Our Snowy Overnight

By Maria Pickerill, E&H Semester-A-Trail Student | Spring 2021 Semester

On Friday, Feb 5, we packed up our gear for the first time and met at the outdoor building for our first overnight. When we arrived we weighed our packs for the first time (this was because we finally had all of our gear). After that, we sat down and listened to Tilghman Moyer, a Semester-A-Trail alum, give a small talk about his experience. Tilghman had come to Emory to spend the weekend with us, and impart us with some wisdom from his 2019 thru-hike. He talked about a lot of different things: chafing, water sources, food choices, and so on. The most memorable thing he talked about though was how we should focus on the present. Instead of focusing on making it to Maine, focus instead on making it to the end of Georgia, because the further ahead you look, the disheartened you get. He also emphasized the phrase popular in the backpacking community: “hike your own hike.” This essentially means hike the trail in a way you enjoy, rather than hiking it the way someone else tells you to. This sounds easy, but how often do we get derailed in our day-to-day life by those around us? I can definitely say this happens to me a lot, so I plan on really focusing on hiking my own hike. After Tilghman talked with us, we loaded Jim’s truck up with our stuff and headed out to the trail.

The hike itself was exhilarating, and there were tons of beautiful views as we hiked along the Appalachian Trail. Once we arrived at the campsite, we set up our tents. This was only my second time setting up my tent, and let me just say that it’s a learning process! I set mine up on a slight slant, and I spent all night sliding into my tent wall. Lesson learned! Throughout the night, I could hear the snow coming down. It was a quiet and calming sound. As the night went on, my tent got warmer and warmer (which was because of the insulation of the 2+ inches of snow that had fallen overnight). Anyway, when I awoke in the morning, it was a winter wonderland. It was seriously SO BEAUTIFUL. It looked like something from a movie. After we packed up our snowy gear, we gathered together and ate a quick breakfast before departing for the trail again. Instead of hiking all the way back on the Appalachian Trail, we took a shortcut on the Creeper Trail, which was flat and wide (easier not to slip in the snow that way). The hike down to the trailhead was breathtaking. The trees, the leaves, and the trail were all dusted with a thick layer of snow, and a clear blue creek cut through the snowy landscape. This was a moment that I will remember for a long while, and I am so glad that we, the 2021 cohort, were all able to experience it together.