Week One on the Appalachian Trail!

Hello Friends! We have been on the AT for a week now and are already having the time of our lives!!!

WARNING: In Day 3 of journal entries for week one I am sharing our hygiene measures with whoever is interested. If this is something that doesn’t interest you, simply skip scroll down Day 4 ?.

Being outdoors and hiking every day is a dream come true for us. Since we are trying to stay on trail and I am using my phone to blog the formatting will be information first and pictures with captions at the bottom.

Day 0 – Approach Trail

We took a plane, a train, an automobile and then hiked 9 miles up the approach trail.

Ron Brown was an excellent shuttle driver! He quizzed us on our upcoming weeks of hiking and gave us great information, especially regarding water sources.

Spent the night at Springer Mountain shelter area which also has beautiful campsites and comes complete with privy and a bear box.

We encountered some new varieties of rock (quartz) and weren’t sure if they could be trusted in slippery situations.

We met several nice people at the shelter who are also thru-hiking. I feel like a freshman in high school, like I sort of know what to expect but have a lot to figure out.

Today we saw colorful centipedes a pileated woodpecker and a lovely little snail.

Temperatures in the mid 60s very nice for hiking rain held off, in the evening fog rolled in.

Day 1

We hiked 7 miles in the rain.

It was raining when we woke up and our perfect tent site had turned into a muddy puddle. The morning thunder precluded us from wanting to use our umbrellas so we had to hike in just a rain gear and get that soaking wet. (Later it came to thought that the “thunder” may have been artillery training from the army rangers.)

We were in good spirits by the time we arrived at Hawk Mountain shelter for lunch. However, the temperature wasn’t going above the high 30s. We were pretty cold and wet, so we decided to pitch our wet, muddy tent.

After spending several hours trying to warm up our in our tent the sun came out and everyone from the shelter area gathered to enjoy the moment outside.

We heard later of people who had experienced mild hypothermia during that cold rainy time.

Saw a frog cross our path and a giant tree hole that probably housed a bear.

When we look around the inside of our tent, it looks like a whole bunch of garbage but it’s the most important stuff we have.

We are happy to be here!

Day 2

What a beautiful day on the Appalachian Trail! Temperatures were in the low 60s and it was mostly sunny after the fog rolled out.

14 mile day.

We enjoyed a beautiful, misty, mythical, foggy walk in the morning.

We got our first trail magic of a Cadberry egg to celebrate Easter!

We accomplished so much we washed our feet at lunchtime. I had a bird bath at dinner time and we got to dry all of our stuff not to mention practice yoga, and Tai Chi.

We saw a bluebird in the evening at our campsite, and we saw a giant Millipede. Last night we heard several owls we are not sure if all of the calls were from the barred owl.

Day 3

Another beautiful day in the 60’s after a very windy and cold night on the beautiful mountaintop.

We headed up Blood Mountain.

At the bottom we enjoyed congregating at Mountain Crossings with the other hikers, selecting a small resupply and watering up under the watch of an orange cat who loves to lick salty hiker fingers.

We enjoyed a Red Baron cheese pizza and charged our phone. Practiced our Tai chi forms as the orange cat tried to get our attention.

We made it to Baggs Creek to camp at a charming little shanty town.

Self-care on the trail.

The number one way to stay well is to stay hydrated. It is important to check to see where water sources are located. Our day is planned in large part around them.

We brush our teeth twice a day and floss in the evenings. We like toothpaste tabs as they are lightweight and portioned out.

Each day we use a rock salt deodorant. Some would say this is unnecessary but we both feel fresher after application with water.

I like having a pee-rag. It works much better for me than just drip drying. I had brought a lace hanky from home and it turned out to be the perfect pee rag. It dries quickly, is easily washed and has no lingering aroma.

I’ve been using a silicone menstrual cup for the past 6 years and it has saved me hundreds of dollars in disposable feminine hygiene products.

We wash our hands with Dr Bronners unsented soap after we poop. Always away from the water source.

Day 4

14.5 miles! Wow! The terrain lent itself to a steady pace and the sunshine cooked us a bit and helped us to slow down.

Hearing barred owls each evening and enjoying the shade of rhododendron tunnels during the day. Leafless trees make for beautiful mountain views all the time.

Camped at Blue Mountain Shelter.

Day 5

13.5 miles today! Stayed at Addis Gap campsite and had the place to ourselves. Pretty strenuous day but we felt good going up hills.

Saw so many trees today with holes for various wildlife to live in. Some just big enough for a tiny bird, or a squirrel, some for a large owl and even some that could house a bear.

Our umbrellas were helpful in the sunshine.

Water and snack breaks are very good when it starts to get hot.

In the afternoon we walked through the smoky remnants of a controlled burn nearby.

We heard our first Woodthrush for the season! The beautiful glassy, magical call.

I took a tumble on some rocks but came out unscathed.

Day 6

A Nero day of 5.5 miles brought us to Around the Bend Hostel where we have enjoyed many of their amenities.

Very nice accommodations, showers, laundry (towel, washcloth and loaner clothes provided), food for purchase, free coffee and comfortable spaces. This place has it all!

We do not use a stove which makes things easier for us.

Aside from easy to eat foods like snacks, tortillas and peanut butter, we soak dehydrated meals. But what a treat enjoying a hot dehydrated meal for dinner!

We have our plan for the next few days and have rested up. We are ready!

Away we go!!!


We used my dad’s old navy duffel bag to pack items that we weren’t able to carry on.
Ron Brown picked us up from the MARTA station and gave us excellent information on our shuttle ride up to the approach trail.
Amicalola Falls
Rain all day and temps in the 30s encouraged us to set up camp early on day 1 (9 miles on approach trail is considered day 0). We heard many reports of mild hypothermia happening on this day.
Then the sun came out for four days straight!
Water trail magic set up to help hikers through a dry stretch.
This all looks like garbage but it is the most important stuff I own.
Orange kitty loves to lick salty hiker fingers.
Looks like some sort of foot.
Time for a Nero day (5.5 miles) and a little break at Hostel Around the Bend. Fantastic place to stay!!!!

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Comments 4

  • Megan A Irvine : Apr 17th

    You both look great for having been on the trail for a week!

    • Laura Budde : Apr 30th

      Thanks, Megan! We are doing our best to take care of ourselves.

  • Christine Bellesis : Apr 20th

    Greetings Laura and Paul!!

    ? ? ? your blog is so much fun to read! I feel like I’m having a vicarious experience of trekking the AT! And fog showed up! I am enjoying hearing about all the wildlife you’re encountering. Keep on keeping on!
    A question: one of your shortbQigong videos pushed in from YouTube. Have you made any more videos? I want to make sure that I will get all of the ones that you do.

    Love love love,


    • Laura Budde : Apr 30th

      Hello Christine!!! I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog! It is great to have you and Fog with us on our journey.
      I posted a video called Chapter 1 on Youtube yesterday and while it isn’t a qigong practice it is a nice mix of short videos and pictures from the trail.
      More qigong on the AT to come!!!
      Sending you so much love and light??


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