Stumbling and Bumbling

Do you know how people say the trail provides?

Yeah, well, the trail didn’t wait long, before it started providing lessons like Miss Frizzle and the magic school bus.

So I will share some of my main takeaways from this week’s lessons. I want to let you know it is, in fact, okay to laugh at my pain. God knows my wife did.

Not in the Army anymore.

So I’ve been planning the logistics of my hike for a while now. The only problem is I let old army brain Nick plan the trip. You know, the soldier that could do a 12 Mile ruck with a full battle load and loaded rucksack in 3 hours. Now I’ve always been a bit of a fat kid, and that was hell on Earth to get that done. But it still got done. So naturally, I figured I could mosey 10 miles a day. That’ll be easy, I told myself. Well more like I lied to myself.

I want to petition somebody to change the name of the Appalachian Trail to the Appalachian Mountain Trail. That way, dummies like me, would not overestimate our capabilities, and you would understand that these inclines and declines ain’t no punk bitch. This is hard!

 I’m a bit of an airhead

So I’ve never been accused of being Albert Einstein, But if you let me tell it, I think I’m at least smarter than the average bear. Sometimes. When I got my credit card in the mail and cut up the new one, and put the old one in my pocket, that was not one of those times. Since that happened, I contacted my credit card company. To have it forward to where I would be in Georgia. Naturally, it didn’t get there on time. So I’m putting in an extra day or two at above the clouds hostel, enjoying some time off my feet waiting for that to show up. So that cost me some time and miles. Another example that comes to mind is my not double-checking to ensure I have all my gear after a water stop. Nothing will deflate you as fast as summiting a mountain. Having a breathtaking view greet you with the sun finally peaking its sleepy head out of the clouds. Only to realize you left your Ray-Bans at the last spot you refilled your H2O.

So I’m learning to take better inventory of my immediate surroundings because bonehead mistakes might mean you have to redo a mountain.


I earned my trail name

This is the part where my wife laughed at me.

Being the ultimate armchair quarterback that I am. I critiqued all these gear videos about people saying what you do and do not need out here. Many of these critiques, my wife would say, “well, you probably shouldn’t talk cuz you haven’t done it yet,” and I was like, “yeah, but this is dumb. Why wouldn’t you just do this?” Well, I found out why you wouldn’t just do that. That reason is that shit is heavy. All those little luxury items and everything I thought I would be enjoying life with out here haven’t really worked out. I mean, I am thankful for my chair because there’s been a few times when there were no seats at camp, and I did not want to park it in the mud.

So on day 3, I called Above the Clouds hostel to come pick me up from Cooper’s Gap because I was dying with all the weight on my back. The good people who run the hostel agreed to help me do a little light pack shake-down because 50 lb is a little ridiculous. When I set my bear canister on the dining room table where they feed everybody, my bear canister might as well have been a Mary Poppins bag because it filled up the entire table with groceries. This is when Lucky, the hostel owner, and Disco, a through hiker herself, bestowed upon me the moniker of Groceries

Things that made me hit the breaks

So far, has this been way more challenging than I expected? Yes. Have I found myself leaning on a boulder, yelling,”This is fucking crazy!”? Yes. Am I missing my wife way more than I thought I would? Yes. I’m not going to lie. It didn’t take long to have some moments out here. That made me wonder if maybe a section hike was more my thing.

It’s not all hard. Some things were really cool.

Like when I got to one of the first scenic views that completely took my attention and made me stop, that was the first moment I was like. Oh yeah, that’s why. I found a cute little salamander or newt don’t really know the difference. I don’t really care, but here’s a picture of the little fella.

I’ve had little sparrows and robins and centipedes, and all kinds of little critters catch my attention and make me appreciate being outdoors. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the opportunity to eat lunch at a waterfall with your feet in the water. But if you haven’t, you should try it.

Sir Issac Newt-n or salamander the great

We’re figuring it out.

Six days I’ve been out on the trail. According to my original schedule that I planned for myself, I am 30 mi behind already.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a bit of an overpacking situation and overcompensation for one’s abilities. So the first three days, I averaged a little under 5 mi, and I was hurting at the end of those. Then I did a slackpack day to see that it was the weight on my back and not the mountain that was killing me. The inclines still sucked that day, but I did 8 mi in like 4 hours, so that was pretty good for the psyche—the next day with my pack down to 38 lb. I did close to 13 miles. I ended that day dragging my legs and tripping over every stump I saw. I then proceeded to set my tent up in the pouring rain. I then put my bear canister at the front of my tent. Hoping that bears didn’t move in that kind of weather because I didn’t feel like putting it outside. I passed out at 6:30 and woke up the following day at 7:00.

So I’m figuring out how to move up and down the mountains.

I’m trying to do it without unaliving myself. I’m getting better at packing the pack more efficiently. My tent looks nicer and nicer every time I set it up. I’m learning not to pass up water sources. I’m learning what clothes to wear when I’m going to sweat. Learning that waterproof isn’t a thing when it comes to rain gear.

Surprisingly, I’m learning that for the first time in my life, I’m not really hungry, which is really weird. It’s a new experience to have to force myself to eat something.

If you give me another couple of weeks out here, I’ll be an actual hiker, and I’ll be able to stop handicapping myself so much out here.

So after week one, 32.4 mi will have to do


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Comments 10

  • Ruth Anne Collins : Feb 27th

    That’s quite a respectable distance, 32.4 miles, so hang in there. These are all good things to be learning. See you on the trails soon!

  • Nick Clark : Feb 27th

    Thank you! I appreciate the encouragement!!

  • Wanda Hale : Feb 27th

    Enjoy. I get it. I day hike for now, camp in campgrounds close to trails. I too take too much stuff, feeling I’d rather have and not need than to need and not have and prefer to be prepared. My husband laughs at me but I have had to ‘share’ my extra things with him several times. Last week we hiked 8.45 miles carrying 30 lb packs. When we got home, I started weighing and pulling out some extras and changing out the heavier items for lighter ones. Hope to see you out there when you pass through VA.

  • Jake (StoneCold) : Feb 27th

    Keep it up man! It’s so worth the journey! I’d be out there tomorrow if I could!

  • Michael Brown : Feb 27th

    You are definitely making respectable miles, and you started plenty early to make it, especially since I’m sure pace will increase with time. Also, your hunger will find you, no need to go looking for it now. Have a fantastic journey. I’ll be out there in a few weeks, maybe run into you along the way.

  • Julie : Feb 27th

    Loving your entertaining style of writing. I’m looking forward to reading about your adventures to Maine. Please stay on trail so we couch thru readers can come along. We’re living it through you! You’ve got this!!!!

    • Nick Clark : Feb 28th

      Thanks I’ll do my best!!

  • Allyssa : Feb 28th

    You’re writing is hilarious! I am so happy to hear you’re figuring things out though! I’ll be following along (both here and on the trail–heading out in about a week). Keep going!!

  • Ingrid : Mar 1st

    I have done a lot of hiking, trekked a few weeks in Nepal. We had a porter which made life super easy, but we still carried things. Hindsight…took too much to begin with, so move over on your overpacking island. Not alone! We did 100 miles in 2 weeks. The first days were rough! You’ll get your “sea legs”. Looking forward to reading more of your journey.

  • Tamela Story : Mar 1st

    We are supper proud of you!! Keep going!!


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