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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. Don’t underestimate toilet paper needs. Pretty self explanatory, very terrible. God bless our fellow hiker that provided some until we could resupply!
  7. 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:

Starting at Amicolola

Starting at Amicolola

Blue blaze to Long Creek falls

Blue blaze to Long Creek falls

Atop Blood Mountain

Atop Blood Mountain

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Comments 8

  • Avatar
    Tatanka : Mar 15th

    Keep it up and thanks for sharing! In the Corp World now too but one day when I lose some of my responsibly I will hopefully hit the AT.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Laura Pattison : Mar 15th

    thanks for sharing. Keep up the positivity! Looking to start my 3 year journey to finish the AT later this spring.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Irvin Valle (coach) : Mar 15th

    Like reading about a married couple on the trail since my wife and I are also planning a thru hike. Keep your posts coming and your feet moving.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mischa Egolf : Mar 28th

      Thanks Irvin! It’s a great experience that I think has already strengthened our relationship. Best of luck in your planning!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Bob Rogers : Mar 16th

    What Irvin said… How’s the difference in hiking pace working out? The gf and I will be doing a thru in ’17. She’s worried that she’ll “hold me back”. Luggage from her ex. He needs a swift kick in the ass!! Anywho, we’ve been on a few shake down hikes since meeting. I would have been worried after our first hike but she’s come a long way since then. I don’t see it being a problem; she’s worth waiting for.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mischa Egolf : Mar 28th

      Hey Bob, thanks for reading! I’m naturally a little slower so I just hike behind and get caught up if needed. I think if you go into it with a good plan, you won’t have any trouble 🙂 Happy planning!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Brenda : Mar 18th

    Thanks for sharing. My son is two days behind you and just hit his first big town yesterday and enjoyed the shower and green beer. Funny because he’ always goes out on St. party’s day and he was in bed at 8. Good luck to you and have fun. He just earned his trail name and if you meet the White Rabbit, tell him mom says what up hoe!. :o)

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Brenda : Mar 18th

      Oh my goodness, sorry for the last part of my comment. My son was being funny and put in that saying so anytime I type “what up hoe!” It writes that instead and I can’t figure out how to delete it. Anyway, as I said enjoy the experience and it’ll be something you look back at forever.

      Reply

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