Several Weeks In, a Tramily Takes Shape

I spent a few weeks on the Appalachian Trail and here is what I’ve learned so far.

I Ain’t Nothing Special

I came to the trail thinking I was in decent shape, with a lot of backpacking experience personally and professionally. We hike a lot, and have strong legs. Admittedly, my ego was inflating, but the Mylar wasn’t going to pop.

I learned within 20 minutes of stepping onto the approach trail that I am not really in that great of shape and this was going to be hard! Layers came flying off instantaneously. The burn was not just present, but prevailing by halfway up those damn stairs. “Holy shit, what did I get myself into?” Half an hour later and I was standing at the top, staring down at the cascading waterfall; the ATC was a small ant house at the bottom. I smiled at Thomas and we laughed out loud, my first friend on the AT.

But the Universe Still Loves Me

I have already seen so much generosity from the trail community that my family back home even feels grateful. I met a wonderful woman online in a woman’s AT group, Charolette. She and her husband, Erik, offered Hunter (my dog) and me a place to sleep the night before our journey began and a ride up to the trailhead. Our first trail angels showed their wings before we even got to the trail. Next, I met a couple of wonderful women on trail; two sisters, Bernie and Margaret, who opened their hearts and home to Hunter and me to join them at their home, an hour away, for our first zero day. I spent time sitting on their stunning Georgia log cabin home overlooking a gorgeous river. We have two nights in a comfortable bed, with amazing meals and hot showers, yet are still tucked away in nature while we rejuvenate. They are some of the most caring and thoughtful women I have ever met, and their Southern hospitality is something to write home about. When I hit Neels Gap, I met a man who was delivering brownies for thru-hikers that his wife had baked that morning; after climbing Blood Mountain, there is nothing better than a homemade fudge brownie. Wow!

Fast Forward to Climbing into North Carolina

Giving it about two more weeks on trail, I’ve ended up with a sort of trail family, or tramily, as we like to call it out here. While we are slowly splitting up, adjusting, and ever-changing due to trail exits, slowdowns or amping up in mileage, we have a set of people always within 15 miles to lean on when we need a laugh, a bitch session, or a Snickers bar because we ran out last night after eating our whole week’s supply because sitting around with our peace pipe renders us unable to stop eating candy. It’s a great feeling to know that those around you are going through similar trials even when we all got here by different means and for different reasons. For the past week, I’ve been hiking with three guys; Gabe the Babe (aka Baby Gaybee, aka Bellow the Bard), Joker and Ripit. All are different ages, ranging from 18 to 57. The group will break up soon due to the Babe pumping up in mileage, another one going home for some business for a bit, and two of us continuing on. We know enough people in our bubble, though, that the trail will adjust and fit us with some more soon, I’m sure.

Local Love

There is a lot of love from locals. I’ve been graced with enough free moonshine to make Neil Armstrong blush. I’ve been offered rides, food, hugs, and high fives. When they say the trail will provide, they mean it! Embrace the suck but be ready for the love that comes with it, it always shows up.

Until next time,

Happy trails.

No Worries and Hunter

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