My Most Embarrassing Moments on the Trail
Those who know me in real life and not just from the internet know just how clumsy and awkward I can be. This results in some pretty embarrassing moments in my life. Add my natural clumsiness/awkwardness, and the fact that I hate being the center of attention, to a thru-hike, and you could make a comedy movie. Here are my most ridiculously embarrassing moments from my hike along the Appalachian Trail last year.
In Franklin, NC, you can catch a shuttle right to the trailhead. My friend and I were waiting where we thought the shuttle would stop to pick us up when we saw it drive right past us. We started to run to the actual bus stop. That’s when I tripped on absolutely nothing and fell face first into the asphalt. The worst part was that my instinct was to use my trekking poles to catch myself but they were collapsed since I was in town. I scraped my knees open but still managed to catch the shuttle.
The next time I fell happened to be in Hot Springs. We’d already been there for three and a half days and it was time to leave. I walked down the stairs of the cabin we’d rented and slipped on the last step. Yet again I fell face first into the dirt. I remember everyone shouting, “We’re not taking another zero day!” Luckily, I was unhurt and we made it out of town that day.
When I got to Erwin, TN, I still had only ever fallen in towns in which I’d stayed more than one night in. Somehow I hadn’t fallen on the actual trail yet. One evening my tramily and I went to see the Power Rangers movie. On the walk back to Miss Janet’s house we all joked around, saying that one of them should just push me since I was inevitably going to fall. We’d already been in Erwin a couple days by then. I started walking on the curb and pretended to lose my balance just to mess with everyone.
The next morning we were all getting ready to leave to go slackpack over Beauty Spot. I was walking toward Miss Janet’s van to put my pack in it when I tripped on nothing and fell backward. After I realized I was fine and that I wasn’t hurt, I started laughing. I had my pack on so I looked like an upside down turtle. There were about ten people who witnessed my tumble. And that’s when one of my friends gave me my second trail name. Town Tumbles.
The Butt Bump
In Franklin, NC, there’s a church that will pick you up from some of the hostels/motels in town for a free AYCE pancake breakfast. I was waiting at the end of the driveway for the church shuttle when it started to sprinkle. I decided to run inside to get my rain jacket. It was right on top of my pack so I didn’t bother turning on the lights when I entered the bunkroom. It was light enough in the room that I could tell there was another person in the room. But it was dark enough that he didn’t notice me and I didn’t realize he was in nothing but a towel. As I ran behind the dude, he took his towel off, took a step back, and knocked me into the wall. I grabbed my jacket and ran out of there as fast as I could.
The guy walked down the driveway a few minutes later and started asking the group of hikers, “So which one of you did I just accidentally naked butt-bump?” Of course my friend Pigpen started laughing and pointed him to me, so then everyone knew what had happened. And that’s how I met Two Speed. (Different Two Speed than the one who writes for The Trek).
The Vortex of Hot Springs
The plan was to nero into Hot Springs, take a zero, and then get the hell out of town. That first night we all went to the Spring Creek Tavern. That was the beginning of the end for our plan. You see, the tavern had live music that night. And cheap beer. Music + beer + trail friends = Dance party in the middle of the bar? Even though there wasn’t a dance floor, my friends and I decided to dance anyway. I don’t remember much but I’ve been told that my friend Little Foot and I spent the night stomping our feet and getting strange looks from the locals.
That Time I Forded a River in My Underwear
After summiting Katahdin, my friend Chips and I decided to make up the ~150 mile section of trail we’d skipped in Maine. So we hiked southbound from Monson. When we got to Stratton, we stocked up on food because we’d heard about a huge rainstorm that was supposed to hit. We wanted to make sure we had enough food to take a zero day if we had to wait out the rain before hiking up and over the Saddlebacks. We made it to Spaulding Mountain Lean-to and decided to call it a day.
