View Full Version : hardest day on your AT hike

01-27-2006, 01:39
Describe the hardest day you can remember on the Appalachian Trail...

could be a series of steep climbs, bad weather, injury, losing the AT, longest day, most miles etc...


01-27-2006, 05:48
The day I got off.

01-27-2006, 08:20
Got sick in Mahoosuc Notch. Tossed my cookies in Speck Pond Shelter. Ugh!


Hammock Hanger
01-27-2006, 09:07
It is kind of like childbirth, I can only remember the greatness of the hike.

There were plenty of hard days but seems my memory wanes... I guess it would be climbing Cube Mt. completely dehydrated during a NH heat spell. By the time I got down I had no voice and kind locals took me into their home.

warren doyle
01-27-2006, 09:10
The date when several Baxter State Park rangers prevented the 19-member 1975 Appalachian Trail Circle Expedition from completing the last 5.2 miles (55 degrees and slight drizzle) of their unprecedented group thru-hike (i.e. 109 days).

01-27-2006, 09:18
my first day of my first section hike. i had never done any hiking for more than three days but was heading on a seven day trip...i took the train from my home to harpers ferry and had planned to hike up and out of the park south bound that afternoon until dark…the only problem was my connection to harpers ferry got delayed 4 hours in DC…needless to say I got to harpers ferry late right near dusk (now I used to live near harpers ferry so I was somewhat familiar with the area itself and knew direction I needed to follow) the big problem arose when I got across the Shenandoah bridge and into the woods. It slowly but surely got dark and I slow but surely got lost(at least I thought I was, oh yeah did mention I had never night hiked before) I somehow made it just outside the harpers ferry park ground and as soon as I did I through out my tent ate a little food and went to bed. Well, because I couldn’t see when I set my tent up and the ground I found to set it up was quiet rocker than I had originally seen and at a slight slant….lets just say a slept in the shape of an S and in the lower left corner of my tent….

Lessons learned:

don’t rely on mass transit to be on time
know when something is too much to tackle
buy beer by the KEG ( okay so that makes no sense, but always wanted that to be a lesson learn :):D

01-27-2006, 09:35
The two days I passed through Mahoosuc Notch and over the Baldpates. The Mahoosuc Notch to Baldpate Shelter stretch sucked the life out of me, lots of psychological strain that day and the day before (I got slightly lost the day before for the first time in my hike, and was downright ticked off about it). When I arrived at Speck Pond shelter and realized I was going to have to hike fuirther that day than I expected to get to the next shelter (Grafton Notch Shelter having been removed without much notice that Summer), I was a bit miffed as I had shaved my day's plan pretty tight anyhow to finish hiking by nightfall. I spent the night alone at the shelter under glowering skies, (I hate camping alone), and woke the next morning to fog and drizzle and high winds. Climbing over the Baldpates pretty much did me in. I was getting knocked around so hard by the wind and soaked and frozen by the rain, that I just ran out of psychological resources and decided to go home at Andover. Fortunately by the time I got to the road crossing, sat down, thought it out and ate a few granola bars and snacks while waiting for someone to pass by, the sun came out. It's amazing what a little sunshine can do for you. Someone did come by and asked if I needed a ride into town. I said thanks, but I'm moving on. I never thought about quitting again. It was at that point that I realized how much I needed to have other people around and the fellowship of other hikers. Turned out I wasn't half the loner I thought I was.

01-27-2006, 09:42
The two worst days on the train for us during our thru in '89 were
1. Leaving the Damascus after trail days
2. Leaving Shaw's


Tim Rich
01-27-2006, 10:00
Usually it was the third day of each of my section hikes, when the soreness and fatigue of not being trail hardened started to show, and the pack weight hadn't started to sufficiently lighten.

01-27-2006, 10:26
Turned out I wasn't half the loner I thought I was.

its funny you point that out...the lonelyness was my worst enemy during my first three days, but once i got used to it...it was wonderful (hell i just let my mind wonder, i remembered things that i hadn't thought about in years old songs, old friends, old teachers names from 1st grade:rolleyes: all sorts of weird stuff)...infact after being on the trail for only eight days...i have to say it took a little adjusting going back out into civilization...i can't wait untill my next section hike...

01-27-2006, 11:51
...the day before !!


01-27-2006, 11:57
The day I got off.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Bad Ass Turtle
01-27-2006, 15:33
I can't remember where in Connecticut I started on this particular day, but it was in 2001, in the middle of a freakish heat wave, when I hiked into Kent, Connecticut. Not enough water, dehydrated as I could be. Miserable and chafing to boot.

