Even the Best Laid Plans Can Fall Prey to the Trunk of an SUV
If you read my introductory blog post, Hike Your Own Hike, you’ll know that I’m a complete novice when it comes to this camping thing. Prior to this year, I’d never slept overnight in a tent before, so labeling myself a “novice” might even be too generous.
However, I don’t have delusions about my inexperience (at least I hope I don’t). I’ve meticulously prepared for this journey on the Appalachian Trail. After all, as someone with OCD being meticulous is in my nature. I’ve spent countless hours seeking advice from experienced AT hikers, researching gear, reading stories and more. I didn’t just go to an outdoor outfitter, grab the first pack off the rack and say “this’ll do.” Just to give you an idea of how much gear I’ve bought, I bought six different backpacks as I sought the perfect fit. A failure to prepare is preparing to fail, and I will not let a lack of preparation cause my downfall.
Watch: IntrepiDan goes over his gear prior to setting foot on the Appalachian Trail.
However, buying out an entire REI store does you no good if you don’t make it to the trail with your gear.
The start of the New Year saw a cold front wash over the entire United States, and Springer Mountain was not immune to the frigid temperatures. I found myself on top of the mountain facing single-digit temperatures. I looked through my pack to find some things that would help: gloves, a beanie and a windproof buff. The problem is they weren’t there. I searched and searched and nothing. How could this be possible? I’d spent so much time making sure I had everything with me. I’d bought and returned several pieces of gear in an effort to find the best stuff.
I used Ron’s Appalachian Trail Shuttle to pick me up from my hotel room and drop me off at Springer Mountain for the start of my journey. It turns out I’d left Ron some souvenirs from the first person to start the trail in 2018: commemorative gloves, a keepsake beanie and a windproof buff memento.
The night was cold, and my hands and face were freezing. I had to use an extra pair of socks as gloves to keep my numb fingers warm as the temperature dipped closer and closer to zero. Needless to say, it was not the most pleasant night I’ve had. But I survived and started my hike in earnest the next morning, despite the missing gear and sub-freezing temperatures.
A lot of people say hiking the Appalachian Trail is a test of mind, body and soul, and I got to experience that test on my very first night. Luckily, I was able to retrieve my missing items from Ron’s Toyota RAV4. It just goes to show that the best laid plans can be undone by not checking the trunk of an SUV.
And that is the story of how I froze my butt off on my first night of camping.