Lightning, Tampons, and Beetles… Oh My!

Pre-trail jitters

In order to start this blog, I need to take you back, and I mean like… a year ago when I decided I was 100% committed to doing this thing.

To fully commit to the trail, I went on the AT website, picked a completely random day (I do not recommend this), and registered. I said, “This is gonna be the day I start the trail,” and I followed through with it. I gave my job notice I was leaving t.wo months prior. I know that’s not the norm, but I was working with special-needs children, and I wanted to ensure that they had a swift transition over to new staff.

I noticed that as I got closer to the date, time started moving quickly. I was excited, but I never fully felt like I was truly ready to leave. I was scared. I was gonna be away from the people I love for months on end, unsure of a date I could plan on seeing them next.

And then the day came. It was time for me to get on the plane, Spirit Airlines… to be exact lol. I feel like as I got steps closer to Georgia, I looked for signs to see if this was the right choice for me. And there were a lot of signs telling me to turn around the first few days.

However, let me tell you this right now. I am a very stubborn person, and I will do what I set out to do. No matter what obstacles are placed in my way.

But I will still tell you all the “signs” telling me NO because I find it funny.

Red means go for it, right?

The first “sign” was that when I got on the plane, before we even took off, a ground crew member’s hat got sucked into the engine, delaying my flight to leave… typical spirit airlines behavior hahaha!

The second sign was that my period happened to fall on the same day I was starting. I had no clue when it was going to land since it can be a bit unpredictable, but here I was, having to face Aunt Flo during the craziest transition of my life.

The third sign was that there was going to be a thunderstorm… the day I was planning on starting the AT. I am incredibly afraid of lightning, and to be honest, that was the only thing I could think about, even days before I started. I think I was more nervous about the lightning than the actual trail itself.

However, a little bit of preparedness goes a long way. Sometimes I feel like the most unlucky person in the world, but I’m sure other people have started in similar conditions. And to avoid fully traumatizing myself on the first day, I made sure I at least had ways of making myself more comfortable. And so I made sure to bring enough tampons, I reserved a night at Above the Clouds hostel the night it was supposed to storm, and I made sure to download some good tunes to ease my nerves.

No matter how prepared you think you are, things don’t always go as planned. You don’t know what will happen until the time comes. So all you can do is do the best with what you have and try not to be an idiot. You’ll see how my “plan” worked out as you keep reading. 

Day zero- testing the ropes

Me standing at the famous arch at Amicalola!

Although it’s been a month since I started the AT (I have a lot for you to catch up on), I still think that the approach trail was one of my most memorable days, which is funny, because it was also one of my worst days.

I woke up from an awful slumber at the Quality Inn Dahlonega. I didn’t sleep poorly due to the quality of the hotel itself, but rather not being able to sleep at all due to the anxiety of what was to come. All I could think about was getting up and down the mountain before the storm started brewing.

With my fears overtaking my mind, most of my hike up, I felt like some kind of zombie. I wasn’t taking in anything, I was just walking. I couldn’t even process what people were saying to me because I was that deep in my thoughts.

I think I sort of woke up once I got to the top of Springer. It was hard not to with a view like that. And then I reached my first blaze, and all my fears just washed away, if even for a moment.

I confidently walked onto the Springer Mountain shelter, found a good spot, and set my stuff up for the night. I was even so confident in the environment that I thought it was a good idea to just set up the tarp part of my trekking pole tent and forego the bug net. Boy, was I wrong.

I said I liked The Beatles… not the beetles!

Sleeping without a bug net is one of the worst mistakes anyone can make. I thought that since it was still technically winter, no bugs would come to bother me.

That was until I felt some tiny legs crawling on me at 1:00 in the morning.

I was afraid to even turn on the light to see what decided to have a non-consensual slumber party with me. But I knew the problem would only persist if I didn’t check.

I turned on the light and peeked into my sleeping bag.. it was a false mealworm beetle!

Picture I drew of the evil beetle that decided to sleep with me.Here’s my composite of the criminal. I actually think it’s quite good. But feel free to google it as well.

For the next hour, me and this huge beetle had an intense battle. I’d kick it out, it would fart on me, and then it would come back and the cycle would restart…

over and over again.

I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled a false mealworm beetle fart, but it may be one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced.

Not only did it smell bad, but the scent also stuck to my sleeping bag for the next couple of days.

I eventually won the battle, but I felt defeated in the end. I was forced to add the bug net and close myself off from nature. Maybe it was for the best.

A rude awakening

After setting up my bug net, I was able to sleep for maybe… three hours. Until I started seeing flashes outside of my tent.

The storm had begun.

Due to my anxious nature, I aborted my base, grabbed my sleeping bag, shoved it into my backpack, and ran down into the shelter. I didn’t want to bother the shelter sleepers so I sat down on the dirt floor and tried my best to get a sliver of sleep.

When the sun finally started to rise, I began to plan my exit to the next road. It was one mile away. Once I got the chance, I ran out of the shelter and headed for the road.

Do not run during a storm, you will slip (I did… a few times). The approach trail was no joke.

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Comments 4

  • Kelly : Apr 11th

    Keep up the posts corndoggy!!! I loved this one you are such a funny writer

    • Courtney Mahn : Apr 11th

      Thank you 🙂 I definitely have a lot if stories in the bank!

  • Daddy : Apr 12th

    Awesome post Courtney, I’m so proud of you!

  • Theresa Gill : Apr 12th

    Your mom never told me you were such a gifted writer! This is hilarious, you certainly got the Highins sense of humor


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