B A Turtle

01-28-2006, 00:05
Hiking the Appalachian River through the Smokies in a downpour in 35 degrees and having to make 28 miles due to being out of food.

Big Dawg
01-28-2006, 07:59
Hiking the Appalachian River through the Smokies


01-29-2006, 04:57
Not only the worst day of my Thru-hike, but one of the worst ever. I approached the fire-tower at Mt Albert(NC) I was attacked by an unleashed Rockweiler while the owner and company where at the top of the tower sightseeing. I suffered the destruction of a $100+ jacket and several lacerations to my legs, hands and arms before they could get down and restrain the mutt. They, with day packs left quickly saying, "sorry, but he's never done that before" I asked for help and for reimbursement, they picked up their pace to exit as fast as possible. I had to get to Franklin for stitches and treatment after slogging to rock gap to catch a ride. Thus, I hate hikers with dogs, leashed or not, they are a problem and should be banned from the trail, just as it is in the GSMNP and Baxter/Katahdin. If the SOB's read this I want to let you know I have a can of woop-ass waiting!

01-31-2006, 00:26
in my thru in 1995,a couple of miles from the road crossing with the most direct route into gettysburg,i got stung by a yellow jacket(im allergic),my leg swelled up and i broke into hives after about 30 min.made it to the road crossing and decided i wanted to see gettysburg with my fellow thru hiking buddy,sam-i-am,we tried to hitch for about 1 hour with no luck,all the while im delerious with hives and light headed,finally a car stops to pick us up and its single gal in her early 40s with wild red hair..
we jump on in and she proceeds to drive off with us towards gettysburg,im sitting by the window trying to get all the air i can when i notice she has a bottle of jack daniels between her legs and shes ****-faced drunk...and smoking like a chimney..
she begins to tell us her life story and i didnt really get all of it except that here boyfriend just kicked her out or beat her up or something and that she want "to party"with us and take us both back to a motel room and "get busy"...
all the while while on the road to town shes all over the road(2 lane hwy) and drving like 85 mph with 2 scared to death hikers and one(me)feeling down and out with an allergic reaction to bee stings...all the while with my head stuck out the window feeling like i just took 5 vicodins.
we make it to town,jump out of the car,and race into the nearest supermarket,leaving our drunk, trailer trash ,ride giver to her own devices..
didnt find a room in town for cheap,so hitched back to at and set my tent up with a ankle the size of a thanksgiving turkey and tried to get some sleep on a night where the temp didnt drop below 78...
after that the rest of the trail was a snap.

01-31-2006, 01:35
I realized I wrote a novel, sorry folks but I'm leaving it intact.

This is an easy one for me...

We camped around Cody gap the night before, coincidently this is this place and night I got my trail name after a stove incident. Boomhouser and Tom could smell the singed hair from my arm (almost all of it) several feet away and the name "Singe" stuck...

Anyway, we had camped early there because it was a nice spot and there was yet another band of thunderstorms blowing in (2003 thru attempt) so we could cook and set up camp while it was still somewhat dry. It stormed all night, lots of thunder and lightning (I happen to like a good light show but this was a little close) and got relatively cold. We broke camp and started walking the 4 miles towards Cable Gap shelter as the storms grew worse. By Cable Gap, the trail was like a small creek and the rocks were very slick. I had taken a fall that ripped my knee open pretty good (still a nice L shaped scar).

We met up at Cable Gap shelter and stayed a while, hoping for a break in the storm, eventually Boomhouser and Tom hiked on towards Fontana. I thought of staying because my knee was throbbing and the bleeding would never quite stop but the wind was whipping the rain right in to the shelter so I bandaged up my knee and hiked out as well, figuring I had most of the day to cover the miles to Fontana.

The next miles were probabily my worst on the AT, the trail itself was running with several inches of water, the force of the wind and rain nearly knocked me down a few times and I was starting to get cold despite keeping up a pretty good pace. Lightning was hitting relatively near, I'd guess visibility was down to 20 feet or so with the mist and rain. I fell going downhill a little too fast (spurred on by lightning hitting close enough to make the hair on my arms stand up) ripping the knee open again and jammed my thumb so bad I feared I broke it, it was actually numb until I popped the knuckle.

I made the first parking lot at Fontana and went in to the bathroom to try to wring things out a little and see if I could warm up a little, I dumped my boots out, put on my Tevas and went to find the shuttle phone that was listed in WF's guide, only to find it dead. The stop had let my body chill a little, and I was shivering and starting to get a little worried about hypothermia. I knew the dam was only a mile away and from there I could get to the village and a room to warm up and dry out so I set out again, thinking it would be an easy stroll through a parking lot...

