Rainy Days That Felt Like Sunshine: Days 0–2 on the AT!

Day -1: Michigan to Georgia

My parents drove me all the way to Georgia from Michigan (how very midwest of us). I-75 was blanketed in a dense fog but I’m happy to report that the rush hour/construction combo around Ann Arbor wasn’t too bad.

It was a peaceful ride: We spotted some cows and drove by lots of farms. My eighth grade English teacher sent me a poem she wrote that made me cry. I ate a really good apple and my mom really wanted to play a road trip game — riveting stuff. When we got close to Amicalola, I rolled down my window and breathed in the damp forest. So much to notice in the backseat of my parents’ car.

After eating at Amicalola Falls Lodge, I ended up leaving a few items with my parents to take home. I pared down my first aid kit slightly and reconsidered some food items, among other things.

Before bed, I noticed a couple lady bugs in our room; I took them to mean good luck.

Day 0: Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain Shelter; 9 miles

The energy of Day 0 felt like the first day of summer camp!

My parents and I ate breakfast at the Lodge. Being my last meal before starting the AT, I filled up on waffles, a fruit bowl, and potatoes. We happened to sit next to another table of thru-hikers (hi Jolly, Joyride, Sideways, and Snack Size!!). Second Wind also stopped by our table to introduce herself. Meeting all these friendly and kind-hearted humans made my momma feel much more at ease.

After brekkie, we went down to orientation at the visitor’s center and I got my hiker tag! A very exciting milestone.

See ya, civilization!

My mom hiked the beginning of the Approach Trail with me. Because some of the stairs were closed for restoration, we hiked up the West Ridge Trail… except we missed the trailhead and walked up the road for about a mile by accident instead. Oh well, we got where we needed to go and enjoyed the cool mist of the falls before trudging up more steps.

It was hard to say goodbye to my mom and dad, but once I was on my own for about thirty minutes, I just felt this overwhelming sense of being exactly where I’m supposed to be. My brain felt so full before starting the AT, like a pot of boiling water bubbling over. I feel relieved that all I have to do right now is hike.

The hike up to Springer wasn’t as difficult as I’d anticipated, but was definitely challenging! The additional weight of my food and water affected my pace, but by the latter half of the day I felt like I was just chuggin’ along. I also took the advice of a fellow hiker (who we’ve since named Spicy) and stopped about every 1-2 hours to sit down to take off my pack and shoes.

I didn’t expect to make it all the way to Springer today, especially with a later start time this morning. But here we are. It felt good!

The first white blaze of the AT!

At the end of the day, I was filtering water and turned off airplane mode on my phone. One of my best friends called to tell me he was proud of me for doing this big thing. I didn’t tell him that his words made me tear up because he would’ve given me crap for it (I’m a crier). But if he reads this blog, he’ll know how much it meant to me. Then proceed to give me crap about it.

One foot in front of the other. It’s 7:26pm; I’m tired.

Day 1: Springer to Hawk Mountain Shelter; ~8 miles

I unzipped my tent this morning and saw some gnarly trees peeking through the fog.


After a quick brekkie of a fruit pouch, trail mix, and Carnation Instant Breakfast (mixed in water, ew), I started my day. It was super humid. Not five minutes after leaving the shelter, I peeled off my hiking pants and put them in my backpack.

Not good, not terrible

Coming from Michigan, I keep feeling surprised by how colorful everything is. The rocks shone silver whenever the sun made an appearance and the dark green rhododendron leaves clapped and shuddered against one another in the wind.

I brought a rain jacket and a poncho to figure out my preference. TBH, I think I’m leaning toward the poncho. Draped over my pack, it’s giving Hunchback of Notre Dame vibes, but I’m here for it.

There was a storm coming through in the afternoon, so some of us at Springer planned to meet about eight miles away at Hawk Mountain to weather the storm in the shelter. I hiked alone all morning, but passed (or was passed by) familiar faces along the way. I also met ridge runners Moxie and Chelsea and a trail maintainer named Woody.

Once I got to Hawk Mountain around 12:30 or so, all I had to do was get more water, eat some lunch, and watch the rain. It was a slow afternoon. Every time someone walked up to the shelter, we shifted to make space. Beautiful, collective, something so natural.

Staying dry as the storm rolled through with this shelter crew!

I slept in the shelter’s loft alongside Lauren and Nebula. I felt so safe and cozy. I also felt grateful for earplugs so I didn’t hear the mice downstairs. 🙂 

Day 2: Hawk Mountain Shelter to Woody Gap; 12 miles

I hiked with a group today, so I didn’t keep the best notes.

It was refreshing to feel like I could hike my own pace but still be near other humans. I loved spending time with Teddy, Spicy, Lauren, Nebula, and Patrick. Today felt like three days in one, and I feel like I’ve known these people forever somehow. Everyone I’ve hiked with has been incredibly open-hearted and warm.

Heeding my dear friend Kylie’s advice, I’ve been trying to keep my pace nice and steady — no matter how fast or slow I’m going. I was proud of myself for doing just that up and over Sassafras aside from a few water breaks here and there. My hiking crew liked the consistency on the climbs, so I ended up being a pacesetter of sorts a couple times.

