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The first week in Georgia can be very challenging: you don’t know what you’re doing, your pack is too heavy, and the mountains are almost painful to climb. Lots of people will quit in the first 30 miles. While the first week will be physically challenging, mentally preparing yourself will help you succeed.

What to Expect

•Pain. Your muscles will be sore, your feet will ache, and you will probably have a few blisters. It won’t last forever though. Just bring enough Advil to get through it.

•Big Mountains. Hiking up mountains with 30 pounds strapped to your back is not easy. You’ll probably be wondering why you thought hiking would be fun. Once you get to your first view, you’ll know that it’s worth it. You’ll have your doubts again when you are climbing the next mountain.

•Creepy Dudes. Expect weird guys to check out your ass. It’s very creepy and uncomfortable. Luckily, there will be plenty of other hikers around in the beginning, and they will look out for you. The creepy guys will drop off the trail before too long.

•Crowded Camp Sites. You probably won’t get a spot in a shelter, and it will sometimes be difficult to find a tent spot. At least you won’t have to worry about camping alone.

•Overpriced Resupply. Neels Gap is the first resupply point. The folks there are very friendly, but their food is expensive. I would suggest mailing a box to yourself.

•Failed Hikers. You’ll see other people drop off the trail, and it can be especially disheartening if it’s someone that you consider more physically capable than yourself. Just remember to stay positive.

•Emotional Roller Coasters. You will get rained on, fall down, and have gear malfunctions. You will cry. You will also meet amazing people and feel wonderful about yourself. It’s just part of the trail, and you will get used to it.

•Short Mile Days. Initially, you probably won’t hike as many miles a day as you think you should. This might make you feel bad about yourself, but just accept it. You have six months to get to Maine, so take your time. Just bring plenty of food.

Megan Maxwell is a writer/hiker/adveturer who just finished writing, hiking and adventuring her way through a successful A.T. thru-hike. Read all about it (and other things) at her awesome blog: http://appalachiantrailgirl.wordpress.com/ And thanks for sharing with the Sasquatch Megan!

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