Welcome to Georgia, Here’s Your Norovirus: Week One

I’m discovering you’re never going to know the main theme of a trail blog till you make it through a whole week. Will it be the nerves of starting this new adventure? Starting the hike during a solar eclipse? Hiking up and down Blood Mountain in a torrential downpour? Making your first trail friends? No. It’s going to the be the endless vomiting that takes you off trail for three days right when you start to get the hang of things.

Let’s Backtrack For A Second

Taking a look at the eclipse before setting off on trail.

Day One on trail was as momentous as I could have imagined it. My entire family was with me as I checked in at the Amicolola Falls State Park, took pictures at the infamous arch, and turned back to the car, happily skipping the approach trail. While a controversial decision, I have had no regrets about starting on Springer Mountain. I have plenty of miles ahead of me the next few months, and after hearing the experiences of other hikers on trail, I don’t feel as though I’ve missed anything.

With my family by my side, I touched my first white blaze on the top of Springer Mountain. I could feel the excitement buzzing in me. Together, we had one last meal at the trailhead parking lot under the shadow of a solar eclipse. What a way to start my hike. Saying goodbye was hard, but the moment I started hiking I knew this was where I was meant to be.

Acclimating To the Trail

After hiking a little over seven miles, I reached Hawk Mountain campsite where an overwhelming sense of imposter syndrome fell over me. All these other hikers must know more about backpacking than I do. I barely spoke to anyone.

I hiked up and down Blood Mountain under pouring rain!

“Hike your own hike. Hike your own hike. Hike your own hike,” I kept whispering to myself the next morning as I started my day. But why was I so upset that I was the last person to leave camp? Why was I getting frustrated when someone passed me on trail as I was eating a snack? My own self-doubt was making me feel like I was losing a race no one else had entered.

My fears were unfounded, as everyone I spoke to was incredibly kind and welcoming. However, I still spent my first few days hiking alone. I quite enjoyed the solitude. I wandered through the clouds of Georgia feeling empowered by the start of my journey. Thankful for the research I had done beforehand, I felt comfortable in my gear despite hiking through pouring rain for hours at a time. I was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

It wasn’t until Day 5 that I made my first real trail friend. The idea of hiking with another person had originally stressed me out. I didn’t want to have to keep pace with someone, potentially feeling rushed or held back. However, Stella and I matched each other’s rhythm perfectly. I had met Stella on Day One at Hawk Mountain, where I spoke with her and her brother, Preston, for some quick introductions. I didn’t get to know them until a few days later when Stella and I hiked the majority of the day together, making endless conversation as we got to learn about one another.

Stella and I at the top of Cowrock mountain.

Quick Friendships. Quick Goodbyes.

Part of trail is learning how to make new friends quickly and how to be okay with the possibility of your time together being short. As I alluded to earlier, I unfortunately caught a case of norovirus Day 6 on trail. In order to recover and make sure I did not spread anything to other hikers, I took a shuttle into town as soon as I could. For now, I’ll be parting with my first friends on trail, but I’m hopeful we’ll cross paths again in the future.

My mom, ever devoted to parenting, drove six hours from home to spend time with me and help me recover. They warned us about Norovirus, and I promise I listened. I washed my hands with soap frequently (away from water sources) and didn’t share food or prepare food for anyone else. Turns out the trail doesn’t discriminate. I’m thinking that common areas – hostels, shelters, picnic areas – were my downfall.

Nothing a visit from mom and a sleeve of saltines can’t fix!

In Summary

This first week on the AT has been an adventure to say the least. I’m grateful to all the people I’ve already met along the way, and I am excited to get to know everyone I have yet to meet. I’m thankful to my amazing support system, especially my family, which continuously reminds me that I will always be taken care of when I need it. I am looking forward to getting back on trail, meeting new people, and not throwing up my trail magic meals.

Talk soon,


Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 8

  • Chris : Apr 22nd

    Norovirus seems to be worse on the trail this year than previous years. Sorry to hear about your predicament. Kudos to your mom for making that drive and helping out.

  • Jingle bells : Apr 23rd

    Way to keep the optimism despite the bad luck norostart!

  • Pamela payne : Apr 23rd

    Bless your heart….So glad you are better! I believe that a mother’s love is our first glimpse of Jesus.❤

  • Ham : Apr 23rd

    “Stella and I at the top of Cowrock mountain.” Stella and ME at the top of Cowrock mountain.

  • Yoyo : Apr 23rd

    Quite a memorable first week! Hoping for a speedy recovery and a healthy few months to come <3

  • Yoyo : Apr 23rd

    Quite a memorable first week! Hoping for a speedy recovery and a healthy few months to come <3 <3

  • Pamela payne : Apr 24th

    So sorry to read of your setback …nothing like a mother’s love!

    Would love to hear about what you eat.❤🙏

  • John "Tercius" Rutkowski : May 1st

    So how are you doing?

    It’s been a gap. Did you get back on the trail,?

    I’ve finished up my 300km on two Caminos.

    Hike your own hike!


What Do You Think?