Georgia, You’ve Been Cold but I’m Embracing the Trail

Today is day nine on the trail, and I’m almost out of Georgia.

It somehow feels like I’ve been here forever and like it’s been no time at all. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and every day has some moments of true joy and occasional misery. Here have been some of the themes of my first state of the AT.

It is so surreal to see this arch in person.

Georgia is cold, y’all.

I knew this would happen when I decided to start in early March, but it’s still been difficult to deal with. We’ve had lows at night into the low 20s, which is doable in my sleeping bag, but I’ve still done a fair amount of shivering at night. I’m so thankful I got a mummy bag instead of a quilt so I can completely encase myself in down at night. The mornings have been the hardest. I gave up on cooking breakfast within four days because I just wanted to pack up as fast as possible and get moving. You warm up pretty fast when hiking, but taking breaks to eat lunch or filter water can get miserable quickly. Of course, that means that I haven’t really been eating or drinking enough, which makes staying warm even harder. It’s especially exhilarating to get up in the morning to go pee outdoors when it’s 25 degrees.

The best thing about winter is that you still get some views through the trees.

The hiking is hard, but it’s also amazing.

I was worried I hadn’t prepared enough physically for the trail, but it hasn’t been as hard as I thought. I’ve kept the mileage pretty low to start out, and have been hiking mostly eightish-mile days. Even with a pack that’s heavier than it should be, I haven’t been gasping on the way up and down mountains as much as I feared. Luckily I’ve really loved the hiking more than anything else on this trip so far. Possibly because it’s the only time I can count on being warm enough. I’m not having any major issues with my knees or feet yet, and I’m super thankful for that.

I’m obsessed with rhododendron tunnels. Like walking through a rainforest!

It may take a little while to find trail friends you click with.

I was super hopped up the first day of the trail, and everyone I met I was like, “Ooh, potential friend!” It turns out I didn’t really like anyone I met that day, and anyway I didn’t see most of those people again after that. It took a few days to find people who were hiking at a similar pace as me and who I actually liked spending time with. There are so many different kinds of people on the trail, and it can be hard when you’re meeting a bunch of new people every day. Especially if you’re normally introverted or socially anxious, it can be super overwhelming to have this constantly changing array of faces and names to remember. After a few days, it was nice to settle into a rhythm and see some familiar faces each night. I finally just settled on a trail name after much anxiety – I’m going to be Hedwig. Squid Kid mentioned that I looked like an owl while sitting in shelters and watching everyone. Snowy Owl seemed like a mouthful of a name, so I went with a specific snowy owl instead.

Finally made it to Neel Gap and gearing up for some pizza.

There is still so much trail ahead, and I’m looking forward to tackling it.

With one state just about finished, it’s clearer than ever how much effort this is going to take physically and mentally. I really feel like I’m just getting started, and it’ll be great to continue to settle into this new rhythm. Mostly I’m excited for it to be warm enough to eat my tortilla for lunch without starting to lose feeling in my hands. We’ll see what North Carolina has in store.

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Comments 3

  • Lisa McCormick : Mar 16th

    Enjoyed reading your story. Did you meet up with “Beast”? Looks like him in the Neel Gap photo. That’s my son BTW! Enjoy the journey!

  • Kathy Young : Mar 17th

    We are watching you little Hedwig and sending our warm hugs and love your way!!

  • Polly : Mar 17th

    Excited for you and your hike! Looking forward to seeing your updates. Stay warm and safe.


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