When we woke up in the morning, everything had ice on it and it was sleeting. We wound up spending three nights in that shelter. You see, the Saddleback mountains are above treeline and there was no way we were going to hike over them in a snowstorm. On the fourth day it finally stopped snowing and raining. There was just one problem. We didn’t have enough food left to get us to Rangeley. We reluctantly turned around and headed back to Stratton. I remember getting past the side trail that goes to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain and that’s when I heard it. The loud roaring sound of a river that used to be a small creek. I told myself that it was just the sound of a waterfall in the distance as I descended.
When I got to the bottom of the mountain I heard Chips say, “Shutterbug, we have a problem.” And a problem we had. The footbridge that we’d used a few days prior was now sideways and about 30 feet downstream. The river was fast and there was no way we were going to cross it. We tried to find a calmer spot downstream but had no luck. So we decided to sleep along the bank and hope that the water level would go down by morning.
The next day we woke up to find that the river hadn’t gone down very much at all. We really needed food so we decided to bushwhack our way downstream to see if there was a better way across. We’d gone about a mile downstream before we found a potential spot to cross. There was a mini waterfall and the river widened at the bottom of it. The water seemed to slow down just enough for it to be somewhat safe to cross.
It was October so the water was freezing and the only pair of dry leggings I had were the ones I was wearing. I knew that the only way to not get hypothermia was to keep them dry and in my pack while I crossed. As I was standing there shivering in my underwear and contemplating my life choices that had led up to this life-threatening moment, I heard Chips start to laugh. I thought he was laughing at me and how absurd I must’ve looked but I soon realized that wasn’t the case.
I looked at the waterfall and could not believe what I was seeing. A duck had gone down the waterfall, popped out of the water, and flew away. Then another one did it. And then a third. Here I was, scared for my life, while some adrenaline junkie birds were going down the raging river just for shits and giggles. I finally worked up the courage to cross and luckily made it to the other side safely despite the water coming all the way up to my waist.
The Time I Pooped My Pants a Little
Anyone who’s hiked the Appalachian Trail knows just how awesome trail magic can be. So just imagine my excitement when I came across some folks giving out taco trail magic. About a mile before the road crossing I’d twisted my ankle pretty bad. It was still hurting so I decided to hang out and enjoy some tacos while I rested it. After about an hour I thanked the lovely trail angels and kept hiking.
I don’t know what it is but for some reason hiking moves food through my stomach fast. After about 20 minutes my stomach was grumbling and I knew I needed to find a place to go. The only problem was that I was in Vermont and it was muddy on either side of the wooden boards I was walking on. And the mud went up to at least my calves. Not only that but there was a pond so I was too close to water to go to the bathroom anyway. I started running but it was too late. I’d already started to shit my pants a little.
But if you didn’t shit your pants did you really hike the Appalachian Trail?
Remember how I said I stayed in that shelter in Maine for three nights? Well, I kinda maybe got a little bit lost one night while staying there. You see, I woke up and felt like I was going to be sick. (Little did I know I had a kidney infection brewing inside me.) I didn’t want to puke close to the shelter and attract wildlife so I ran out as fast as I could. I didn’t have my headlamp, phone, or anything to help me find my way back. It also didn’t help that there was so much fog that I couldn’t even see my hand a foot in front of my face.
After I started to feel better I tried to find my way back to the shelter. After what seemed like ages I realized I was lost. I knew that I’d been walking in circles because I kept passing the spot where I had gotten sick. I started to scream for help. Chips started yelling back at me and that’s when I realized that I was only about ten feet behind the shelter.
That Time I Sent a Photo of My Butt to Marmot
Chips and I had this ritual during the summer where we’d wake up somewhat early and watch an episode of Rick and Morty in his tent before we started packing up our things. One morning I sat and watched as the no-see-ums squeezed their way through his tent’s “no-see-um mesh” and flew directly toward me. Chips was really mad that he’d spent so much money on a tent that couldn’t even keep the bugs out so I decided to take a photo of my bug bites to send to Marmot. Most of my no-see-um bites happened to be on my butt and leg but I sent the photo anyway along with an explanation of how their tent mesh sucks. I’m still waiting for Marmot to get back to me.
I hope you enjoyed my misfortune and that you don’t let it stop you from going on your own wilderness adventures. Because you know, the best memories and stories to share about an adventure are the embarrassing ones.
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