Neels Gap to Franklin

Introduction

Well, I made it farther than 25 percent of hikers! After passing through Mountain Crossings without giving my shoes up to the shoe tree, I have now made it past the point where about a quarter of AT thru hikers drop out of their hike. Well, not this guy!

A Family…

After Neels Gap I progressed towards North Carolina, looking to finish my first of 14 states of the AT. The difference now is I have a trail family! We have dwindled down a bit but we are still large enough to split into smaller sub-groups.

Tex and I are the Scout Group, as we are usually the first out of camp and the fastest hikers, so we scout up the trail for good camp and break spots for the group.

Hamilton, Trailbait, and High Class are the ducks, as Hamilton is the experienced mother duck to the two young ducklings that are Trailbait and High Class.

The Stoop Boys, the guys who hung out on the stairs in the Blood Mountain Cabins, are comprised of Meatsuit, Linnaeus, and Highlander.

And finally, there’s Chill, who is, well, chill!

Chill is the guy who volunteers to collect firewood and build fires. He’s also the group chef and enjoys cooking anything and everything he can get his hands on.

One State Down…

Finishing Georgia felt like a huge accomplishment. Despite the fact that I’ve already done the Georgia section of the AT, this time it was official and felt like I was making some true progress towards Maine.

It also marks the point where all of this begins to feel much more real. I am getting used to the routine and feel acclimated to the idea of doing this for five more months.

A Quick Refresher

Based on some experiences so far, I feel there needs to be a quick refresher on some basic trail etiquette. So here are some rules can all live by to make sure we all enjoy the outdoors:

1. Uphill hikers have right-of-way

It’s not easy going uphill and it requires momentum to keep pushing. If an uphill hiker has to stop for a downhill hiker, their momentum is shot and they have to start all over again. So if you’re going downhill, give the uphill hiker the right-of-way.

2. When passing someone, let them know

I like to say, “Coming up behind you” about 10 feet or so back once I can tell I’m going to pass them. This avoids akward moments where you’re following too close behind someone who doesn’t know you’re there or scaring some unsuspecting hiker as you bolt around them without warning.

3. If someone is about to pass you, let them

If someone coming up behind you is clearly about to pass you, let them. This isn’t a race and you don’t have to beat anyone to Katahdin. If someone’s about to pass, step all the way off the trail so they don’t have to go around you.

4. Use headphones

Please use headphones for music or podcasts while on trail, as not everyone wants to hear what you are listening to. Sometimes people just want to hear nature and it’s not cool to intrude on that with your favorite album or podcast.

5. But only use one earbud!

Only keep one earbud in and stay away from noise cancelling headphones so you can hear people coming up on you and be more aware of your surroundings.

6. Don’t ask a solo female hiker (if you are a man) where she will be camping

This one should be obvious, but unless you know her well, don’t ask a solo female hiker where she is staying that night. She’ll probably lie to you anyway because it makes sense for a solo woman to not tell a strange man where she is sleeping. Im sure most people ask this with zero ill intentions, but it still makes women uncomfortable. Just don’t do it.

7. Vloggers

Finally, some Youtubers and vloggers may need a refresher on some etiquette related to that but since our own Juliana Chauncey has already written that article, I’ll cite it here.

Please consider a donation to Hike for Mental Health to help fund research and treatment for mental illness:

https://www.hikeformentalhealth.org/hikers/wes-laudemans-at-hike-for-mental-health/

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Comments 3

  • Avatar
    Max Kiel : Mar 16th

    Hey Wes, congrats on making it to Franklin. Sounds like you’re having a great experience so far. Happy trails✌🏻

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Kelly : Mar 16th

    Great etiquette tips, happy to hear you’re doing well and have found a nice group!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Kylie : Mar 16th

    Congrats on the milestone! Great tips, especially number 6. Happy trails!

    Reply

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