Six Days Off Trail

I opened up the door and beheld a winter wonderland. Snow covered the landscape, wrapping the trees in a crystaline embrace. Unfortunately it was colder than it was beautiful. Snow would mean wet feet on trail, and the avoiding hypothermia would require extra caution, and good luck.

I shut the door, walked to the couch, curled up under a blanket and turned the heat up. I was thankful I didn’t have to hike in the Smokys that day.

Instead of being on trail, I was resting two seriously inflamed Achilles tendons at a friend’s house near Asheville.

I met Weeble Wobble during my 2021 thru hike attempt. He has gone on to finish the trail. We had known each other for only a week or so but he was more than willing to help out a fellow hiker.

He picked me up at I-40, just after I exited Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After a shower that left me feeling slightly human, we went straight to the local burger joint. I told the waiter to make me the best possible burger and the monstrosity in front of me delivered.

I spent the following days watching movies, stuffing my face and talking about the trail. Myself, Weebles and Andycap, a 2021 AT thru hiker, swapped trail stories, and the two veterans gave me plenty of advice.

Andycap (left) and Weeble Wobble (right)

They listed off several must-see spots and what to expect from the rest of the trail. One thing that stuck with me was their admission that after 7 months they still aren’t used to life off trail.

They talked about other hikers they saw in Maine taking zero after zero as if to postpone the inevitable and squeeze a few more drops of bliss from the trail.

It got me thinking about what life will look like for me after I climb Katahdin. I came to the realization that I have absolutely no idea who I will be, let alone what that version of Sidetrack will want out of life.

What I do know is I’m making the best of every day. I’m incredibly grateful for the natural beauty around me, and the generosity of the people I’ve met.

Part of making the best was enjoying the time off. Six days off trail feels excessive when all your focus has been on making miles.

Having awesome hiker friends and a cool town like Ashville to explore made things way easier.

They warned me that the first few days back on trail would be tough. Then just to make things harder they made steak and shrimp for my last dinner.

Delicious Feast Courtesy of Weeble Wobble

It was definitely a tough climb leaving I-40. The terrain was relatively flat, but the mental battle was intense. The fact that I didn’t want to leave says more about the hospitality of my friends than about the difficulty of the trail. 

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 1

  • Pamela : Apr 27th

    I love reading the stories of everyone that walks, or attempting to walk the Appalachians, I myself, the Appalachian trail is one of my biggest goals to do, and I myself,is attempting to walk the Appalachian trail this year, at least that’s my plan, I’ve been planning it for years now, dreaming of the clarity I may get from it, mentally and physically,I have noticed that, if you really plan for something,does it ever go the way you plan? how ready would you really be? Stepping into the unknown, how can you really get ready for something, that we know nothing about? We can research everyday and read everyone else’s lives on the trails, that will help us a little, but until we really walk in their shoes, how ready can we really get or be?i guess we just have to jump in with both feet, and go day by day, and make our own stories,things seem to always come up, and throws everything off track, so is this a moment and a time in my life, that I just have to go and do it? It seems like if I don’t plan things, that those are the times in my life, that things have actually worked out for me, for the better, it don’t make sense,, but that’s how my life works. I love to read the stories on here, about all the strong and amazing people, that the Appalachians has collected over the years, if those trees could talk, just think of all the stories, they would tell us, you all are amazing people, to me, never give up on yourselves or your dreams,and thank you for sharing your stories, you all are incredible people, my heart and prayers goes out to each and everyone of you. God bless. ❤️


What Do You Think?