First Week on the Trail

 

In the beginning

 

 

 

 

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First thoughts and impressions

The day before I began my Nerves were on edge.  I was scared. I felt unprepared.  The drop out rate scared me.  I was out of shape.  My pack base was 24 pounds, 35 with five days of food. Was that too much?
Day one all the thoughts of doubt flew away. The trail started with 600 or so steps but next to a beautiful waterfall.  Tired?  Drink water take in the view.  Before I knew it I was on top of the steps and then I kept walking and felt fine.  My confidence was building and I felt empowered.  We stopped one and a half miles from the top of springer at black gap shelter to camp and had some food. Food has never tasted so delicious!  It was a good day :). (7.3 miles)

 

 

 

Waterfalls and feet

The following day we reached the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  We got to Springer in the early morning to meet a crowd.  It was cold but we had a bit of view which was nice.  I noticed mica and quartz everywhere (the ground was like exploded sparkles) Then the walking was mostly down from there.  We had a few creek crossings and then a five minute walk off the trail was this amazing waterfall.  Lots of rhododendrum and hemlocks.  The walking was tough on my feet and at the end of our walk (the new campsite near Hawk Mountain) my feet were burning and I couldn’t stand.  Luckily my dad has been with me this first week and he got the water wich made me feel better.  Ate another good dinner that couldn’t be beat (Mac and cheese with spam!). Slept like a baby on my thermorest.

Mental mountains

The hardest day for me was day 3.  I woke up and my feet weren’t happy from the 8.9 mile day before.  We wouldn’t have water for awhile so we filled up.  The day was hot and the trail was a roller coaster of steep ups and downs with many stairs.  Luckily there was a water tank between the mountains to fill up and a father waiting upon his daughter gave us a Gatorade.  The trail was still rough though and the dog was thirsty.  My feet sore again I made my dad stop and the next campsite (one mile short of our plan). We camped at Justice Creek and I was totally ok with it (even though it would lead us to a 10 mile make up day the next because we didn’t have a bear canister and had a time limit to get my dad to a road).  My first doubts had come that day and I knew that I couldn’t push myself too much because my body does have limits and  my mind will go to places it shouldn’t if pushed.

Easy Rollin an views

The next morning I felt rejuvenated.  So much so that I packed at 330 am until my dad told me what time it was and I unpacked and went back to sleep.  Then we started at out earliest so far (before 9).  Went at a decent phase because the trail was easy walking.  Got some trail magic in the form of jerky from some cool folks trying to preserve the trail and protect from hiker trash. Then up we went at an easy grade and got to our first view out of three where we had a snack.  After lunch we came across a view at Preachers Rock with lots of mountains.  One more view came a few minutes beyond on a blue blaze trail. We ended up at our 9.9 mile mark at Lance creek where 20 tents were set up and 2 hammocks. Ran into some familiar faces of girls and dudes we’d camped with the previous nights and caught up.  The dog got major attention. My confidence back I went to sleep happy.

Blood mountain

The next day we started up Blood Mountain. One of the last to leave the campsite we started off into our first foggy day.  Up a moderate grade for 5 miles with some steps at the end.  We ended up at this 4 walled stone shelter on top of the mountain next to mountain Laural and rododendrum.  The fog had just cleared and we had views from the east and west side of the mountain will large rocks all around.  Had a long break for lunch then headed down the steep ass hill. It was one of the steepest downhills I’ve experienced and I experienced a spiking pain.  Stopped my dad went ahead and grabbed and ice pack but I got to Neel Gap right as he headed back up the trail.  We had a pizza then more trial magic of spaghetti and salad!  Hung out with everyone staying at the hostel and caught up.  The next day will be a zero day and I’ll resupply.  So excited about the shower!

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Comments 6

  • Avatar
    Carol Prevost : Mar 14th

    Enjoyed your post. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Irvin Valle (coach) : Mar 14th

    What was the sharp pain? Hope you atay healthy, keep on hiking and sharing your thru.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Philip Schuchardt : Mar 16th

    Dude! If you want to reduce you’re pain and make the trail easier, ditch some of your pack weight. I can tell by, your photo you’re carrying way, way to much.

    Starters Ditch the following:
    1. The extra shoes
    2. Camel back and nalgene (replace with light weight bottles), you probably only need 2 liters
    3. Anything you don’t use every day

    Carrying an extra pound 2000 miles is the same as carrying an extra ton 1 mile!

    Happy Hiking!!!!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    April : Mar 16th

    Praying all is going well this week. I miss your smiling face every time I go by your cube and am sometimes still startled that you are not there. definitely be careful with the pains. Miss you and enjoy all those views!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Kendra : Mar 17th

    Hillary,

    I work with your Mom and I was so excited when I heard about your adventure! Slightly jealous, but I’m not near brave enough to do anything like this. I’m looking forward to reading all about your journey. Good luck!!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Cindy Regan : Mar 17th

    Good luck. You are very courageous. It sounds like rhe adventure of a lifetime. I work with your Mom. She is so proud of you.

    Reply

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