Looking Back: 2015’s First Trail Entries

The following is a list I compiled for myself of 2015 Appalachian Trials Bloggers first days on the trail. Some have made it to Katahdin already, some have never been heard from again!

I wrote this list for myself, of some of my favorite “first entries from the trail” so I could come and reflect on what I’m up against as I begin my trek, and mentally prepare for mud, rain and PUDs (Pointless Ups and Downs). Maybe it can help some other future thru hikers too! I tend to like posts that tell of the day-today life on the trail and include plenty of pictures (good to note while I’m writing my own posts from the trail). Don’t forget there are lots of other “great first posts from the trail” out there that aren’t on this list!

I don’t know the trail status of all the 2015 bloggers, but I went through almost all of them reading their first posts from the trail. From what I could see (based purely on where they last posted from) the people who were the most upbeat and optimistic in the beginning made it the furthest. I guess attitude really IS the difference between adventure and adversity. Sorry Dad, I was a terrible teenager 🙂

Let’s travel in time back to the spring of 2015….

Courtney – “Coco & Earl – Days 1 through 7”

Courtney (aka Coco) FINISHED THE FREAKING TRAIL, AND BLOGGED THE WHOLE DAMN TIME. She definitely stood out to me as a badass female hiker/blogger and I always looked forward to her updates, but in the rush of everyone starting the trail (and blogging about it) I missed her first few posts. I love how when talking about her first day she says “still not feeling like anything more than an overnight camping trip” because I have a feeling I will feel that way for… a while. Her writing was, and remained throughout her hike, wonderful. Somehow she makes hiking in the rain and fog sound like the most fun you can have. I love that! And lots of pictures.

Highlights:

“There is a common theme that has already emerged through friends and strangers and that is that people want us to succeed and are generous to a shockingly touching degree regardless of how closely they know us.”

“With the rain, the fog rolling in front of us felt like walking through clouds. To pass the time, Earl and I have been telling each other about the books we’re reading. It’s become a daily routine that I keep looking forward to.”

“Regardless, I had a minor meltdown in the back of the store. My first and likely not my last on the AT. It was a combination of seeing that my pack weight (without water, rainfly, electronics, or camp towel) was 28.6 pounds and picking up a rain jacket that weighed less than 1/4 of my own. I lost it. The tears just came. Rather than feeling like an accomplished, strong, and resilient badass because that meant that I had hiked over a mountain in rain with over 35 pounds on my back, I felt defeated.”

“Solid hangouts with a beer made for a very satisfying end of a very satisfying day: trail magic, Blood Mountain, hiker rescue, and at one point completing 1% OF THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL.”

Maggie AKA HoneyBadger, AKA Tortoise- “Springer to Hiawassee: Everything hurts but it’s so fun”

Honeybadger has so many photos and such a great attitude! All of her posts are fantastic and  I picked her out as one of my favorite bloggers to watch on a post it note in my cubicle before she even started hiking. Hi, I’m your #1 stranger fan. Just read her post. It’s fantastic.

Highlights:

” The people were interesting. A guy with rubber rain boots and an entirely cotton hiking outfit who scoffed at me and said “the only thing that matters is keeping your feet dry.””

“Everything from my knees to my feet feels like someone beat me with a baseball bat.”

” My wise father bestowed another ultrarunning adage to me: “It doesn’t always keep getting worse.” I feel like that will help me when things really get rough. They’ll get better! They always do!”

Seeker – “The Adventure Begins: Amicalola Falls to Dick’s Creek Gap”

Seeker writes a detailed account of his first few days, which is engaging and humorous: foot problems, single digit temperatures, frost covered trees, this post has it all. Plus he comes across as a good natured, friendly guy. Reminds me a bit of how I expect my boyfriend will be on the trail, saying hi to everyone. Don’t go thinking there aren’t photos here, there are, and they are great, but you have to get to the end of the post to see them!

Highlights:

“The important thing to remember about meeting people is that like the trail itself, it’s a Marathon, not a sprint. As hikers establish and re-establish their paces they weave in and out of each other, seemingly at random. I was three days into this trip, with hundreds of days left to go. Rushing is the initial instinct for me – I’m always worrying about making a deadline, reaching a goal, etc. Maybe it’s that New England urgency that I have ingrained in my psych. It’s definitely a habit I would like to shake, but thats part of this whole AT Thru Hike Experience.”

Jeanne “Spider” Church – “Finally on the Trail!!”

I loved reading Spider’s posts all season. I just love her. And I love this first on-trail update. It was always so fun to see the faces of herself and her husband (Backfire) in updates. Their first on-trail update was no different. Also, she’s the kind of writer where you read what she’s put down and it makes you want to just go give someone a hug. Just me? ok…

Highlights:

“We only walked about 4 miles today because the weather was unrelentingly horrible. Our tent was wet inside and out. We packed up in the rain, we walked in the rain and for more than two hours, we sloshed through the mud. We only took one outdoor  picture today–of our wet miserable selves.” (see above for the photo.)

“It was a nice quiet setting until the rains started. OMG!  It was so loud on the tent that we couldn’t hear each other talk! It rained and rained and rained all night long.”

Jen Magnuson- “Day 1-4: From Thru to Through and Back Again”

She has some lovely photos, and also speaks some truth about how hard it can be to start. Cold, heavy packs, and doubt creep in, but ultimately Jen hikes on!

Highlights:

“As we hiked out, I kept thinking that we had made the biggest mistake coming out here. I hiked in tears of anger and sadness and homesickness for our pets and for DC and for a dry warm indoor space in general. I spilled all of the doubts I had carried since our shakedown hike in August to Muskrat in a flood of angry tears as I stomped and sobbed my way north.”

