A view of the Appalachian Mountains.
Photo by Zoë Symon

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5 Lessons from the First 5 Days (Zoë's AT Hike Part 2)

This post was originally written for The Trek during my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. In it, I discuss 5 things I learned about the Appalachian Trail in the first 5 days of my hike.

Zoë Symon       Trip Report       01/02/2020

Zoë Symon

Trip Report

01/02/2020

Originally written for The Trek. See the original post here


It’s now the end of day five. I’m comfortably camped after leaving Neel Gap this morning. Here are a few things I’ve learned since being on the trail:

1. The approach trail is no joke.

I hiked the approach trail the first day on my way to Springer. No, it hasn’t been the most challenging part, but for a first day, it was tough! First there’s the stairs, and finally there’s an ascent of Springer. In between there are enough up and down small mountains to wear anyone out!

2. Poles help.

If used correctly they can help propel you forward. On downhills (and to a lesser extent, uphills) they can help take some of the pressure off your knees. It took me a day or so to get used to mine, but now I love them!

3. Uphills tax lungs, downhills tax knees.

Pretty self-explanatory. I’m watching my downhills. My knees have to last until Katahdin!

4. Blood Mountain isn’t as difficult as you think it is.

This may only be true for me, but I didn’t think it was as bad as some of the other summits we did! The uphill isn’t bad, there’re lots of beautiful views at the top, and if you go slowly down, you’ll be okay.

5. You don’t have to be alone unless you want to be.

There are enough people (on the beginning of the trail at least) that you can always find people to camp with. I’ve been hiking with a really amazing group of people so far, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!


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Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the oldest National Scenic Trails in the US. Its path takes you from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

2200 mi (3540 km)      $59.99 full guide

Learn more

Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail
Photo by Zoë Symon

Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail
Photo by Zoë Symon

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the oldest National Scenic Trails in the US. Its path takes you from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

2200 mi (3540 km)

$59.99 full guide

Learn more

Get our trail guide for this area!

About the Author

A woman wearing glasses sits in front of a bamboo grove.

Zoë Symon

Zoë grew up in North Carolina and first heard of the Appalachian Trail during her time in college. In 2016, she took a leave of absence from her job and thru-hiked the trail. This adventure fostered her love for the outdoors and for hiking. Currently, she explores the public lands of Oregon. In 2017 she joined the team at Atlas Guides as Creative Director. She spends her days improving experiences for all our users.