That hill, between the parking lot and the dam is one of the cruelist jokes on the trail! I think I got over it fueled by sheer frustration :-) I was losing sunlight at this point and feeling colder but I made the dam and found the phone. I think I was hypothermic at this point because I literally had to think my way through how to use a telephone and had trouble dialing.

It was a pretty bad day... But the memory that sticks out was a place where I stopped to add layers and eat a little snack. I dont know exactly where it was, but there was a creek, which I could distinguish from watery trail by the fact it had a bridge and ALOT of very tall, thick trees. The undergrowth was all ferns it seemed, a very lush and beautiful area. I think I remember a fire ring there, the trees just disappeared up in to the mist, the area actually haunts me a little in a very good way, I wish I could describe the feeling I got there better. This was, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful spots and moments on the trail and I'm thankful that I found it, on that of all days, it was a few momements of absolute peace and beauty on a day that was otherwise so bad.

01-31-2006, 02:20
Hiking the Appalachian River through the Smokies in a downpour in 35 degrees and having to make 28 miles due to being out of food.

I thought the Appalachian River in the Smokies was bad until I hiked the Appalachian River in ME! But that day in the end was kind of fun, in a twisted sort of way. One of my worst days was the day I crossed the NY/NJ border. It was in the middle of the wicked heat wave this past summer.

If I recall correctly, I started at the shelter in NJ up on top of the hill where the water source is the empty house that some agency owns just past the road walk/wetland area. I got an early start and made good time getting to the long wooden boardwalk and stopped to eat sitting on the rock wall at the parking lot where the road to Vernon(sp?) was. I decided to skip the hostel and keep on trucking, as it was early. Big mistake. The heat/humidity hit in a big way. Then, the NY border with that wonderful rock hit. Slick rock, boom, sliced my wrist (have a scar from that one). Passed that turn off path that goes off to town and kept on going. Figured that I'd find a place to camp as the shelter wasn't looking good. Passed up one spot just past a stream, as it was a little too close to the water and it was still a bit before dark. Rock, rock, rock, almost to the road. Found a place with power lines, PI everywhere, no go. Found the road, pretty well dark now. No ice cream for me, as the place was closed before I hit the road. Night hiking, slick rock, not too bad, then those stupid rocks with the blazes going straight up the center. Did the first ones. At really late hour and exhausted, I said to heck with Cat rocks, as I didn't think I could make it over them in the dark/wet without killing myself, so I took the blue blaze. The shelter was set back and the path not well marked. Easy to find in the daytime, all I could see were the tents down below at night--wandered around a long time. Finally in the shelter, too tired to setup a tent. Wake up, leave late, get eaten alive by the skeeters as I pumped water.

Hit the next day of killer weather and do a super short day that took all day to complete. The message I left for my wife from the phone at the entrance to the park was "I'm having a low morale day today." The trail angel with the pickup truck full of goodies happened to catch me soon after and it was a nice pick me up--I must have looked half dead though.

The next worst day was two days after I finished. Cloud nine and a perfect day to finish. Ride to PWM the next day to meet my wife, perfect. Day after, missing the trail...

01-31-2006, 02:40
Not really the hardest day, but a really hard moment occured way back in the early part of my hike in Maine. Mike and I stopped by the white house landing and had lunch w/ the joes hole posse. We decided to save some money and head back in to the woods. Just as the guy dropped us off on shore, a huge front moved in and within a half hour it was pouring! We were only a half mile or so from the shelter and we decided to run the last bit. We got their succesfully and we were quite delighted to find the shelter clean, empty and rainproof. It was still early in the day and so we strung up all our clothes etc and warmed up. no problem

by night the tempature had dropped and we were cold in our 40 degree bags. Mike and I were both carrying 'space blanket' sleeping bag liners, the tinfoil thing. We slipped our sleeping bags inside the foil liner. We warmed up pretty promptly and fell asleep.

I remember waking up that next morning thinking I had 'wet the bed' I was soaked! I rolled around trying to decide if this was a bad dream. I poked Mike, and he looked up at me. His shirt was soaked, his bag was clearly WET. He had the same reaction I did. We quickly realized that had kept us so warm, had also trapped all our body heat and so the condensation quickly followed. It was one of those many moments on the trail that if you didn't laugh, you were going to cry. We packed up like two wet dogs and headed out.

oh and for weeks after that my sleeping bag had a nasty silvery stain all over it.

