Days 17 through 21 on the Appalachian Trail

Day 17

I took a nero in Gatlinburg (3 miles) which was my first nero of my journey. It felt so good to let myself rest, but by the afternoon I was ready to get back on trail. Ramen, Dream and I got a shuttle back to Newfound Gap around 3pm. I started my short hike to the shelter and could feel myself relax as my mindset shifted from town to trail. I arrived at the shelter to lots of other thru hikers. I went to bed early, excited to be back in the woods.

Hanging out in the shelter.

Day 18

I woke up to a stunning sunrise that I could see from the shelter. It was such a beautiful day, so I took lots of breaks at all the viewpoints. After leaving the shelter I didn’t see anyone else for the whole twelve-mile hike. It was nice to have some alone time. My IT band started hurting towards the end of the hike so I was glad to be doing a short day. I got to the shelter right before it started raining. 16 other thru hikers piled into the shelter because of the incoming rain. We played card games and dungeons and dragons. It was so fun hanging out with so many different people from all over the country.

Playing card games (spoons).

Day 19

The rain was pounding on the shelter when I woke up. I lay in my sleeping bag while everyone else packed up. I was sad because I knew everyone was hiking different mileages and I wouldn’t see a lot of those people for a while. The rain was still coming down when I started hiking and the trail was a river. The water was so deep as I hiked through it that it was going above my ankle into my boots. I laughed as I hiked at how miserable I was. Being cold and wet was horrible.

In this moment, I decided to embrace the suck. Instead of being negative, I told myself to laugh at the fact that my raincoat was soaked through and my feet were wet. The sun came out a few hours later and I quickly dried off and had an amazing warm hike for the afternoon. I hiked with Bug and Ramen for the last few miles and it was so nice laughing about the change of weather. I got to the last shelter after 14.5 miles and ate a ramen bomb for dinner (big surprise).

Awesome sunrise.

Day 20

I woke up early with the plan of hiking 17 miles in order to camp on Max Patch. I hiked the last two miles of the smokies. It was exciting finishing them because they are such a big milestone for NOBO thru hikers. It started drizzling out and I was soon cold and wet. I got to a shelter 11 miles into my day and met up with Ramen. She decided to stay at the shelter but I decided to once again embrace the suck and just keep trekking. I figured instead of being cold at the shelter I would be warmer if I kept hiking and moving. It was super foggy out and the trail looked a little creepy. I got to Max Patch and decided to keep hiking two more miles to another shelter. When I arrived I was so excited to see Beatle. I felt so proud to have hiked 19 miles which is my longest day yet! Bug showed up an hour later and the three of us had fun hanging out for the evening.

A cool trail marker

Day 21

When I woke up it was so cold. Our socks and boots were frozen solid and I didn’t want to get out of my warm sleeping bag. I boiled water and poured it on my boots in order to get my laces unstuck. My feet were so miserable for the first half an hour of hiking because they were so cold. Luckily the sun came out and I warmed up fast. Knowing I was going to be in town for the evening was really motivating and made the 17-mile day a little easier. My IT band was hurting again which was mentally tough. I arrived at a parking lot six miles away from town and saw that there was trail magic. I had a sandwich and a root beer which tasted so good. Because of the trail magic, I was able to power through the last six miles and was so excited to arrive in Hot Springs.

Amazing views.

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Comments 27

  • Avatar
    pearwood : Mar 21st

    I remember the Army version of “embrace the suck” was “good training, soldier.” (:-{D)

    Reply
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    Matt Haak : Mar 22nd

    Sounds like a great adventure

    Reply
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    Brooke : Mar 22nd

    I love the new language I am learning from your posts! Trying to think of how to bring trail magic into every day life. Your fortitude and power of mindset is inspiring. Happy trails!!!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Hannah : Mar 22nd

      Thank you so much!!

      Reply
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    Greg Christie : Mar 22nd

    Keep R Moving….

    Reply
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    Susan E. Malone : Mar 22nd

    What brand of hiking pants are you wearing? They look like they have a decent cargo pocket.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Hannah : Mar 22nd

      They are NOLS wind pants

      Reply
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    The Moseys : Mar 22nd

    NOBO thru hiker with my wife 1990
    I am enjoying your posts

    Reply
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    Peter mumford : Mar 22nd

    Are you not carrying an umbrella? It makes rainy days so much more pleasant.

