We All Start Somewhere: Beginner Backpacking Stories from Experienced Backpackers

The Fastest Way To Dry Wet Socks

I have many examples of stupid things I’ve done on trail, but one of the dumbest also happens to one of the first.  It was just a few days into my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. A small group decided to go in on one of the cabins at Mountain Crossings to find some relief from a thunderstorm that was rolling through the area that day.  The socks that I had been hiking in got soaked and didn’t get a chance to properly dry before we were getting back on trail. As everyone was packing up, I had the brilliant idea to toss my still damp Merino wool socks into the oven at a very low temperature. Within minutes, one of my fellow hikers said, “Do you guys smell smoke?”  I ran over and opened the stove, and sure enough, I had burnt a hole the size of a tennis ball in one of my three pairs of socks. I am very dumb.
– Badger, Appalachian Trail / Pacific Crest / Colorado Trail
Beginner Backpacking Stories from Experienced Backpackers

Lions, and Tigers, and Owls. Oh My!

On my very first backpacking trip, my boyfriend and I chose to camp at The Haystacks along the Loyalsock Trail in PA. We hiked into the woods with a five-pound tent, backpacks that we previously used for school, and no knowledge of how to hang a bear bag. As we set up camp for the night, and the sun was starting to sink, we watched the forest come to life. Suddenly, an owl hooted right above our site. It scared me so much that I broke down camp as fast as I could and ran five uphill miles on a pitch dark trail all the way back to the car.
– Spot, 900 miles of the Appalachian Trail

Life Lesson: Pee Outside Your Tent

Day one of my AT thru-hike and I arrived to the first shelter dazed and exhausted. It was later than expected so I threw up my tent, only ate a protein bar, and tried to settle in for the long night. Then, I had to pee. It was cold and already dark so I fumbled in my tent for a gallon ziplock bag. I thought this was genius. So knees aching, I tried to kneel and squat and whatever to make this happen. Successful! Feeling pretty proud, I put the bag aside and try to rest. Not 30 minutes later, I have to go again. I pull out the bag, kneel, and spill the urine all over everything. I try to mop it up with my socks and move to the side of my tent. Needless to say, I froze and shivered half naked, curled up with just my sleeping bag liner until morning. Lesson? Get out of the tent.
– Flame, Appalachian Trail 2018

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