Jack Tarlin
01-31-2006, 14:14
Toughest and worst day I can remember was 12 September 2001.

We woke up in Full Goose Shelter, having heard about events in New York and Washington around nine that night from some hikers that came in late. This was the first we'd heard about it. All of us had friends or family members in Manhattan or D.C.

Next day, early, we FLEW thru Mahoosuc Notch, up Mahoosuc Arm, down to Speck Pond, up Old Speck, and then down to Grafton Notch where a friend who knew we were coming picked us up and took us to the Cabin in Andover.

This is probably the toughest single day of the Trail terrain-wise in ANY year, but 2001 was absolutely unreal. If I've ever had a harder day on the Trail, for any number of reasons, I sure can't remember it.

02-02-2006, 22:19
hiking down mt. minsi with shinsplints in my left leg, blister on my left pinkie toe, and a line of chafe across my rearend (i.e. monkeybutt).

02-02-2006, 23:25
walked 10 mi with no water and slept that night with no water and got water around 8 next morn after 2 hours of hiking.back in one of those drought years in PA.lesson learned? look behind you when checking for a spring sign.the one faceing you may be down.or the one sign might be at an angle and walking with your eyes down on the rocks,....you miss the sign.

02-03-2006, 00:05
hiked 22miles in connecticut, during a heat wave. At mile 20 my arms went numb and I couldn't get up till I ate a whole bag of dried apricots. Next day stayed at the whiteheart inn, great place to recupe.

Nearly Normal
02-03-2006, 04:21
After walking most of a cold windy November day in a constant hard rain from Low Gap to Blue Mountain shelter. The wind blowing into the shelter was terrible. Hypothermia was a real threat.
Took a while to light my stove for a hot cup and forced myself to eat.
I was in real trouble for a while. I count myself lucky to get off the mountain that day.

02-03-2006, 09:34
Woke up in Piazza Rock lean to shelter on Aug 31st of 05 on my thruhike, It had been raining the whole night, little did we know Hurricane Katrina was right over top of us. 4 of us in the shelter that morning and 2 of them took a zero day in the shelter. Whitewater and I hiked out thru the Appalachian river all day long, Crossing streams that wernt in the book and hiking in ankle to mid calf high water all day long. Went up saddleback mtn and believe me we couldnt see Katahdin like wingfoot said we are spose to. The wind was blowing 50+ mph. The rain felt like someone was shooting us with a bb gun over and over again. We was above treeline for half the day about. Stopped at the Poplar Ridge lean to and Ate lunch, there was another guy there taking a zero. We headed on and got to the Orberton stream ford crossing. It was waist high, We luckily got across and in one piece started hiking up mt abraham and into spaulding mtn lean to. 2 guys in that shelter taking a zero day, We decided to keep going and make it to the sugarshack. Im lucky that whitewater had been there before cause I never would have found it if it wasnt for him. The wind was blowing so hard and the lodge roof was leaking like a sieve. The windows felt like they were going to blow out from the wind. The next day to make it short and sweet. We got down to the carabassett river and could not cross, the small rock hop across now looked like a class 4 whitewater river. Whitewater kayaks a lot and said there is no way we are crossing that river. We walked 1/2 mile upstream and downstream trying to find a spot to cross. Being 9 in the morning we figured out only choice was to walk back up sugarloaf mtn and walk down the ski slopes and go in the town, where we called don at the stratton motel and he came and picked us up. the next day he dropped me off at the caribou valley road and I hiked back to the carabassett river and I could have rock hopped across it. I didnt miss any of the trail but dang those 2 days were horrible but in a sense fun. We hiked 20 miles in the pouring rain and 50+ mph winds, bit of a rush at times but that was my worst day-s on the trail last year.

Kozmic Zian
02-03-2006, 10:10
Yea, Friends....

During my Thru'y in '96....at the end of the Wilderness, last day at Rainbow Stream Hut, I had run out of food....Had one Cliff Bar left....ate it that night....got up the next morning in a total downpoor with no food, and struck out for Abol with no food or energy left....totally exhausted after doing 'The Miles', I slugged thru the freekin' puddles and 3-6"'s of water for the last 15 miles to the campground store. Exhausted, and looking like 'The Wild Man Of Borneo', I burst into the store, scarring the ship out of the nice lady keeper....panting, and exhausted, I rushed for the donuts and coffee. I think I ate them all! What a day to remember.....:D

03-01-2006, 18:34
Got snowed on when not prepared, attacked by dog along the way, ran out of water in the parking lot with an hour's drive home, and cell phone battery died so I couldn't let my wife know I was on my way.