    Reply
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    Deborah Fragel : Mar 22nd

    I ran across your post this morning. Haven’t hiked 30 years (1991 North Country trail). You have inspired me. I’ve survived lung cancer as a never smoker, and if my next scan is clean, I’ll pack up and head out.
    Misty Eyes.

    Reply
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    Paul : Mar 22nd

    I used to live in Mars Hill NC near the AT. Have sectioned hiked all of the trail along Madison County. I hope you have a good weather day when hit Big Bald, past Sam’s Gap. IMHO, a better view than Max Patch. Good luck!!

    Reply
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    scott walker : Mar 22nd

    enjoying reading your adventure on the AT. I’m hoping to embrace that adventure next year…SOBO 2022. Keep on trekking ! you got this !

    Reply
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    Julia Woodward : Mar 22nd

    Sounds like you’re killing it so far Hannah!! Super jealous and proud of you right now! Stay safe, happy trails!

    Reply
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    Micah G. Nassar : Mar 22nd

    Your posts are both inspiring and bring great memories of how I felt when hiking the AT many years ago. Those days of toughing it make the captivating moments all the more intense and awesome. Cheers to you!

    Reply
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    Christy Lawrence : Mar 22nd

    Way to go, Hannah!

    Reply
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    Jim Morgan : Mar 22nd

    Hannah, I really enjoy reading your entries. You have a great attitude through the rain soaked slogs. I’ve done the trail through CT 3 times and from Moosilauke to Bald Faces twice when I was a much younger man. You are living the dream, enjoy!

    Reply
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    Lou Terzo (Packman) : Mar 22nd

    Hi. Hannah. Totally enjoying your entries. You seem to have really conquered your fears and have become quite the thru hiker.
    Remembering how it was on the trail through your log. Thanks.
    Packman

    Reply
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    Maria : Mar 23rd

    Sounds like you’re killing it so far Hannah!! Super jealous and proud of you right now! Stay safe, Dreams

    Reply
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    Bill Meredith : Mar 24th

    Hi Hannah! I have been following you from the beginning. Your blog is Great! Just enough info and pictures along with your great personality. I am Happy that you ran into Trail angels along the way. I used to do that at my previous home near the halfway point in Pennsylvania at Pine Grove Furnace. When you get there make sure and do the half gallon ice cream challenge. I am now close to Killington Vermont which the trail runs through. If you are in need of anything when you get to that point or need any insight to trail through Pa. or VT. Let me know. I have been there and done that. Keep up the great adventure and writing. Stay Safe!

    Reply
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      Hannah : Apr 3rd

      Thank you so much, that’s a lovely offer. I can’t wait for the half gallon challenge!!

      Reply
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    Susan : Mar 25th

    Hi Hannah,
    How inspiring to see you steadfastly pursuing your dream. I enjoy reading your posts. You sound like you are having a wonderful time and making amazing progress in such a short time. I backpacked the Alaskan Resurrection Trail system many moons ago, though I was not experienced (like you) and did not cover as much territory. I forgot what a social, fun environment it was on the trails. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
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      Hannah : Apr 3rd

      Thank you so much, that sounds like an amazing adventure!

      Reply
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    Russ1663 : Mar 27th

    Good morning Hannah. I admire your attitude toward you NOBO trek. In my mind, 90% of the work is mental and you have a good grip on it. It is difficult to get up most each and every day no matter what the conditions and go forward. Best of luck throughout your journey.

    I’m a section hiker working Virginia bit by bit. It is my home and intend to go end to end and as many trails as I can find along the way

    Take care, stay safe and keep blogging

    Reply
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      Hannah : Apr 3rd

      Thank you so much!!

      Reply
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    Jim T : Apr 3rd

    Love this post. Avid hiker and backpacker. Done many Northern sections of trail but life does not allow a full scale attempt at the AT just yet.

    You give me hope for a future shot at it. Especially like your embrace the slog attitude.

    I’m a hammock camper . Is there any place to hammock camp near the shelters? It’s the only way I sleep well.

    Thanks And stay safe

    Reply
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      Hannah : Apr 3rd

      There’s lots of places to hammock near most shelters! It is pretty common to hammock along the AT and I’ve never heard of anyone having trouble finding a spot to set up.

      Reply
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    Kerri : Apr 7th

    Loving the posts! I love near the AT on the CT/NY border and would love to leave you some trail magic when you get here. I’ll try and keep tabs to make the timing work out. Keep it up!

    Reply

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