Adjusting to Life on the Appalachian Trail
Our first week on the trail was SO awesome! It’s funny, one of our moms asked us if it (hiking the Appalachian Trail) was as hard as we thought it would be. The answer is yes – but it was also easier, more fun, more rocky, more free, and more everything than we thought at the same time. We have been really fortunate to meet some cool people so far! So far we have met Ru, Wasabi, Gnome, Nick, Bryan, and Dirtbag.
The most difficult things for us so far has been finding an efficient routine, understanding how much water to carry based on the difficulty of the days hike and while considering the upcoming water sources, and finding comfort in our tent before bed – what do you do after hiking 8-10 hours and are tired but not sleepy and it’s dark out? Hopefully our bodies will be ready to fall asleep, and stay asleep, around 7 pm soon.
Our guidebook has been a huge help. It took us a while to fully understand it but it provides the necessary information we need to plan our upcoming day. As cooks, we would have a meeting everyday where the whole kitchen came together and talked about that nights service. We would know how many people were eating that night, if there were any allergies, any aversions to certain foods, what time they were coming, if they were VIP’s, and if they had dined with us before. This information would tell us the amount of prep we needed to do for that day. Instead of prepping for a dinner service, we are understanding what kind of terrain we will be facing. We were taught to control the situation to our advantage as much as possible so we take that same attitude to hiking up and down mountains.
The first day was tough, really tough. We heard from a few people that left before us how hard the approach trail was but there is nothing that could have prepared us to hike it. We may have stopped 50 times that day for air? To us, the approach trail was a way of “paying our dues”, it hurt, but we would do it again if we had to. We hiked to Springer Mountain shelter and made camp near the stream. We tried to make a campfire but failed. At least the next person had a huge pile of wood if they were able get one going.
Our second day on the trail we took a side trail to Long Creek Falls and had lunch. We may or may not have partaken in herbal practices with our feet in the cold mountain water. The views were amazing! That night we stayed at Hawk Mountain campsite and experienced our first rainstorm. The water source at that campsite is all the way down the mountain so we wouldn’t recommend forgetting anything like we did. We maybe made three extra trips up and down that mountain for items like but not limited to a lighter, wipes, and the stove. We were made fun of each time we passed the other hikers who were comfortable in their tents and 100% deserved it. We even got to a point where we took turns going back to camp for things so we wouldn’t get made fun of together. Sleeping in the rain that night wasn’t bad, it was actually pretty peaceful hearing it hit our tent.
The third day had us frustrated early on. We woke up around 7 and could feel the condensation from the night before on the inside of our tent. A large bowl after breakfast did our souls well and by the time we left camp our attitudes took a turn to positive town. The hiking that day was pretty tough early on. We got to Sassafrass Mountain just under two hours into our hike. The fog was pretty intense and the dew was so thick it felt like a constant mist. There was what seemed to be a fifty foot flat ground between the base of that mountain and Justus Mountain. As soon as we were down Sassafrass we were climbing up Justus. We earned a really cool lunch spot at Justus Creek. The water was delicious! We ate and soaked our feet for a couple minutes and were on our way to Gooch Gap. We found a really cool solo campsite just above a stream and were able to air out every piece of gear. The campsite was so secluded that we were able to hang our full water filter up and take a full Dr. Bronners shower and air dry while standing on our z-seat. We slept pretty well this night.
The fourth day was our hardest so far. We got up early knew we had the potential to get to Neel Gap that day if we pushed, so we did. We hiked for eight hours and only stopped to scarf down a protein bar at the base of Blood Mountain. We were really unlucky with water this day. There were three straight sources we tried that totaled maybe a mile of extra hiking that were completely dried up. Slaughter Creek Trail was the exact spot we stopped for our bars and we won’t name names, but someone said they are not hiking “down a mountain for no water”, so we skipped that source and hiked up Blood Mountain. She fully admitted to being wrong when we got to town and learned from a few hikers how beautiful of a water source it was. The hike up Blood Mountain was almost as difficult as the hike down. The views were the best we’ve seen so far, unfortunately our phones and GoPro were dead at this point. We limped into town after a 14 mile day that was topped off with us running out of water with two miles left in our hike. We made it to Mountain Crossings by 4:30 and bought some snacks and learned Cabins could be rented just down the road. We will never forget the feeling of overwhelming joy seeing our cabin while holding fresh pizza and knowing a hot shower was waiting.
We’ve stayed here Blood Mountain Cabins for the last two days resting. We also heard that there was a little hiker gathering here at Mountain Crossings that was worth staying for. We haven’t done anything but hang out at the gear shop and eat pizza that they cook fresh here in the main cabin. Full disclosure, we’ve eaten nine pizzas in three days. Do yourself a favor a stay here. They offer a discounted rate to thru hikers and the cabins are so cozy. We will definitely be back after this is over for a romantic get away.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far and to the so many new friends we are meeting along the way! We try to post a picture from every day on our Instagram, @twocookstakeawalk. Your love and kind words mean the world to us. Thank you also for the encouragement! We hope to be in Hiswasee in four days so we’ll be up bright and early! Talk to you soon!
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