It Begins!


A Rough Start 

I have read that the Approach Trail is one of the toughest parts of the AT in general and I know that it’s optional. But I’ve seen it in so many other peoples’ videos that I almost feel like it’s a rite of passage. But ultimately I knew if I did not take the approach trail that I would regret it. So I went for it.

It was brutal! My pack weighs in at 38 pounds, which is about 13 pounds overweight. I felt like I was going to be sick from exertion but my cousin, who was helping get started, showed me a great breathing exercise. Left step – inhale, right step – exhale. It became a walking breath meditation and the technique has continued to be helpful.

Exhausted and Out of Water

I was trying to make it to the Black Gap Shelter and was getting low on water. I ran into a group of 3 hikers tenting next to the trail and inquired how much further it was. Upon finding out that it was still 2 1/2 miles I was pretty distraught because I was feeling that level of fatigue when your muscles just cannot fire anymore. But I was thirsty and had almost finished my water.

I went about another quarter mile when my legs just gave out and I simply could not take one more step. So I tented alone just beside the trail and hoped someone would join me.




I had a heck of a time hanging my bear sack as it was a section of dead trees without many horizontal branches. When I did find one it was small. Then my line kept getting caught in briars. I felt as if the Universe was testing my limits.

After I had been in my tent a few hours I heard rain beginning. Then saw the flash of lightening and just had to laugh out loud for how bizarre it all seemed. A mouse ran up the side of my tent and I freaked out. Later, I heard definite heavy footsteps of a large animal rustling the leaves close by so I blew the hell out of my whistle!

Seeking Connection

I got through the night by texting family members – thankful for the cellular reception. Not much sleep happened that night and I got up at first light.

First thing was to retrieve my bear bag. After getting stuck in the branch I finally got down with a few curse words and stomped right through the briars in defiance. I made my first deep woods dookie, packed my bag and headed off for a MUCH better day.

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Comments 2

  • Clifford Ward : Mar 4th

    I enjoy these “start of the trail” notes, easier to learn this way than make the same mistakes myself!

  • Steffen : Mar 4th

    Roigh start indeed, you are stronger than you know.


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