy it. I warned that the rain would probably go on into the night. It appeared that I was actually right. By the next morning, everyone at the shelter began calling me “Rain God” and asked me what the weather would be. It was going to be a bright and glorious day, which it turned out to be. I had no problem adopting a new trail name. I dropped 2015’s “Sarge” by choice because I no longer felt I fit the title and had just been introducing myself by my surname.

With day 3 came the first challenge of the trail, which is Sassafras Mountain. Sassafras definitely kicked my…. The weather was perfect, but I found myself stopping every 20 feet to catch my breath and rest my quads. I had a nice break speaking with a ridge runner, then ran into a friend who had just injured herself. I was going to let her hike ahead of me in case she needed to stealth, she wouldn’t be camping alone. She somehow got way far ahead of me because as soon as my quads quit struggling down Sassafras, she was not at the gap where I planned to camp. 

I went ahead and set up camp at the Gap where 5 different hikers later joined me. I was very nervous about my water situation because I could feel the start of dehydration and I only had half a liter to last the night and morning with the next water source being 2 miles away. Suddenly… trail magic showed up and Grandpa supplied all of us with bottled waters! I was grateful and gladly drank an entire bottle at once.

The next day was a struggle, but I made it and then decided it was time for a hostel.

I stumbled across a brand new hostel called Hidden Ponds Hostel. I’ll write a whole different post about this amazing hostel in Suches, GA.

At Hidden Pond, I finally met a trail legend named Nimrod. He shared many stories with us about his previous thru-hikes starting in 1975. 

A hiker named “Guns” and Nimrod both questioned why the other hikers wanted to call me Rain God and not Rain Goddess? So, there it was. I was officially deemed trail name “Rain Goddess” by Guns and Nimrod.

 It is now day 4 and I’m taking a zero and foam rolling my quads and calves periodly to alleviate some of the soreness. Something I’ve noticed this year compared to 2015 is that hikers are way faster and have a lot more physical endurance. I assumed I could easily make it from shelter to shelter with the rest. That’s not true. I’ll get better and faster with each day and this time I’m listening to my body for when it’s time to rest.

Signing out for now, Rain Goddess.

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Comments 6

  • Jeremiah uber : Mar 25th

    Is it necessary to denote “the Springer shelter” if there is no other shelter at Springer mountain? The beginning of something should also be the first; to use them both in describing an event seems redundant. “Utter most” in the context you’re using it is one word. “Atleast” should have a space. Realeased has too many vowels. “Another guy” implies there was a first guy. Where is the first guy? “Out on its out” doesn’t make sense: one can’t imply ownership of a verb. “Hikers and few” ? I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean. A colon would work well before “a nasty cold rain;” or you can just keep the comma if you don’t mind a lack of precision. “My” is a better way to show the feet are yours. Was there a community phone the hikers were sharing? When writing it’s good grammar to use text for numerals for numbers less than 10, and digits for numbers over 10. Why does “Guns” have quotes but none of the other trail names do? “Sorness” is missing an “E.” “That’s not true” is incomplete without the previous sentence: a semicolon might bring it all together. Psychoanalyze is one word. There are probably more opportunities for improvement; I didn’t really dig into the text: just a brief skim.

    PS: I doubt this comment will be approved, because I don’t think anyone in the Trek’s editorial team has enough skill to locate and correct the errors. If the team possessed such skill they’d choose writers that hike instead of hikers that can’t. In letting this article stand in it’s current form you’re making “The Trek” and the author look poorly educated.

    • Sir Renity : Mar 26th


    • Bluewhale : Mar 26th

      I spent much of my career with the evaluation of artifacts related to the development of large, one of a kind systems (e.g., International Space Station). If someone who worked for me wrote an evaluation such as yours, I’d reject the comments and suggest (strongly) that they go find another profession. Documents are meant to convey an appropriate level of information for the target audience. You clearly don’t understand that point. Rather than provide constructive, encouraging thoughts, you simply choose to belittle the author, and in the process show how inconsequential your contributions really are.
      P.S. Next time you provide inputs I suggest you type them on your phone, in below freezing temperatures, in the dark after hiking all day.

    • Kachina : Mar 27th


  • Grandpa Hodag : Mar 26th

    Nimrod took good care of me last year at ATC Hostel. Thank you for letting us know his location. Godspeed north!

  • Sir Lostalot : Mar 27th

    I l think the guy who critiqued your grammar is just jealous because he isn’t out there too. As the Romans said, nil illegimeti carborundum. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Write on.


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