I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail. If you want to help me eat, you can donate here: http://paypal.me/RyanStoyer
I’m asking for donations of $5-$10 because that’s about what it costs for me to eat for one day.
So it’s been six days and 70 miles. By this afternoon I will have hiked out of Georgia into North Carolina.
We have had some hellacious weather this first week. Nothing but rain the first three days, then hail and nothing but snow for the next two. Friday we saw the sun for the first time, but the ground was still powdered and frozen. The rain and snow are actually pretty nice to hike in, they add a meditative and cathartic element to our pace, but the wind has been a real pain.
Every few miles we either have to stop to put more clothes on, or stop to layer down some. As soon as we stop hiking, our body temperatures drop a little and it sometimes it takes up to had a mile to feel my fingers again. Most of the day time temperatures have been in the 40’s with night time temperatures dipping down to the lower 30’s.
Wednesday afternoon we came down Blood Mountain (the highest mountain in Georgia) to Neels Gap and our first chance to resupply on pretty much anything imaginable. I grabbed a few food items like tortillas and ramen. There’s also a hostel, but we opted to save out $18 a piece and camp out back. Thanks to an unreliable weather forecast the day before, we were entirely unaware of the wind dvisory in place as we pitched our tents along a ridge just 50 yards behind the stone hostel.
That may have been the worst weather I’ve ever camped in.
Around 9:30pm I was awakened by the sound of a particularly foreboding gust approaching. I could hear the front coming and when it hit my tent, it ripped out a corner stake and collapsed the main support pole. After a minute of flailing around in my sleeping bag and a tangled heap of tent, I emerged in my underwear in the dark driving snow. After redriving the stake and reinforcing the sides of my tent with some rocks from a nearby firepit I had sufficiently fortified my tent to last the night.
I’m astounded at how crowded these shelters get. I still haven’t slept inside of one, though I did spend Thursday night underneath the shelter at Low Gap. It was just as warm (read: cold) as pitching my tent or even sleeping in the shelter with the other 9 people already crammed in there.
The views have been amazing since the skies cleared up. Friday and Saturday were especially picturesque climbing up Rocky Mountain, Trey Mountain, and Blue Mountain.
Physically I feel great, I have been eating constantly. I’ve had some impressive meals already (teriyaki salmon lo mein with pan fried tortilla chips and wasabi paste to name one) and I am definitely carrying an excessive amount of food. My food bag alone must weigh over ten pounds, bringing my total pack weight up to 35 pounds when I could be much lower than that. I just tell myself it’s for training my legs/knees/ankles.
Alie and Avery have been the best hiking partners imaginable. If there’s an award for hikers-who-laugh-the-most, we would win it with no contest. We were just talking yesterday about how there is absolutely nothing we would rather be doing despite the challenges were facing constantly. This is really tough and we have been outperforming even my highest expectations.
It’s 7:00am now on Sunday morning and we have 18 miles to hike to Standing Indian Shelter. I heard it’s an especially scenic one. Thank you again to every one who has contributed to this experience in absolutely any way, it still hasn’t sunk in for me yet.
Special shout out to Katie for taking care of my pet tarantula while I’m away, and Wyatt for being my blog-master and facilitating this whole communication process.
I’ll post more when I get to the Smokies. Happy Trails!