Here’s Why I Won’t Get Lost on the AT

Recently, a woman from our city became separated from her daughter during just a short “walk in the woods” in the Smokies.   Like many, I was carefully watching the progress of the search, hoping that she would soon be found.  Tragically, she was, but no longer living.

My husband says that many friends at home have expressed their concern about me hiking on my own in the AT.  I’d like to lay your fears to rest.

Are you aware of the ten essential items that are strongly suggested for even short hikes?  Do you take them with you?  I plan in the future to carry a modified version of most of them with me even during one- or two-hour hikes in our local county parks. These could prove to be extremely valuable on the off chance of a twisted ankle or a bad fall and no one there to help me until the next day.  And if not needed?  I’ve strengthened my legs a bit more and burned a few extra calories, earning me a celebratory square of dark chocolate.

Here’s the list, and photos of what I’m presently carrying:

1.  Appropriate footwear.

2. Map and compass/GPS.


3.  Extra water and a way to purify it.

4.  Extra food.

5. Rain gear and extra clothing.

6. Safety items:  fire, light, whistle.

7.  First aid kit.

8.  Knife or multipurpose tool.

9.  Sunscreen and sunglasses.

10.  Daypack/backpack. 

Not intending disrespect, but it sounds as if the woman in the Smokies had none of the above items with her. Even “just” a short hike can be disorienting.  In some areas, take less than ten steps away from the trail and you can no longer see it. Go around a bend and you can no longer hear your companion calling for you. Tragic.

In addition to the above, I also have the following with me:

11.  Multiple IDs: driver’s license and insurance cards in waterproof case in my pants pocket and a Road ID on my wrist at all times, showing my info and emergency contacts.

12. Tarp, net tent, insulated air mattress, sleeping bag rated down to ten degrees.

13. Cell phone with Verizon service (the best you can do on the AT) and a battery pack good for four complete charges.

14.   A community of caring backpackers and emergency personnel in nearby trail towns.   By pushing one button on my Spot GPS communicator (which is always on me), I can have an emergency crew by my side within hours.  

Again, I appreciate your concern, but please don’t worry.  I’m  safer here than walking in some nearby neighborhoods of Cincinnati and much less at risk than simply driving down I-75.

I’m fine, but I love you for caring.





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Comments 6

  • Carrie Sparks : Oct 7th

    Ruth, so glad to see you ARE still finding the beauty in the trail and places nearby. At an event yesterday at the Settlers Museum I saw 3 of the ladies you had lunch with in Marion after church. They asked about you, so thought I better check the blog and see how you are doing. The pictures are great. Several SOBOs still passing through. Take care and enjoy and I know you will.

    • Ruth Morley : Oct 7th

      Wow, Carrie, I just now published that new post. Good timing! Yes, I still enjoy every day, although the knees have started noticing downhills more, just like everyone’s. I keep telling folks how much fun I had during my Mhurricane day’s in Marion! Thank you so much for connecting me with people and places. I’ve been to church two more times since then and today was invited out for lunch after church yet again. There are a lot of nice folks around here. I really enjoy it when my zero days fall on a Sunday. Thanks for checking in, Carrie, so glad to hear from you and hope to see you again sometime.

  • Albert Halsey : Oct 8th

    I really enjoy your posts and your pictures.
    Wish you the best on the trail.
    Keep posting and enjoying the trail.
    Take care and God Bless.

    • Ruth Morley : Oct 8th

      Albert, I find it very rewarding when people enjoy my posts. Thank you for sharing that with me. My goal is to record, entertain, inform and inspire. If you’ll keep on reading, i’ll keep on writing.

  • Cindy : Oct 9th

    Great info! I had not known about the road ID. Thanks for sharing; I always learn useful tidbits! I started NOBO in 2018 and had to leave for health reasons. Hoping to go back in 2019.

    • Ruth Morley : Oct 9th

      Cindy, I’m glad you are now aware of Road ID. It never leaves my wrist on this hike, and I always wear it for other outdoor activities too. It’s a great thing for kids to wear too, going to group activities or theme parks, in case they get separated from parents. Good luck getting back on the trail. I know it will happen. Bit by bit, we’ll continue to enjoy this slice of nature.


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