Appalachian Trail Hikers Endure Rough Day in Wind and Rain
You know it can happen. You hear about it and wait for it. Things so often seem nice out there. But then the weather snaps.
“You’re not only going to endure a lot of cold weather in the early going,” I often tell prospective thru-hikers. “You are gonna
run into a couple days of dangerous weather.” Yesterday was one of those days in the southern Appalachians as heavy, humid weather
gave way to a powerful cold front that dumped ice and snow all along the southeast. You have to be ready.
There are no easy solutions, but my advice runs twofold. If you hear something like that is coming and can get to a trail town, by all
means don’t feel guilty about bailing out. However there is a good chance you are going to be stuck out in it. “This is where a thru-hiker
earns his or her paycheck,” I like to tell people, which is only half an exaggeration. My advice can be summed up very simply. Shelters.
The Appalachian Trail has a wonderful network of shelters that run on average every nine miles. No, they are not particularly comfortable
and can be a pain to sleep in due to all the snoring and mice. You will still be cold, and maybe even miserable. But they will keep you dry so
that you can return to the trail in one piece to begin your struggle again.
Bill Walker is the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail. He is also the author of Skywalker–Highs and Lows
on the Pacific Crest Trail, The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago, and Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.