“I did take a deep breath. It smelled of the mountains, and it brought me back to myself. It stirred a million memories of childhood summers in western North Carolina, waking to that smell, picking blueberries in the sun behind my papaw’s cabin, drinking hot chocolate on the porch, playing in the creek surrounded by bright yellow flowers, hours spent climbing the big red wagon wheel out front, evenings staring at the stars and reading by the warmth of the wood stove.”

“It stayed dry and warm, and after dinner, we snuggled into our tent with an outlook as bright as the day had been. I told Muskrat, “We can totally do this!””

Laura Houston- “Trail Update #1: The Ups and Down of the First 100 Miles”

Laura faces a lot of challenges in her first 100 miles. By challenges I mean mud. And Rain. And hiking in the mud and the rain. And being cold in the mud and the rain. And doing other things in the mud and the rain.

Highlights:

“Of the 13 days I’ve been on the trail it has rained 7 of them. At this point the trail is either 6 inches of mud or 6 inches of ice cold water. Wet shoes and wool socks are a constant. There have been very few views to speak of, instead I hike through most and rain, with my eyes planted down to avoid falling off the trail.”

“After 106 miles, the trail and I are still getting acquainted. Some people love being out here, love the trail, love the people, love everything about it. The trail and I are not in love, yet. We are still eyeing each other up, trying to see what we are all about and made of. Some of the time we are happy and at peace with one another. Other times I’m gritting my teeth and fantasizing about quitting while the trail puts another cold stream of water through my shoes. I’m hoping we fall in love soon.”

Brendan Bucko – “Out of the Frying Pan & Into the Fire: First Day on the Appalachian Trail”

There is snow on the ground, and rain flaps moving around in the wind leading to cold and soggy everything. Well, it’s not a dream boat, but it’s exactly what I want to read about. They enjoy some really amazing sounding meals though, including some pouch salmon with fresh garlic. Now THAT sounds like a great idea! There are also some thoroughly terrifying photos of a snow covered trail in here. Brrrrrrr, this California girl is going to have a lot to get used to… This post was a good “What am I getting myself into” option.

Highlights:

“The cold was starting to seep through our layers as the sun waned. We boiled potatoes and cooked them with onions, garlic & seasoning. We ate and got into our sleeping bags early to try and keep warm. We were sleeping on an icebox though. The cold continued to attack us throughout the night as we shivered in and out of sleep…”

“Woke up to the hoots of an owl just overhead. Found myself to be freezing yet again; the bottom of my sleeping bag was wet, as was my pack just outside in the vestibule, as were my trail pants, as were my shoes… you get it. I failed to secure the rainfly properly and the overnight rains had blown it around, allowing water to seep in wherever it could…”

“It is truly mystical to long for the simplicity of sunlight and to receive it like a blessing at the last!”

 

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Comments 11

  • Avatar
    Bob Rogers : Sep 25th

    I followed 3 of your 7 hikers as well. I love your idea of gathering their first days/weeks/month worth of posts. I’ll have to go back and read the other 4 people. In addition to that I’m going to have to go back and intentionally look for bloggers that “failed” as well as bloggers that made the entire trip. The guys that didn’t finish hopefully posted some about the pitfalls they fell into. Use those as lessons, when thinking this way these guys didn’t make it. This other group was in the same boat and this is how they handled it. Even if it was a good melt down in a store.

    It was sad to see Jean throw in the towel but understandable after their delays. Seeker started out great then totally disappeared. Last I checked, he still “owes” us an update of his final section that he had skipped. Coco was great thru-out. I hope to post as often or more when I’m finally out there. I should look into low power voice recorder apps for the phone.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      GooglePostJobs:::GET $97/h : Sep 28th

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    • Avatar
      Kira Thornley : Nov 12th

      You’ll have to let me know who else you were reading!

      Reply
    • Avatar
      Coco : Dec 23rd

      🙂 Thanks, Bob!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    katie fleming : Sep 26th

    I completed my thru-hike in 5 months and 13 days. I blogged every single day. Check me out at http://www.5millionstepswithkatie.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Avatar
      wyclif : Sep 26th

      I’m curious what hikers are using to blog from the trail. You’re the first hiker I’ve heard of that blogged every day of your thru hike. I’m impressed, because most of the blogging hikers I’ve read do it very sporadically when circumstances allow. I mean, what is the workflow for that? Do you compose all the entries on your phone, or is it a mixture of uploading from the phone + laptop or desktop (when you have a zero day and staying in a hostel or hotel)? I see that you use Blogger. What about battery life for your device?

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Yoda : Sep 26th

        I used an iphone 5 to write my blog every night. I usually had enough service to post at night, if not I would check throughout the day and post when I had service. I used a powergen 12,000 mAh battery pack to keep my phone charged. I got up to 6 full charges out of it. I never ran out of juice to keep my phone charged.

        Reply
      • Avatar
        katie fleming : Nov 2nd

        I used an Iphone 5 exclusively. I found that even when staying in towns it was easier to use my phone because I didn’t have to transfer my pictures to a computer, write my blog, then delete the pictures from said computer. I kept my phone in airplane mode while i composed my post and would turn it on to post. It used a fair amount of data and would drain the battery pretty severely if I didn’t have excellent cell service. I also carried a backup battery pack called a Powergen 12,000. It kept all of my devices charged with no problems.

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    • Avatar
      Kira Thornley : Nov 12th

      I went through and read the first three months of your hike in one sitting. I’m fighting not to do it at work right now because…. well I’m at work! Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Jeff Aylward : Dec 8th

    Trail name Dusty Pilgrim, Plymouth Ma

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Jeff Aylward : Dec 8th

    Hey just found this, fantastic. Recognised some names…left Amacacolder on March 14 th 2015 th Great job posting up; only hiked for three months, Nothern Penn, plans in spring to do next half….Dusty

    Reply

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