My First Week Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail
With the Approach Trail behind us and some of our initial kinks worked out, Miguel and I were ready to hit the trail with everything in us. We initially decided on a slow start, not wanting to overdo it. 8-10 miles was where we wanted to be around each day. That played out for the most part in week one, give or take a few miles. Here’s a recap:
Day 1 2/9: AT Approach Trail to Springer Mtn Shelter 9 miles
Day 2 2/10: Springer Mtn Shelter to Hawk Mtn Shelter 7.9 miles
Day 3 2/11: Hawk Mtn Shelter to Gooch Mtn Shelter 7.7 miles
Day 4 2/12: Gooch Mtn Shelter to Woods Hole Shelter 12.1 miles
Day 5 2/13: Woods Hole Shelter to Neels Gap 3.6 miles (Blood Mountain)
Day 6 2/14: returned to Mountain Crossings and switched out/upgraded some gear then hiked to Baggs Creek Gap 4.3 miles
Day 7 2/15: Baggs Creek Gap to Low Gap Shelter 7.2 miles
Fixing the Initial Mishaps
I know you all are wondering what came of all the things that went wrong that first night. When we finally made it to Neel’s Gap on day 5, we were able to fix/purchase/upgrade most of what we needed.
- Miguel purchased a Sawyer Squeeze to replace his missing one
- We chucked the Coleman fuel that wasn’t working for us and got the appropriate MSR brand fuel. They were nice enough to test it in the store to ensure it worked before we left.
- I told them about how my sleeping pad went kaput on the first night and the employee, Jeff, said there was a tiny pinhole that he couldn’t hear. He asked if we were in a rush and when we assured him we weren’t, he took it down to a bathtub they have to identify the hole. Unfortunately, he only found one but let me know there were two. He patched the one and showed me how to take care of the other when I find it. I’m still sleeping on a deflated pad but thankfully I have the Sea to Summit Comfort SI so I have a little padding and haven’t had any trouble sleeping on it.
- Our gloves have been soaked by the end of the day and with it being so cold, it really sucks. We ended up buying an OR Waterproof Mitten Liner to go over our gloves and it’s worked wonders so far!
- We purchased some Tyvek to have an extra layer between ourselves and the ground.
Our first two days were beautiful and dry. Day 3, 4, 6, and 7 were wet and cold, with day 5 being only cold. I honestly can see how people would be miserable walking in the cold rain, but I’ve just embraced it as part of the trail. Before coming out here, I did a LOT of mental preparation and I think that has helped me so far to always see the good in every situation. So far, we’ve missed most of the designated “views” due to the fog but even just looking out, I know it would be beautiful on a clear day. We know for every foggy and wet day now, we’ll have a sunny and dry one later on.
This Florida girl has been nothing but dazzled by even just the trees and plants alone. All I am used to seeing is palm trees and the occasional oak. And everything is covered in a vibrant green moss. On day two, we ventured off the trail on a MUST SEE stop. At mile 5.3 when the trail splits off with the Benton MacKaye Trail, trust me when I say veer off. Only about 120 steps off the AT, you’ll find Long Creek Falls. We enjoyed our lunch here on day 2 and can say without a doubt it’s the nicest “view” I’ve seen in my first week. As far as animals, it is still very cold and have not seen too much. I was very excited, however, to catch a glimpse of a chipmunk on day 1. Seems silly but it was my first time seeing one and it made my day.
The Physical Aspects
So far, the Approach Trail has still been the most challenging for me. Blood Mountain was also a little tough, but we took our time and made it through. We did our first 12-mile day the day before Blood Mountain. Then, we made the following our first half day, tackling just the mountain itself and covering only 3.6 miles.
I am not someone who has dealt with a lot of inclines (other than my treadmill) and I can say that I am out here making it. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other. One thing Miguel and I tell ourselves is that for every up there is a down. Sometimes it feels like we are walking up for hours. Then finally, the incline levels out and we get a little break before heading back down. It’s been great to see my body adjust to things I couldn’t imagine being able to do before being out here.
Trail Magic Teaser
I am already so in awe at the amount of kindness and trail magic we have been shown and in such a short time on the trail. I mentioned Tina’s kindness in my last post, but when we reached Neel’s Gap, we were blown away by how kind some people can be. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you all about it in my next post. Don’t forget to subscribe for a reminder when new content comes out! Thanks for following along on my journey and for all the kindness and support we have received so far.
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