Not such a bad day considering.

03-01-2006, 21:19
........ attacked by dog along the way..........

Better watch out, these sensitive dog hikers will take exception, saying it was probably your fault!!

03-02-2006, 05:54
My worst day was crossing Wolf Creek (near Wythe in SW VA ) 12 to 14 times, in knee-deep water on a rainy day with near-freezing temperatures (after a 16 mile hike with full pack). All this because I hadn't figured out what the significance of the "High Water Trail" was - a blue-blaze hiking trail that detoured around all this aggravation! The only reason I didn't develop hypothermia was that my truck was waiting just on the far side of the creek.

Sky Rider

03-02-2006, 09:29
I was hiking in Pa and got lost in the miserable rain missed several shelters,ended up doing 35 plus miles and my feet were just shot.ky:eek:

The Solemates
03-02-2006, 10:24
i got really sick near hogback ridge just outside of hot springs and felt horrible. to make matters worst, a near blizzard was coming through which lasted 3 days and dumped over 20 inches of snow. it was all i could do to manage about 8-10 miles a day, and then we did a huge 21 mile day push in the snow to cap it off into Erwin. i slept for some 16 hrs that night.

but far worse, lady solemate got sick in CT-MA-VT and ended up in the emergency room in Rutland, VT due to the beginning signs of a stomach ulcer.

Rebel, with a Cause!
03-02-2006, 10:33
My worst day was after my attempt in 2002. This was the next year in 2003, temp was a nice 65 degrees at my home in Maryville, TN just outside the GSMNP. It had gotten real cold and snowed about 2 days before and left about 8 inches of snow in the Park. The sun was out and it looked Beautiful.

During my Thru hike I usually wore SealSkin Socks if I knew it was going to be real wet that day, to keep my feet dry in my Trail runners. Since the sun was out and it looked so beautiful, so I just put on my good old Thorlos and off I went to Clingmans Dome to meet a few Thrus and hike to MT Collins shelter for the night.

Upon arriving at Clingmans Dome and heading down the trail, I discovered the the 8 inches of snow was melting and had turned the trail into a river of ice water. The 65 degrees at home was now about 40 degrees in the mountains. It was a short hike of about 3 and a half miles but my feet were very wet and Freezing cold.

Upon arriving at Mt Collins, several other thrus were there and everyones feet was frozen from the Cold water. Thats all we talked about and everyone was cursing the River on the trail. Several said it was the worst day of their hike to date as was it mine.

Seal Skins, I never leave home without them :)

Have fun and cya down the Trail,

03-02-2006, 10:34
I got caught in a wicked spring thunderstorm between the Low Gap and Blue Mountain shelters in NC. It blew up out of a clear sky, and I was on a long narrow ridge with no way to get down fast. The lightning was so close the bolts looked six feet wide and the air smelled like hot copper. The trees were thrashing and groaning, and big branches were crashing to the ground. I knelt on my sleeping pad, getting whacked in the kidneys by hailstones and trying to ignore the fact that my hair was standing on end.

I was scared, and I really thought my new trail name was going to be Smoking Crater.

I have a lot more humility (read: fear) toward storms in the mountains now.

The Solemates
03-02-2006, 12:11
i also took a trip up to charlies bunion via the sweat heifer trail one year and forgot my rain jacket. it started hailing and lightning real close by along the AT ridge near icewater springs. i had to take off my shirt and hike naked from the top up so as to retain dry clothes for after the storm. it was about 45 degrees and when i arrived at the shelter i was as red as a beet, dancing with hypothermia. but after putting on my fleece in the shelter and warming up, i was fine. the storm passed in about an hour, and i continued down the trail.

Mother's Finest
03-02-2006, 14:49
This is my first post on this site, awesome place.....

It was the first time for me on the AT. My buddy and I had planned a spring-break hike, starting where the trail crosses Loy Wolf Road (north of Annapolis rocks) and heading south from there. I thought I had planned so well. I had no idea what we were getting into.

First of all, we had every bit of gear you could think of. too much food. too much water (or more than we needed to carry). The trail starts off from the road almost straight up-hill. For quite a distance.

Well, I am talking about two college kids, that were way out of shape, smoked way too much, and generally had no idea of what it was like to haul a pack uphill. Five minutes into the hike we were both blowing like we had just finished windsprints in lacrosse practice. We were ready to quit.

