When the Pre-Trail Jitters Melt Away

The Anxious Anticipation

In the three days before I started, I had increasing stress and anxiety about starting my thru-hike. I had a hard time sleeping and was really worried about the physical challenge and making friends. It was also really difficult to say goodbye to my parents, who I had lived with over the past year. My dad brought me to Georgia and stayed with me for two days, which was amazing. I was so excited for the new journey, but fear of the unknown was really getting to me. I wish I had some sage advice on how to manage this, but honestly getting started on my hike was the best medicine.

The First Day

The day before I started, I decided that I would do the approach instead of starting at Springer Mountain. I started at the top of the stairs and headed out. Almost immediately, imposter syndrome kicked in and I became increasingly concerned that I couldn’t do it (yes, the approach trail is that hard). Some early trail magic and kind words from a former thru-hiker boosted my spirits and I made it through the first night.

The First 30 Miles

Over the first few days, I started to see familiar faces and hike with a few people. The endorphins from hiking all day coupled with the kindness from almost everyone on the trail made my early nerves evaporate. There is definitely some stress around getting a spot at the shelter each night (especially because I like to tent nearby shelters), but people are always willing to wiggle and let you set up nearby.

That all being said, the nights on trail so far have been brutally cold. It has been very windy at higher elevation and been well below freezing with wind chill. Even with my 10-degree sleeping bag, liner, and cold weather sleeping pad, I’ve been cold and awake most of each night. I’m hoping my trail-sleep kicks in faster than my trail legs. 

Neel Gap 

The first major milestone for thru-hikers, Neel Gap, is a resupply stop with a well-stocked outfitter (got to replace my heavy Walmart tent stakes!) and cabins nearby. My friends and I stayed in the Blood Mountain Cabins and did a lot of our resupply at their country store. The store is much cheaper than Mountain Crossings and has a lot of the same staples and a hiker box. The cabins had a great hiker rate and included laundry. I definitely recommend summiting Blood Mountain early and snagging a cabin here when they open. It was a great Nero day that has me ready for the next short stretch.

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 3

  • John Sage : Apr 1st

    Good luck Maya stay strong and you’ve got this. Just always know ulyouve got a lot of people rooting for you. There you go som Sage advice. Ps old old friend of your Dads.

    Reply
  • Joey O'Neill : Apr 2nd

    Im here to commend you on your admiration for even consideration of facing such and enduring adventure, No one could of done this for you but You and I just wanna say YOU got this even when your telling yourself You don’t or You Can’t… Your A Warrior, Not an Excuse 💚

    Reply
  • Katie : Apr 2nd

    Love reading about your progress! So glad you’ve found some trail mates! Enjoy each step Maya!

    Reply

What Do You Think?