Snot Rockets, Hail, and a Person in a Drawstring Bag

The first section of the Appalachian Trail did not disappoint. It brought crazy weather, beautiful weather, awesomeness, grossness, and weirdness.

The Lowdown

Day one: Amicalola to Stover Creek Shelter – mile 2.8

Day two: Stover Creek Shelter to Gooch Mountain Shelter – mile 15.8

Day three: Gooch Mountain Shelter to Lance Creek Campsite – mile 23.9

Day four: Lance Creek to Neel Gap – mile 31.3

You Can Get Used to Being Gross

Snot rockets are disgusting things that fourth-grade boys do. And, apparently, thru-hikers. I mean, toilet tissue is a hot commodity out here and it can’t possibly be wasted on blowing your nose. I knew I was going to get gross by not showering daily and wearing the same clothes day after day but I didn’t prepare myself for dealing with a runny nose. I’m not sure if it’s grosser to blow a snot rocket or to keep wiping snot onto your gloves all day long, but either way, hikers have to make a choice; something must be done about the perpetual drip.

Handwashing laundry at Neel Gap.

Humans (or Zombies) in Bags

Yes, you did, in fact, read this correctly. A couple of us were just hiking along, enjoying the day, and off to our right we see a big field and a short path leading to it. Naturally, I take the path to check it out. A big, open, empty field. Empty except for a person completely concealed inside a drawstring bag. Literally, completely concealed; the drawstring was pulled shut over the top of this person’s head. We could only tell it was a person because it was a form-fitting bag and we could tell by the shape that it was someone lying down. He/she/it was motionless until I said something out loud and then they sat up. Just sat up. Didn’t move otherwise, didn’t remove the bag, and didn’t speak. Just sat there. We hightailed it out of there. Later, another hiker suggested that it was part of a military drill because there is some kind of military training that goes on through that first section of the trail, but I’d like to know what training entails a person to hang out inside a bag, alone, in the middle of a field. So far, this is the creepiest thing I’ve seen on trail and I hope nothing tops it.

A Warm-Weather Welcome

I’ve read over and over again about preparing for weather, and rain, on the AT. I had not read about hail. But hail it did. A day one welcome from the Appalachian Trail. Luckily, we had already gotten to the shelter but were a few tenths of a mile away filtering water when the flash hailstorm hit. I clumsily ran back to the shelter slipping in my camp shoes and saved filtering water for later. That night was incredibly cold and windy and I wore every layer sleeping, minus my rain gear, and still felt chilled. I thought I would wait to get my sleeping bag liner for right before the Smokies but have decided to send for it sooner. Otherwise, the weather has been very pleasant. Overall, the hikers’ starting this past week lucked out with a string of sunny days.


Spirits are high after the first four days. I’m not as sore as I thought I would be and my pack feels good. I’ve heard  a lot of talk about Blood Mountain but I thought it was an awesome hike. We’ll see what the trail brings next! Happy hiking.


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Comments 3

  • Nicki : Apr 12th

    Hey Kristen!

    I am also a half Midwesterner (Michigan), half New Englander (Maine) – and I am so glad I found your journal! My husband and I will be following along and cheering you on from southern Maine – and when you get up this way and hit the hard stuff, let us know if you need anything! We’re familiar with the trail up here and will be happy to bring a little trail magic your way. Happy hiking!

    • Kristen Fiedler : Apr 14th

      What a nice thing to say! Thank you!

      • Nicki : Apr 21st

        HAHA – this post made me laugh because I’ve launched a snot rocket or two hiking in the Whites. They’re gross – and they’re necessary. And you are so right about the perpetual drip.

        I guess this storm that just went through was a doozy – hope you are safe and dry – or at least drying out. Wishing you godspeed to outrun the zombies. 🙂

        And happy hiking!


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