An Act of Contrition and Faulty Assumptions
This is hard for me to admit so I’m just gonna spit it out. Rip the Band-Aid off.
I blue blazed and bypassed 25ish miles of the trail.
There. I said it. I have an overwhelming sense of guilt, I can’t look other thru-hikers in the eye. I’m so ashamed. I feel like a cheater. And like all cheaters before me, I have to say that it wasn’t really my fault!
Between my raincoat breaking just before a possible rain/snow/hail storm, the disintegration of my trail runners and the general inadequacy of my tent (more on these below), I needed to get into town and replace some gear, tout suite. As it turned out the forest service roads are still closed for winter and my best chance to get to a road involved a three-mile slog through a swampy riverbed the locals refer to as Kimsey Creek.
I did eventually make it to Rock Gap and was rescued by Solace and driven straight to Baltimore Jack’s Place hostel. I dropped some cash at Three Eagles Outfitters on the recommendation from Atlas from Top of Georgia and got back on trail where I’d been picked up and went on my merry way.
I missed the 100-mile marker. I missed the hailstorm and the tower everyone climbed but me. Maybe in another life I will return and do that part of the trail, but for now I forgive myself that walk of shame and my penance is a two-day layover to wait for my resupply.
Assumption #1: Guthook, Gaia, AWOL guide with the pocket maps, and Google would be sufficient navigational tools.
Actual: None of those show any of the non-AT trails, and Google Maps is useless without cell service. I was just a blob in a sea of green blindly following blue blazes and praying they led me somewhere. I have now purchased a “real map” and will continue to keep one with me at all times on trail.
Assumption #2: Altra trail runners would be sufficient since they are marketed for the AT.
Actual: I knew I’d need to replace them a few times over the course of 2,200 miles, but not after 60 miles. Not only were they falling apart but the foot, ankle, and achilles pain I was experiencing was unreal. The folks at Three Eagles Outfitters set me up with some Keens and my feet are much happier now.
Assumption #3: The Big Agnes Copper Spur tent would keep me dry in a rainstorm.
Actual: To be clear, the tent didn’t leak. But the condensation buildup created a swamp inside the tent, and my down sleeping bag and all the things on the floor of the tent were soaked. Mike sent me our MSR Hubba Hubba that I already know will survive in the rain so I will be sending home the Big Agnes.
Assumption #4: My favorite Patagonia raincoat would last the duration of the hike.
Actual: The jacket lasted exactly five days before the zipper broke off. Once again, Three Eagles to the rescue and now I am the proud owner of a Marmot Precip, which coincidently is the same brand as my rain pants.
I took a zero today and made my way back to Franklin from NOC while waiting for my resupply but I’ll head back up and get back on trail tomorrow.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.