Georgia tomorrow. Feeling all derpy

We fly into Atlanta around midnight tomorrow. After sleeping in the airport for a few hours (joy), we’re taking the MARTA to North Springs Station to meet our shuttle. Here’s the jumble of things in my brain. None of them really tie together, so I pulled an editorial cheat and gave them each their own header.

Best AT Question Ever:
My favorite 5th-grader came up to me at the climbing gym last week, looking confused. “What are you still doing here?” he asked me, “I thought you were in the Alfalfas by now.” The Alfalfas. From here on out, I will consider myself attempting a NOBO thru-hike of the Alfalfas.

The Rocky Resolution:
So I got the stomach flu (norovirus training!) the day before the final decision. If 90% of my attention hadn’t been focused on not vomiting everywhere, I would have been far more jubilant when it was decided he could go. As it was, I tottered out to the truck and promised Rocky a true celebration once the battle of my GI tract was over.

Some New Jewelry:
Two weeks ago, Rocky and I did a final shakedown trip into frigid, icy oblivion… basically what Georgia and Tennessee have in store. We post-holed for a gloriously wretched four hours, sinking up to our waists though some parts. I did get to witness Rocky’s 15-foot slide/freefall down an an ice-covered embankment though, so that made it worth it.


“If it isn’t orange, I won’t want it.” -Rocky, on his gear criteria

After we set up camp and Rocky built a fire (from flint!), he asked me to grab a few more branches from a downed tree. This was a failed task, as I was sidetracked by the elk-ivory ring perched on the log. I screamed (which is as much as can be expected from me in surprising situations) and said yes, so I’ll be wearing one piece of jewelry on the AT. We celebrated with Pasta Sides and a frozen Clif bar <3.

The trip also did a good job reminding me what camping in a snowstorm is like. I opened the fly in the morning and dumped an avalanche of snow into the tent, and my shoes solidified into blocks of ice. Rocky absolutely froze his butt off, which resulted in a trip to REI for a new base layer, fleece, hat, gloves, and a warmer sleeping bag.

The “Waiting Room” Doldrums:
The past few weeks have been a slow-moving blur, alternating between stress and boredom. I’ve spent so much time over the past year planning for the trail, buying gear, briefly considering training, and stressing over Rocky’s participation, that the past two weeks have been a dull countdown. This Waiting Room post explains it way better. Also, I watched a few YouTube videos about thru hiking, one of which focused so much on the party scene that I felt an inkling of doubt about the AT. The logical side of my brain says I don’t have to be part of that if I don’t want to be, but the irrational part of me is worried it will be unavoidable. I’m looking forward to meeting people, but drinking and safety meetings aren’t my thing. I think we’re taking off early enough to avoid the main bubble, which to me is worth the lousy weather.

That shoe isn't my foot, it's my camp shoe. My leg is, for a fact, buried to my hip.

That shoe atop the snow is my camp shoe. My leg is, for a fact, buried to my hip.

Hair Question:
What do people do about long hair? My hair is super tangly and gets nasty pretty fast. I’m not bringing shampoo or conditioner, but I am bringing half of a wide-toothed comb. Do people wash their greasy locks with motel room shampoo every month or so? Dr. Bronners? Huh? Am I expected to comb my hair on the reg? What’s the protocol on this?

We have enough dollars to see the trail through, but Rocky and I are indulgent and suck at managing money. Getting Rocky out of Sunglass Hut was a start—you don’t need $300 Oakley’s to hike the AT. I also want a newer, lighter sleeping pad, but I’m waiting on my REI dividend to get it—a big step considering my instant gratification issues. I know we won’t be able to resist the pull of a motel or an AYCE buffet, but I hope we make smart decisions regarding finances and don’t wind up with a $10,000 thru-hike.

Last-Minute Brain Falterings:
For the past week, my brain has been short-circuiting and rethinking everything. Everything in storage suddenly became necessary. What if I need a ladle? Could I strap this folding chair to my pack? I became obsessed with the fact that Rocky hadn’t gotten a toothbrush for our “hygiene kit” (Consisting of a toothbrush, toothpaste and… that’s it). Even now I can’t remember if we put his toothbrush the bag, and it’s stressing me out. Plus, I whacked my knee during a climbing fall and I have a blister from the one time this decade I wore heels. To my scattered brain, the bruised knee and blister means I’ll be helicoptered off a mountain before I get out of Georgia. Rocky isn’t immune either. He walked around REI in a daze the other day, staring blankly at foldable cups and dishware. He has a vendetta against our GSI Halulite Cookset, and I hate it too, but we can always change it out on the trail if it’s really that bad.

Time to Hit the Alfalfas:
While Bozeman is a tough place to leave, I haven’t been here long enough to anticipate feeling homesick. I’ll miss my dog and my wonderful friends, but now that Rocky can go, that pull back towards Montana is eliminated.

I’ve wanted to hike the AT for so long, and I hope I can avoid debilitating injuries and the I’m-Over-This-Sh*t Blues. There will be bad days, freezing weather, bum knees, and occasions when Rocky wants to push me off a cliff. But as my ultrarunner father told me atop a sleeting, socked-in White Mountain summit, “it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.”


This was in August, somewhere in the White Mountains. This is known as Secondary Fun.

See you in Georgia, y’all.


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Comments 5

  • Chelsey : Mar 2nd

    If you MUST keep your long hair then you are going to want to comb it very regularly. No worries about not washing regularly. I would recommend to keep your hair in a braid/bun while sleeping. It is very easy for long knotty hair to begin dreading due to sleeping with it down if your not combing regularly. I do know multiple women who kept their long hair through their hike but in the end their hair didn’t feel so important any more…. Good luck!

  • Atlas : Mar 2nd

    Are you paying for a shuttle to Amicalola Falls?

  • letshike2 : Mar 2nd

    I know it is still possible to avoid the “on trail party crowd” based on hikes from last season. Wired, the Kallin Family and a few other hikers I followed on blogs seemed to have no problem avoiding it. And are the “safety meetings” you referred to from YouTube videos with an older guy hiking and hitting up trail parties? I just recently seen them and was a little creeped out.

  • Marietta Jones : Mar 5th

    I’ve been binge reading Appalachian Trials since I’m traveling right now and can’t really … “prepare” more for my hike and your posts are pure gold! Definitely worried about the social aspect and it’s good to know I’m not the only one. I hope you have a chance to update from the trail before I start myself on March 27 because I bet it’ll be glorious! Happy trails!

  • Rachel Young : Mar 10th

    Maggie- absolutely LOVING your posts. Been laughing out loud a bit too much at work… (my work isn’t that funny)… keep it up! You have a new fan and I’ll be living vicariously through you and Rocky until I start my AT journey a year from now! If you figure out a long hair solution let us know!! I’m already worrying about that…


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