Bly Gap -> Franklin, NC

For the past three days, my friends and I have been stuck at Bly Gap for what seems like an eternity. Each one of us managed to contract norovirus, so needless to say we’ve had a very eventful few days, but we’ve made it to North Carolina, so there’s that!

On a less exciting note, it’s been two weeks into my thru-hike, and I’ve done significantly fewer miles than I’d expected I would be doing at this point. Also, I’ve gone into town four times already so my wallet is feeling a tad bit sore. I was expecting to spend the most money in my first few weeks on the trail (switching out gear for different gear, zero days, etc.), but it still hurts. I’m hoping this feeling is somewhat normal at this stage of a thru-hike, but it’s definitely frustrating and a little discouraging. Even more frustrating was that we couldn’t leave Bly Gap for as long as all four of us were sick (three days) but luckily we have 14 weeks of immunity to look forward to.

As a solo hiker, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that it’s one thing to be alone in a comfortable environment, but it’s an entirely different thing to be alone in an uncomfortable/new environment. Being alone out here is now unimaginable after creating the friendships I have now, and after creating a trail family I’m realizing that my purpose for thru-hiking is changing. We hike alone during the day, but we meet for lunch, and come together again at the end of each day. Without these moments of community, I would be lost. For the one day I split up from my trail family, I kept thinking about how Katadhin wouldn’t mean as much to me if I didn’t have someone to share that accomplishment with. I thought that accomplishing a goal as big as Katadhin would mean more to me if I did it on my own, but I’ve been learning the hard way that the journey really does matter sometimes even more than reaching the goal. I feel lucky to have my trail family. We encourage each other to keep going especially on days that SUCK.

Trail fam reaching the 100-mile mark on Albert Mountain.

Trail Angels Are Everywhere

A few days ago, we stopped into Franklin for a resupply day, and a nearby church was offering a free all-you-can-eat breakfast for thru-hikers. Of course we stopped by, and we were able to have our picture taken and sent home to our families FOR FREE. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to hike the AT was that I wanted to be around a different sector of society. The AT lifestyle is what I wish everyday life could be like. I wish people were as curious and interested in others as they are on the trail. People learn how to appreciate and are more mindful. A man gave us a chocolate bar because we created more room in the shelter for him to sleep during a thunderstorm. Living outside of the everyday societal bubble helps to balance people’s perspective and I think everyone should experience how raw life can be out here. Nothing but you, your backpack, and the experiences you choose to create.

P.S. Some advice that’s been floating around the trail that I figured I’d spread: Never quit on a bad day. That advice will probably stick with me to Katadhin.

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