First week on the Appalachian Trail 

Pre Trail 

Packing last minute was stressful but efficient. Enjoyed the road trip down to Georgia with my brother,  thankful he drove me down. We camped near the parking lot that’s 1.1 mile into the trail and had a nice fire. Met Ethan, the bass player for Sierra Hull. Got a good night’s sleep. 
Day one 

Woke up and walked 1.1 miles south to the official starting point at Springer mountain, was happy I skipped the approach trail. My brother came with me, it was sweet being able to start with him. Walked back to the car and said goodbye, I tried talking him into dropping out of college and coming with me but I guess I’m not that influential. I forgot toothpaste so I brushed my teeth with ashes from the fire. Then remembered that I peed on the fire to put it out the night before. Walked 6.3 more miles to Hawk Mountain tent sites. I went at a slow pace to save my legs and spent most of the day with Shelby, an older man who is also from Indiana. The trees and plants were beautiful, and I loved how varied the landscape was. There were about 30 people scattered around the tent sites, everyone was friendly. Setup my tarp (using just a tarp, no tent) it kept me dry during the the thunderstorm that night. I was a little worried how it would hold up, never tried tarping before, but I have full confidence in it now. Got to camp around 4 that day. Ate my food, which was just some “cookies” I made at my brothers by mixing together a pound of butter, a dozen eggs, honey, 2 pounds of rice, a pound of oats and a pound of whey protein. They tasted alright, very dry but lots of calories. Then I relaxed for a bit, climbed a tree, listened to music, journaled, thanked God for all his blessings and fell asleep as soon as the sun went down. Perfect first day. 

My shelter setup. 

Day 2

Got an early start, woke at 730 and was packed and moving by 8. Hiked alone for a few hours, then with Marshmallow, Chris, Tyler and Emily. We stopped at a pretty creek and chilled there for about half hour, more people trickled in until there were about 12 of us there. Busted out my tennis ball for the first time and played catch and creek baseball with Tyler and Emily. Tyler throws like a girl but I let him pitch to me anyway and hit a couple dingers with a stick. Sunny all day, more beautiful views, legs felt great. Ended the day at Woody Gap, 20.6 miles from Springer. 13.2 miles for the day, legs started to feel a little sore. Got trail magic from a nice lady, she was passing out oranges. It was so good. Stayed up late (til around 9) talking around the picknick table with Tyler, Emily, Erin, Escape, Dave, Grant, Nick and Marbles.

Feet feeling great and loving the views

Day 3

 Got a late start,  hit the trail around 1045. Got a little hot on the uphills. Hiked with Tyler and Emily most of the day. Decided that I hated my 5 foot long ski poles that I was hiking with, too long but at least they took some pressure off my knees. Tyler and Emily called and rented a cabin and said I could stay in it for free, how sweet! Escape stayed with us. Got to Neel Gap around 5, 10.6 miles for the day. Hitched a ride into town, accidently spent $50 and got way too much food. Got overwhelmed by all the choices, bought lots of vegetables. Hitched a ride back to the cabin at Neels Gap and made some food. Showered. Said hi to  Grant, Nick and Marbles in a nearby cabin. Got to bed around midnight. 
Day 4

Had breakfast with marbles Nick and grant at 830. They made eggs and bacon and I threw in a pound of ground turkey. Was going to carry the frozen turkey a few miles and cook it for lunch but realized that was a stupid idea and it’d be better as breakfast. Nick caught a cab to Atlanta and forgot his shoes in the cabin so we threw them in the shoe tree at Mountain crossings before we started hiking around 1145. Found a trekking pole in the hiker box, ditched my ski poles.

Nicks shoes are up there somewhere.

