Three Weeks on the AT: Rain, Snow, Hail

Having trekked 223 miles in my first three weeks, I’ve experienced 12 inches of rain, two inches of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and hail. I’ve walked through thunder and lightning in all of the above types of precipitation. Endured single digits, teens, and 20-degree temperatures. The best part of it all was that I was prepared and ready. At the end of the day, I was also comfortable. My only negatives are that I missed some spectacular views; Clingmans Dome was too icy to see and I still hate putting on wet underwear, shirt, socks, and shoes first thing in the morning.

Lucky and Catmando.

A good friend of mine asked if I was surprised by the weather. I told him I wasn’t and that I prepared for every contingency I could think of. I hiked over nine miles in crampons and felt safe. I know Mother Nature will throw more at me, but I’m ready for it, and it’s all part of the journey. I can’t control the weather so I’m just going with the flow.

When I finally get a good day, I’m rewarded with amazing views.

The other nifty thing is meeting up with fellow bloggers and You- Tubers that you followed. You meet cool hikers and think you’ll never see them again, and boom, they roll into camp.

Trek trail correspondent Frozen with Catmando.

 

Trek blogger Artemis and Catmando.

 

Equipment overview thus far. I went with a DriDown 19-degree bag with a liner; have never been cold. Decided on cold UA long underwear. Again, a win for an early start. Puffy jacket from REI keeps me warm at day’s end.

My biggest pre-hike struggle was finding the perfect hiking shoe for me. I bought and extensively tried five popular brands. The standout for me was Altra. I strongly advocate buying and minimally hiking with a full pack at least two times for ten to 15 miles with each shoe, and take notes to help evaluate what works for you. For me, the Altras were standouts.

So far everything has performed well except my Altras; they prematurely developed a hole on the right side of my toe box. The fine folks at Altra, no questions asked ( bless your heart Mamie T,. an exceptional service representative). Mamie forwarded me a new pair of Timps on the trail at Standing Bear. To me it’s worth buying quality gear because those companies stand behind their products. Thanks, Altra.

Another shout-out to my trail mentor MavErick, class of 2018, for a solid shakedown that helped me with gear decisions. If you’re planning a hike next year, message me after I finish and I can help you too. It’s what hikers do.

Here’s my pack, supporting Paws of War Florida with every step I take. You can also help by donating on their Facebook page, Paws of War Florida.

Helping both ends of the leash.

Happy trails from Catmando.

 

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Comments 8

  • Avatar
    Beretta and Dave : Mar 16th

    We’re just winding up with Bike Week in Daytona. We are sure glad our weather has been better than yours!!!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Nikki Stavile : Mar 16th

    You’ve already faced so much in your first 200ish miles. Good to know that there are easier days ahead!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Jan : Mar 16th

    John,
    I think that you are doing one “HECK” of a job. I look forward to your posts and pictures, I’m rootin for ya. “HAPPY TRAILS”!
    Jan

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Mav"Eric"k : Mar 16th

    Your rocking the trail! Keep the mindset and attitude and keep respecting the trail and she will lead you all the way home.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    David Hawxwell : Mar 16th

    So good to hear from you, and see the pictures John. We go about our daily lives here, and until we are reminded by a post, we don’t always remember that you are out there in the elements! Keep them coming, and we’ll continue to keep you in our prayers.
    Can’t imagine how you are able to stay warm enough; but you did the homework, and the prep to know what equipment was going to be needed.
    And of course, you always keep moving, and that stokes the internal furnace. Keep on keepin’ on!
    Love, David+Lorraine

    Reply
  • Avatar
    LouAnn Higgins : Mar 16th

    Hi Catmando, I have been reading your posts. I am 60 years old and would like to hike the AT. I would need to train/gear etc. I’m not sure what condition you need to be in. I live not to far from the Kent Conn. AT at the Housatonic river. that is where I would like to train. do you ever pass near there….I would like to start training this.
    spring. Thank you so much. LouAnn

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Michael Darsch : Mar 17th

    Good luck to all your walking into mud season . How do hikers get s cell signal in the boonies? There were no cell phones when I hiked the at back in 1992 . Riyardbird

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Mamie T : Mar 18th

    So glad your replacement Altra Timp’s made it to you on your trek! Loving following you and reading about your adventure! A second pair of Altra’s will be waiting for you at home when you get back. If I can help in any other way you know how to get in touch with me!! Embrace the Space – Mamie

    Reply

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