A few minutes further along the trail, we met a north bounder just lounging in the middle of the trail. Now this is the first thru hiker I had ever seen, and this cat had some serious facial hair working, and a truly calm and easy attitude about him. I still remember his exact words...Just taking a little rest break, I have come up from Georgia. At that time, we were just blown away by this guy. ( now I cannot wait for my time to be that guy)

Anyway, we made it to Annapolis rocks, just a beautiful place, and ended up staying there for a couple of days, day hiking around from there.

No where near the hardship others have posted, but a tough introduction to trail conditions and a great lesson on the importance of proper conditioning.


03-02-2006, 15:45
RITBlake, for me it was climbing out of the NOC to Cheoah Bald in '04. That sucker nearly killed me. The climb had no switchbacks. It was like being on a stairmaster for 9 hours. The trail goes from the Nantahala River 1000ft to Cheoah Bald 5062ft in 8 miles. A 4,000ft gain in elevation. I got to the top of Cheoah at 7:30 PM, I was asleep by 7:45 PM. From then on, I compare all me ascends to that day, nothing so far has come close. I'm guessing I was dehydrated, out of shape, carrying to much food, and feeling sorry for myself. It was one tough day.

03-02-2006, 17:10
RITBlake, for me it was climbing out of the NOC to Cheoah Bald in '04.

That is a bear of a climb, especially with two helpings of blueberry pie and ice cream riding along under the belt. Urf.

03-02-2006, 18:15
is that the nobo or sobo climbing out of the NOC? The sobo one was tough, equally for nobos I imagine

(side story: as I made my way down in to the NOC, I passed a couple who were just a few hundred feet up the trail from the NOC. They asked me what I was doing and why I was carrying a pack. I explained to them I had been walking since Maine. They refused to believe me and the idea that the AT actually stretched that far, I showed him my wingfoot book map to try and prove my point. It was pretty funny. )

03-02-2006, 18:30
On my hardest day I actually didn't hike a step. I was sitting at the Abol Bridge Campground under perfect bluebird skies gazing at Katahdin but not able to go up & finish the hike because it was a class IV day due to the previous days flooding rains from Katrina. When we went up two days later it was socked in & windy...

Papa Razzi
03-02-2006, 23:22
It's hard to pick out a day as the hardest day. Even the toughest days had great moments. Off the top of my head, though, two days in particular spring to mind.

The first was coming out of Eckville Shelter in Pennsylvania. It was a rainy morning in July and I couldn't figure out if it was cold enough to warrant a rain jacket or not. I decided to go without, and guessed wrong. I reached the next shelter some eight miles later (it's amazing how hard it is to convince yourself to stop while hiking) shivering quite horribly, but ran into some friends who were taking a zero who gave me some hot tea. The day cleared up that afternoon, and led to perfect conditions for snakes to sun themselves on an already tough section of Pennsylvania rocks. While carefully watching a black snake off to the side of the trail, I heard a rattling between my legs. Looking down, I caught my first and only view of a rattlesnake on the whole trail. A few hundred yeards later, my shoe literally exploded as the rubber outsole broke into pieces and fell off the foam. But I somehow made it into Palmerton, ran into some unexpected friends, and had a great end to an otherwise horrible day.

The other day was in the White Mountains. I was with two buddies at Lakes of the Clouds and had been forced to take a zero there the previous day due to bad weather conditions. Suffering from cabin fever we resolved to hike that day irregardless of the weather. We hiked up to Washington, warmed up for an hour, and then left again in high winds, cold temperatures, and pea-soup fog towards Madison Hut. The trek over there is a bit of a blur, but I seem to recall quite a bit of rain, wind, hail, and possibly a small train. The weather broke right as we reached the hut, and we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

Wolf - 23000
03-02-2006, 23:36
My toughest day .... hum. Tough question. It is a toss up between:

· The day my boots froze with my FEET in them. I need to use my stove to boil up hot water just to dump them right on my boots. I end up spending that night “sleep” in a snowstorm when it was well below 0 with my feet black.
· Getting hit by a CAMPER while road walking on the PCT.
· Having my sleeping bag FREEZE while it was 35 below 0. I spent 3 additional nights out before finally making it into town so I could dry out my sleeping bag.

I had several tough days but I think the hardest one and the Grandfather of them all, when I retired from long distance hiking. Hiking a couple 100 miles a year helps but it not the same as a thru-hike.


03-03-2006, 00:13
Ha! Crossing Mt. Rogers/Greyson Highlands in a blizzard that dumped 3 feet of snow and 60mph winds the DAY AFTER I sent my long underwear home like an idiot. That wasn't the bad part. The bad part was having my life saved by some kids from Louisiana on Spring Break. Shattered pride, anyone?

