Emergency Gear Repair Hack on the Appalachian Trail

Bama ➡️ Baxter Day 129&130

Day 129: zero day

This morning we slept in at the hotel room knowing that we were going to be taking a zero today! That’s the best feeling in the world. We all got up and then headed down to the continental breakfast. Then we packed up in the room right around 11am to check out.

Once we were all packed up we walked across the street to the travel lodge to check into our new room for the night. We were able to get early check in which was awesome. Then we dropped off our bags and headed out to run some errands.

Roxy snuggling in the corner of the hotel room by the wall.

My hip belt buckle broke yesterday on trail and I was trying to figure out how to fix it. The gear shop in town really didn’t have much of anything. They catered more to tourists than to thru hikers. I called a dicks sporting goods and they suggested that I try a hardware store. And at the hardware store the lady working suggested that I buy a dog collar and cut the buckle off. That was the best suggestion that I had ever heard! So I picked out a dog collar with the perfect sized buckle and then bought a sewing kit from the dollar general.

From there we headed over to a Mexican restaurant to grab some lunch. Usually in town we get good service at restaurants but every now and again you get treated pretty crappy because of how we look. This was one of those moments for sure. We were seated at an outdoor area way away from everyone else and the server hardly ever came over to us. It took a long time to get drinks or order food. But after a while we were eating and enjoying ourselves. It’s just funny how that works sometimes. Especially because all three of us most recently worked as waiters/bartenders. So we are always easy tables to take car of and tip very well.

The massive burrito that I got at the Mexican restaurant.

Eating some chips and salsa at the Mexican restaurant in great Barrington.

After we ate there we headed back to the room. On the way back I got a few things at a gas station. Then we chilled at the room and I fixed my pack! The dog collar buckle worked perfectly. All I had to do was cut the seam on my hip belt that they fold over and sew to keep the buckle in place. Once I cut it the old buckle came right off and I replaced it with to the new one. Then I folded the piece of fabric back over and sewed it once more. The whole process took little to no time. I felt relieved to have fixed it for sure. If that lady hadn’t suggested buying a dog collar I don’t know what I would have done. It was only a matter of time under my hip belt no longer buckled at all.

My broken hip belt buckle.

The dog collar that I cut the buckle pieces off of to use for my hip belt.

My new, fully functional, dog collar hip belt buckle!

I fixed my hip belt buckle and then wound up talking to my mom for a while on the phone. Then the guys and I wound up walking over to McDonald’s for dinner. When we got to McDonald’s Animal was there! A hiker who we met for the first time back in the Smokey’s. Then we saw him again before Marion, VA and then again just before we got into Front Royal, VA. I got a nuggets meal and a milkshake at McDonald’s which hit the spot. On trail McDonald’s hits pretty damn good. I would never eat it in “normal” life but I sure do love it on trail.

The rest of the night we wound up just snacking and chilling out at the room. It felt so good to relax and do nothing at all.

Day 130: 11.8 miles

This morning we decided not to rush out of town, so we slept in at the hotel room. Around 9am we all finally got up and got packed up. Then we walked over to get breakfast somewhere. Most of the places nearby were closed so we wound up walking over to McDonald’s. I sure do love a sausage egg and cheese McGriddle meal though. We sat at the McDonald’s and I got coffee, McGriddle, and a few hash browns. Once again Animal was there which was really funny.

A McCafé caramel macchiato.

I don’t know how it came up but we started talking about vortexing in town. Somehow after our day of rest yesterday we all still wanted more rest today. So I looked at the travel lodge online and saw that there were a bunch of rooms available for tonight. We decided to walk back to the hotel and see about renewing for another night. Animal was down to join us as well which would be cool!

Sadly though when we talked to the people at the motel they said that they had no rooms. There were rooms available on booking.com so I decided to just book online and then go back to try and get a room that way. But even though the online booking went through they still claimed they didn’t have rooms. It’s was an interesting situation for sure. But there was nothing that we could do.

My ripped up hiking shorts that I finally retired for some “new” goodwill shorts!

We packed up and then headed out of the hotel. There was apparently a rec center nearby that allowed hikers to hang out and tent in the grass. We decided to head over there to hang out and decide what we wanted to do. The four of us wound up hanging out there for a while. I ate a bunch of snacks and laid out on my zlite. For a little while I was even feeling productive so I decided to do some blogging.

Around 3pm I finally said that we had to officially decide whether we were hiking out or zeroing again. Sweet Pea really wanted to zero but the rest of us liked the idea of at least getting some walking in. So we wound up packing up and planned to try and hitch back to the trailhead. But first we headed over to a nearby subway for lunch. I got a steak and cheese which was killer! While we were there we ran into another hiker House who we’ve seen a couple times before.

Lounging in the park before we finally decided to hike out.

Then after we all ate we headed out to the road to try and hitch back to trail. After just a few minutes a guy pulled over and agreed to take the four of us and Roxy. He dropped us off at the trailhead just before 5pm and we got to walking. We got some nice views here and there and the trail was generally pretty easy. Though I was feeling a bit lethargic after our lazy couple of days.

Great views on our climb out of Great Barrington.

Later on in the evening we arrived at the spur trail to the South Mount Wilcox Shelter that we planned to camp at. There were actually 2 shelters down the spur, one which was really cold and small, and one that was a newer double decker shelter. We wound up staying the newer shelter and setting up inside. 

I got set up inside and then sat out at the picnic table to eat the other half of my subway sandwich. Then I hung out with everyone outside for a while before calling it a night. The mosquitos were out and about and I was worried that it may have been a mistake to set up inside the shelter. Plus it was so damn hot out when we’ll after the sun had gone down. I wound up sleeping in my bag liner for most of the night.

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Comments 3

  • Alex Barnett : Aug 19th


    I really liked the idea of using a dog collar to fix your belt buckle problem. I was sorry to hear about the poor service you received at the restaurant. You did a better job of dealing with than I could have. The same goes for the hotel. I guess I just need to chill out more as I get older.

    Keep on trucking and blogging. I am enjoying following your journey.


  • Terry : Aug 20th

    Peg leg
    I have been following your blog since it showed up in my news feed. I have never been on a trail hike but I do enjoy your rendition.
    Stay safe and keep moving.

  • Chris : Aug 21st

    You’re the second blogger this week that I’ve read about hitting McDonald’s twice during the same stop. It would have been even more comical if it was the same town, but it’s not. Keep up the good hike!


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