Knowing When to Take a Break (Even When it Seems Too Early)

How do you know when it’s time to take a break from your thru-hike, even though it feels like you have barely just started? Well, as stated in my previous blog, you can do whatever the hell you want, when you want, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Not having fun? Take a break, simple as that. So anyways, I was not having fun, and mishap after mishap led me off-trail to work-for-stay at a hostel back in Georgia. They graciously picked me up from Franklin and brought me back to help with dishes, laundry, cleaning, and other hostel chores. I get to meet lots of other hikers, help them with their issues, and see them off to trail again, which is very strange. I wear the same clothes every day, so I am still carrying my trail dirt around. I actually really enjoy the simplicity of the tasks and meeting new people, which is probably why I was interested in thru hiking in the first place. I’ve already learned many lessons in my short time at the hostel and I look forward to pretending like I know what I’m doing on trail soon. When will that be? When I want to.

Crossed into NC, snapped this picture, and disaster shortly ensued

So here is the story of the final rock that broke the hiker’s toe, metaphorically, which led me to get off trail for now — my worst fear for this hike came true and I became hypothermic just shortly after crossing into North Carolina. It was a perfect storm of mishappenings that led to my rough start to the trail and also my very cold afternoon at Muskrat Creek “Shelter.” I hiked up ahead of Ally, aka Cosmic Pickle, and it was very cold and windy. I was already cold arriving into the shelter area, set up camp, ate a wrap, changed out of my clothes, and got into my quilt. About an hour later, it still felt like I was lying on an ice block (after adding more layers to my sleep clothes) and I had just fallen asleep at just three p.m., so I told Ally I was not doing well, and I recognized the signs of what was happening to me. She put her 0-degree quilt over my 10-degree quilt, gave me her beanie to wear, and made hot tea for me. After almost another hour (I think), I was still cold, shivering, fumbling my words, and generally felt like a zombie. She shepherded me out four miles to Deep Gap for a shuttle. Bobby the Greek picked us up at around 7:15 p.m. and even brought us Burger King, which warmed my soul (the car heat warmed my body). To be honest, I don’t remember much about that hike except that my phone wasn’t working and I really wanted a picture of the Chunky Gal trail sign. After we got into Franklin, were both pretty shaken up, I was even more scared by my prior state, and I just felt like I didn’t want to keep hiking, but quitting didn’t feel right. We took two days off and I still just didn’t want to hike. So I didn’t. We ate lots of food and watched lots of basketball. Ally continued on her own and I’m so proud of her, I miss her already, and I wish she had enough battery and service to FaceTime me along the entire length that she’s hiking without me. We always talked about how hard this would be to do alone, but I know that both of us are strong enough to do that anyway. And also I can’t wait to catch up to her and see her again in the next state!

A sign with the misspelled text “Sheeter”

My least favorite “shelter” on this trail so far. 0/10, very cold.

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Comments 5

  • Kelli : Mar 31st

    I believe everything happens for a reason.
    You are right where you need to be for now.
    Enjoy the journey wherever it leads:)

    • Amanda Genovese : Apr 1st

      Thank you, Kelli! 🙂

  • Wolf of the Wind and Wood : Apr 1st

    I really like this story. So glad there are knowledgeable people to run into. But the problem is, you cant count on that and you certainly can not make your plans on being able to. Im wondering, have you ever considered what would have happened had you not run into Cosmic Pickle? Or maybe you intended to hike with them the whole time. Hard to say with your story as its not evident you would be hiking with them the whole time.
    We cannot not do things in life for fear of what could happen, but time should be taken to try and address all possibilities first.
    Glad you are safe even though I do not know you. Hope this is added to your great wealth of knowledge and that the future holds great things for you.

    • Amanda Genovese : Apr 1st

      Thanks, yes I have considered all of the possibilities. I would have hiked out myself had I been in the same situation alone, but there are also many things I could have done (asked for help/more layers, made a fire, tried to get warm by moving around in the shelter). One thing I have learned since taking a break is that every experienced hiker has also experienced hypothermia, so I feel less alone in my mistake. I will definitely be making some gear changes before getting out there but I’m not so afraid, just accepting what happened and being more mentally prepared now!

      • Detox : Apr 1st

        If I could have done anything different last year it would have been to take more time enjoying the experience. Nothing wrong with taking time to heal your body and soul. Enjoy the rest. Let the cold nasty weather pass then press on. Great adventure awaits and Katahdin will arrive too soon. Detox NOBO21


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