03-03-2006, 09:55
I got caught in a wicked spring thunderstorm between the Low Gap and Blue Mountain shelters in NC.

Correction: This is in GA.

03-03-2006, 19:53
· Getting hit by a CAMPER while road walking on the PCT.

ouch, I always afraid/cautious of this. what was the result?:eek:

03-03-2006, 21:54
· Getting hit by a CAMPER while road walking on the PCT.

HAHA! I got hit by a car at Fontana Village who made a right hand turn while looking left. The next morning as I walked into the Smokies I got run over by a horse.

03-04-2006, 07:12
There are two days that stand out among my 90+ days of AT section hiking over the past 33 years. Both were the result of inexperience and occurred in the 70's.

In late March 1975 on the fourth day of a spring break section hike from Lee, MA south to the NY/CT border, we started from the town of Sheffield with plans to stay at the lean-to atop Mt. Everett (since removed). It was only to be a 12 mile day. The skies started out overcast, but as we headed toward Jug End and its steep climb it started to rain. I donned my poncho and chaps and slogged up Jug End to the ridgeline. We traversed several minor summits before descending to begin climbing the northern arm of Mt. Everett, the highest peak in Massachusetts. As we ascended, the rain turned to sleet and then wet snow. The climb seemed to stretch on forever and we were too cold to consider stopping.

We realized we were near the summit only because the vegetation thinned out, the fog was so thick. The woods road to the summit was covered in ice for 10 yards and there was no way around due to the rocks. I somehow scrambled up with the help of my buddies to reconnointer, reaching the old firetower where I realized that we had bypassed the shelter.

The guidebook came in handy, pointing us to a side road that we had passed by (there were no signs). The lean-to was only 40 yards from the Trail but invisible in the fog.

We stumbled in as the light of day faded and realized that we had to get warm -- quickly. We pulled out the sleeping bags and had a small snack, but the fog was so thick that it dampened everything in the shelter. I finally got up enough energy to heat some soup on my old Optimus 8R, after which we tried to cover the entrance with a groundcloth, but it didn't really work. We crashed soon after that. It wasn't until many years later that I realized that we were exhibiting the first symptoms of hypothermia.

03-04-2006, 07:24
My second tough day was in early August 1976, on a hike from Lee, MA north to Gorham, NH. I was only 3 days into the hike and coming out of Dalton, where I had stayed at the guest home of a former thru-hiker.

It was a beautiful day and a lovely 10-mile hike to Cheshire. As my pack was too heavy, I stopped at the post office and sent home my wool shirt and a few other items to cut out about 5 pounds. I ate a quick lunch and headed out to the next shelter, which was supposedly home to a family of porcupines.

The lean-to was so torn up that I decided to hike over Mt. Greylock to the shelter on the other side, which would give me my first-ever 20-mile day. I passed numerous blueberry pickers on a lovely summer's day before heading straight up Jane's Nose, the first major ridge of Greylock. The Trail entered a huge bog on logs set into the mud, but many of them had sunk several feet into the bog. As I tried to find some "dry" ground, one of my boots got stuck in the thick muck. When I tried to pull free, my pack started to knock me off balance, and while I just caught myself to avoid a faceplant, my leg cramped up putting me in a lot of pain. It took me an hour to get through the half-mile of bog. I later realized that I was severely dehyrdated (I hadn't done any summer hiking before). My legs kept cramping on the final ascent, forcing me to rest numerous times.

I eventually reached the summit where I met a thru-hiker I had stayed with the previous night. He was amazed that I was still on my feet, as was I. It was only a mile or so to the lean-to, so I was surprised when I came to Notch Road and didn't see a side trail. No one in the area seemed to know anything about a shelter. It was late dusk by now and I was very tired and frustrated. Fortunately, some passing day hikers showed me the unmarked trail to the lean-to. I made dinner in the dark and crashed. It had taken me over 12 hours to walk just 20 miles.

max patch
03-04-2006, 11:19
I had a horrible cold...the only time on my hike that I felt bad...which made the hike up Kinsman Mt incredibly difficult. I limped into North Woodstock and basically slept for 2 days at the Cascade Boarding House. Best french toast on the trail.