After that, we were treated to cruisey miles of lush green forest. I couldn’t believe I was in Georgia.

At the end of the twelve-mile day, we happened upon our first TRAIL MAGIC!!  Water Pants, Alan, and another guy whose name I didn’t catch (I’m so sorry!!) grilled up hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers!!!, and provided so many snacks. They didn’t accept money — they just wanted us to sign their guest book and share why we were hiking the AT. You already know I cried.

Won’t turn down a free White Claw

Tonight, Teddy, Spicy, Lauren, and I are staying at Above the Clouds Hostel where we ran back into Wild Freeman, Jelly Donut, and Jolly. The hot shower was glorious after all the rain and it’s nice to have clean clothes again (I don’t anticipate stopping at a hostel again for a while). 

Before bed, I taught Teddy to play backgammon and we met father-son duo Matt and Ethan! Wishing them the very best adventure as they finish their Georgia section hike. They say, “Hi, Mom!!”

A close one 👀

Ok, bedtime. Tomorrow we have first breakfast at the hostel and second breakfast at Woody Gap before pushing over Blood Mountain to Neels Gap. We’re becoming hobbits. I think a zero is in my (near) future.

Lastly, please forgive me for any typos — I’m writing and posting these blogs from my phone 😊

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Comments 18

  • Tom : Mar 10th

    Sounds like you’ve had a great first couple of days on trail. Keep it up and keep having fun.

    • Steve : Mar 10th

      Water doesn’t really cut it with breakfast essentials. You need some powdered milk to make those right, and you can put a little extra powdered milk for extra protein. Walmart sells a box of quart packages. I hate Mac and cheese dinners with the cheese powder, but I buy them anyway just for the cheese powder packs which work well in cheese grits, mashed potatoes or anything you want some cheese flavor added. Small pastas like orzo or acini de pepe cook or soak faster than most noodles and are ok with powder milk and powder cheese. Freeze dried chives in the spice aisle do wonders to instant mash potatoes. Those little cartons of hungry jack shredded potatoes aren’t bad either as hash browns or with powder milk and powder cheese like au gratin potatoes

      Enjoy your hike.

      • Steve : Mar 10th

        Somehow that wound up as a reply to a comment rather than a top level comment.


        • Mo Wynne : Mar 10th

          Thanks for the tips, Steve!

    • Mo Wynne : Mar 10th

      🙏 thanks, Tom!

  • Mary Wynne : Mar 10th

    Trail Magic! That must have been the best! 🥰 I can feel your excitement and energy while reading these posts. I love this for you! Keep on trekking! ♥️

    • Mo Wynne : Mar 10th

      It was the best! And so kind.

  • Heather : Mar 10th

    Thanks so much for the “shout out”- I’m the “Mom” that goes with Matt and Ethan! It looks like you are having such an amazing time, the pics are beautiful! We will be following your adventure and cheering you on!

    • Mo Wynne : Mar 10th

      Hi Heather! Matt and Ethan were great to chat with at our first hostel stay! Hope they have a blast this week.

  • Aunt Lori : Mar 10th

    Hi Mo. Sounds like you are exactly where you are supposed to be. This will be certainly one of the greatest adventures of your life so enjoy every bit of it! Smiled when I saw the backgammon board and thought of the games we played while you were here in Jan/Feb. Pretty sure you won all those matches, but I had a couple good games, right? Talk again soon. ❤️

    • Mo Wynne : Mar 10th

      I think you might’ve won a match or two 😉 Love ya!

  • Phyllis G : Mar 10th

    Wow! You are an inspiration to this old gal! Little jealous of you being down south and missing our 3rd winter here in Michigan! Safe journey and enjoy your hike!

    • Mo Wynne : Mar 10th

      Thanks a bunch, Phyllis!

  • Syd : Mar 10th

    I MUST have the full review in watery carnation instant brekkie;)

    • Mo Wynne : Mar 10th

      Lol you can try some for yourself anytime you want 🙂

  • Marji : Mar 10th

    Mo, my sweet adventurist granddaughter, you know I am a crier too, and I cried thru out your blog, especially when you cried I am so proud and happy for you. (Who said you don’t have it all together?) You are doing what you love When else will you be able to do something like this ? I am enjoying your posts and looking forward to more
    I love you❤️😍❤️ YOU GO GIRL!!1

    • Mo Wynne : Mar 10th

      I love you GRAMMAAAAA

  • Mama Bear : Mar 19th

    Hi Mo,
    My daughter starts in two weeks. I’m enjoying reading your posts. Not only do I enjoy reading about your experiences, but hearing how things are going for you and about all the people you’ve met on the trail and the trail magic makes me feel so much more confidant about her time on the trail and starting as a young woman such as yourself. You’ve made me a little less scared ands a little more excited about the adventure of a lifetime you and soon my daughter will be on. She is dthikestheat on insta and I think she said you follow each other.
    Keep on treking on in safety and good health.
    Best, another trail mama


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