Week One: 7 Lessons
Well, it finally happened…we started hiking! We’ve been on the trail for one week now and today is the first stop in civilization. Although there are countless anecdotes and observations I could share, I’ll just condense into the top 7 lessons to keep it fresh. But first, some data!
Start date: March 8
Total miles: 69.6 + approach trail
Number of showers: 1 (today!)
Current location: Hiawassee, GA
So far, the experience has mostly been even better than I expected. Of course, there have been some unexpected bumps… simultaneously shivering and sweating the first night certainly made me question my decision to sleep in a tent for six months. But what’s been on my mind this week has been how many things I’ve already learned:
- People are crazy nice. We’ve already been shown such kindness from other hikers, previous hikers providing trail magic, and people in town. We got some toilet paper when it was much needed (see below), hot dogs and beer on a foggy morning, and offers for rides and generally nice treatment in town today. I hope that other hikers will take heed of this and not take advantage of the generosity being offered!
- Bear cables aren’t just for bears. They are for mice. We learned this after awakening in the wee hours of the morning to rustling just outside our tent. We had heard about mice at the shelters, but never imagined they would be an issue in a tent far from a shelter. But, we turned on a headlamp to a mouse on the side of our tent. Horrifying. We got up and hung our bags real quick.
- Things will (almost) always look better in the morning. After a long day and some random pain in a muscle running from my hip to my knee, we were making a plan for the next day. We wanted to have another stretch day in terms of mileage to get closer to town, but I was worried about my leg and rain was in the forecast. I had a minor breakdown, because I really wanted to make the miles and get that much closer to town, but I was concerned about injuring myself and dealing with the rain. In the end, it did rain in the morning, but my leg was fine and we had a great day of hiking. Fear was messing with my head because I was worn out. From now on I’ll sleep on it before worrying too much.
- Always assume it will rain. From day one, we were terrified of the deadly combo of rain and cold. It’s been insanely warm (70+ degrees!), but we know the danger of being cold and wet. Despite this, on our third night out it unexpectedly rained overnight and everything was outside the tent in our bags. Thankfully our compactor bags did their job and our essential items were dry, but we learned our lesson and kept anything we needed dry in the tent moving forward.
- Check your site before leaving each morning. We learned this one by accidentally leaving our body powder at the shelter near our camp spot. When trying to get going for the day, it’s easy to forget these little things!
- Don’t underestimate toilet paper needs. Pretty self explanatory, very terrible. God bless our fellow hiker that provided some until we could resupply!
- Being flexible and listening to your body is important. When we started, we said we would take it slow and do 10 miles or less each day. As we adjusted and found our pace, we discovered that we are pretty good at slow but steady, which means we would hit 10 miles still feeling good and with time to spare. This allowed us to adjust our schedule and hit town sooner than expected! I anticipate that moving forward, there will be many situations that require flexibility, which is why we didn’t spend too much time planning every detail of the trip. After all, it’s supposed to be fun!
Well, tomorrow we get moving again. We are so excited to get to North Carolina and share more! In the meantime, here’s a couple shots:
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