03-04-2006, 11:41
for me its the last day on the trail when i finish another section hike,i miss the trail,i i hike on all my off days till on the AT again:cool: neo

03-04-2006, 12:17
Many of these posts have indicated that their worst days still turned out well, like the old line about a bad day fishin' is better than a good day at the office. My worst day stories are similar. Here's one:

In 2001 I spent my first night back on the Trail after Trail Days at Icewater Spring Shelter in the Smokies with 8 or 10 other nobo long distance hikers. Most were planning on making it to Cosby Knob Shelter that night, about a 20 mile day. I knew, after the sloth that was Trail Daze, that there was no way I'd be able to put in 20, so I sadly bid all my new friends adieu as we trudged off into the early morning mist. I hoped to make it to Tri-Corner Knob, a hike of about twelve and half miles.

The early morning mist came with a bit of a breeze, fog, and then heavier rain from Tennessee, and by the time I reached Charlie's Bunion I couldn't see more than 30 yards through the swirling cloud. I met a couple snotty, grumpy section hikers heading back toward Newfound Gap after an overnight, and their attitude didn't improve my disposition. Added to the rain, the temperature was dropping, the wind was rising, and I realized that conditions were just right for hypothermia.

Before heading to Trail Days, I had been suffering from shin splints, and the three days off had only barely helped my aching legs to recover. Now, they were quickly returning to the previous pain levels, and the right one was even worse. I ran track in high school, and I thought I knew what shin splint pain was back then. I was wrong. By mid-afternoon the pain had spread to my thigh, as in trying to walk lightly to alleviate the shin splint pain, I was walking funny, putting undue stress on different parts of my legs.

I had originally planned on stopping for lunch at Peck's Corner Shelter, even though it is half a mile off the AT. (I love reading shelter registers, and I was anxious to figure out where some of my pre-Trail Days hiking companions might be now.) But when I stopped to lean on the sign at the blue-blaze trailhead to pop a couple more ibuprofen, I concluded that if I went to that shelter, I might not feel like leaving until the next day. Seven and a half mile days would not get me to Maine very quickly, so I decided to trudge, or limp, on.

No hikers had passed me, save those from Icewater Spring early that morning, so I figured that there would be no one at Tri-Corner Knob Shelter when I arrived. My teeth were chattering, my leg ached, the 1600 mg of Vitamin I in my system seemed to be doing nothing for the agony in my leg, and I envisioned myself collapsing somewhere off the Trail and dying of hypothermia. I started to chant to myself what I would do when I got to the shelter: "Wet gear off, sleeping bag, hot drink. Wet gear off, sleeping bag, hot drink." But would I even be able to start my stove the way my hands were shaking? Was my sleeping bag still dry, even? And the Appalachian Trail had become the Appalachian River.

Somewhere along the way that morning I had stumbled across a rain parka. It could have belonged to those nasty section hikers heading the other way, but I bet that it had fallen from the pack of one of my northbound friends. I figured that there were some faster nobos (weren't they all?) behind me that I could pass it along to, so I picked it up.

Finally, about an hour before full dark (not that it was very light with the rain, the fog, the clouds) I puffed and groaned into Tri-Corner Knob. The last mile or so hadn't been so bad, the ibuprofen (now up to 2000 mg) seemed to be working, and my rhythmic chant had actually somehow helped. I came around to corner to be greeted by a cheer from all the folks who had been at Icewater the night before. "Rendezvous! We thought you must have stopped at Peck's!" they said.

My fellow hikers helped me get my pack off, and as I was stripping off my soaked garments, someone tapped me on the shoulder. "Here. I don't know if you drink coffee or not, but you probably need this." I hate the taste of coffee, never touch the stuff. That was the best cup of coffee ever made. The giver was a section hiker who knew the potential for hypothermia. He joked about how stupid he was to have lost his rain jacket early on in the day, before the rain got heavy. With a smile I reached into the pocket of my jacket and pulled out his lost rain parka. It turned out to be a great day.

03-04-2006, 14:32
Many of these posts have indicated that their worst days still turned out well...Could be because this board is somewhat self-selecting; those that didn't have a happy ending either (a) don't want to talk about it, (b) no longer "talk trail" because of that day, or (c) are no longer with us.

Wolf - 23000
03-13-2006, 07:22
ouch, I always afraid/cautious of this. what was the result?:eek:

My shoulder and arm took most of the blow. I was sore for a month afterwards but determine to finish the trail. I took a day off and continue on. It hurt like a ##!!! when I stopped for the night and laid on the ground.

I end up making it nine days later than I expected.


03-13-2006, 08:43
A section hike that began by going up Liberty Springs Trail from Franconia Notch. Steep elevation. Too much pack weight. Did not get in shape before the trip. Got dehydrated. What a slug it was up that trail! The hard learned lesson was that being in shape, listening to the advice of those who have gone before you, and paying attention to your gear, greatly enhances your enjoyment of the experience.