 We hiked at a quick pace to make up for the late start. Brought a package of hot dogs, celery, carrots, a banana and an avocado and ate those for lunch. Spent the day hiking with marbles and grant, my legs and ankles were a little sore after going 12.8 miles up lots of mountains. We all took shots of olive oil for the calories and passed it around like a whisky bottle. It burned our throats going down. Marbles shared some trail mix. set up camp with marbles Grant Tyler and Emily. Had a fire for 20 minutes before it started raining, that got us scrambling to brush our teeth and hang our bear bags. Another rainy night but I stayed dry. 
Day 5

We were all pretty sore so decided to take it easy. Another late start, on the trail around 11. Got trail magic at a couple road crossings, Willy was handing out beers and another guy gave out chips. The mountains whooped my ass and I couldn’t wait to get to camp.  Stopped around 230 at Blue Mountain Shelter, only 5.9 miles for the day. Met lots of new friends, everyone is so friendly out here. A trail angel with 2 bloodhounds brought blueberries, strawberries, whipped cream and wine up and it put a smile on everyone’s faces. Had a fire, cooked peas, a sweet potato, and mixed it with olive oil and sunflower seeds. The olive oil tastes way better with food in it.
Day 6

Started the day with 2.4 downhill miles to Unicoi Gap with Grant and Marbles. We got packed up and ready around 830, early for us but were still the last ones get packed up and moving.

Sunrise from my tarp

Hitched a ride into Hiawassee with Grant and went to the store. We split a rotisserie chicken and I bought some carrots and lettuce. Met some other hikers at the store. Marbles had to go to Helen to get a resupply box from the post office. Tyler and Emily are staying at a hotel in Helen, hoping to see them again sometime. We walked to the town square park and layed down and rested. Wrote this blog. Noticed that I’m getting a rash all around my family jewels area…. Maybe from not washing sweaty underwear for a week…? Idk, stay tuned for more details. Peace 

Grant with my hitch hiking sign. Only took us 10 minutes to catch a ride into town.

Charging phones, eating, and getting our bags packed with food at Ingles, the grocery store. Only caught a few stares from people 

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Comments 6

  • Jared : Apr 1st

    Tarp looks good, hugs the ground well. I can’t believe you’re getting trail magic already! I subscribed to your trek and can’t wait to hear more. I’m definitely living vicariously through you right now. Did you get a trail name yet? Im still partial to ‘Amish’ but i dont think you liked that one. 🙂 Almost hiker midnight for ya now. When you get up don’t forget to go for a walk 🙂

  • Jerry Bailey, "Viking" : Apr 2nd

    Note to self: (and other who write on the trail) If someone is kind enough to give you “Trail Magic”, be kind enough to remember their name and post it as a thank you “shout out” to others! Viking. Oh, almost forgot, on Wednesday the 5th of April is the start of the GREEN BERET APPALACHIAN TRAIL CHALLENGE, where about 170 Retired and Former Army Green Berets will begin hiking NOBO and SOBO in support of the Green Beret Foundation, to raise money for survivors, widows and orphans of the Special Forces Community. If you see men 50-75, take the time to ask them if they are THE GREEN BERETS hiking the AT! Gracias Mucho! Viking.

  • TicTac : Apr 2nd

    What do I think? I think you should think seriously about how sexist it is to say a man – or a woman – “throws like a girl”. Do you really think that is a positive thing to say? Have you ever tried to hit a softball thrown at 80mph by a High School female fast pitcher? Good luck with that. I just don’t understand why men think it is okay to demean anyone – yes, even a man – by referring to what they think is the inherent limitations of either gender. My advice would be to leave your immature judgements and negative biases in North Georgia and learn to accept everyone as they are, who they are.

    • Jared : Apr 12th

      Hey TicTac, suck an egg! Screw your feminism bull crap crazy lady.

  • Dawn Thompson : Apr 3rd

    So proud of you Dan! Ignore people’s stupid replies. The kind God loving person you are I know you meant nothing negative in your throw like a girl comment. Was just meant in fun. Some people.have nothing better to do than make a mountain out of a mole hill! Get a life tictac! Love and miss you. May the Lord keep you safe! You make mom proud!

    • Gunslinger : Apr 10th

      I agree mom!


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