Day 1: Not awesome

Hike Days

I was picked up at the Charlottesville airport by Tracy, an immensely kind and generous woman (even more kind and more generous than I had initially judged, as you’ll find out), and her two pups Scanner and Maggie. The Charlottesville airport is teensy and adorable. There were 26 people on my flight from Chicago to Charlottesville, and I’m pretty sure only about two commercial flights come in per day. 

We got to the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park around 1 p.m. after speaking to a woman at the gate of the park. She said that the AT drop off was “just around the corner.” So we went “just around the corner” and found the Hightop Mountain AT drop off. I said goodbye to Tracy, organized my pack and started my trek. I went up, up, up a mountain, thought I was going to die, and just went I was sure I was going to die, I started going down again. Hooray! The only poignant wisdom I’ve picked up by this point is that down is better than up, but flat is best of all.

Two miles (and two hours) later, I sat down to have a rest and look at my guidebook when I noticed that the place I was at was listed above the place I started. This was concerning because my book lists landmarks from South to North. Soon, I realized I had been walking in the wrong direction– I had been walking south. So I turned around and walked back. Not a good start.

I was hoping to make it to Bearfence Hut to sleep for the night, but after climbing another mountain with 37 pounds on my back, I was beat. I found a flat spot about 40 yards from the trail and pitched my tent. And then vomited. And then aired up my sleeping pad. And then vomited again. 

I decided to forego dinner and just hang my food bag so the bears wouldn’t eat it. I walked around trying to find a suitable branch to hang my bag from but couldn’t find any good ones. Finally I just walked far away from my tent to the other side of the. trail, haphazardly tossed my bag over a branch about six feet above the ground (prime bear snatching height, probably) and said, “Whatever.” 

I fell asleep but awoke several times thinking a bear was near me. But there never were. And my bag was untouched in the morning. This was sort of disappointing as I had sort of hoped the bears would take a small amount of food to make my pack lighter. No such luck. And then I vomited again.

By this point I was worried about being alone and being sick and needed to ship some gear back home, so I called Tracy and asked if she could pick me up so I could rest a day before trying again. She amazingly complied and she and her husband Steve picked me up, bought me lunch and let me stay at their place. AMAZING!!

So, today, I’m taking stuff out of my pack and resting. Hopefully day two of hiking goes better…


Taken when I was blissfully unaware that I was walking South.  

Water spring

Dr. Wham-  the cure for what ails ya

8 thoughts on “Day 1: Not awesome

  1. Rule No…., well, it doesn’t have a number because it is the most important rule right after not trying to pick up a bear cub with mom watching. That is, DRINK LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER. Even when you would rather conjugate Greek verbs, DRINK MORE WATER! Now get back up on that trail, check your compass, and get going.


  2. Use that compass on your phone! Stop drinking anything but water. Take it slow and keep on keeping on. You can do it!! You have to admit it was a beautiful trip going in both directions!


  3. When I coached baseball I always told the guys, if your going to have a bad inning the first inning is the one. Plenty of time to recover and have a great game.


  4. Hi Ali! Good luck and you can do it!! Tracy is my sister and Steve is my bro in law. They are wonderful and extremely generous. I’m so glad they were able to help you when you needed it. Go for it girl!!!
    Angie ☺☺☺


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