Yep…back on the trail

March 30th, 2021

If you are reading this, I’m currently on the Appalachian Trail (AT), attempting to hike from Georgia to Maine. I hope to provide a weekly update where I am, and how I’m doing. For my own personal safety, I’ll be having a lag in posting new updates to protect myself while on trail. Not that I’m worried, but better to be safe.

As I write this post, it is exactly two weeks before I hit the trail. It is March 30th, and sitting at home in front of a nice fire. Still winter here, and will be for weeks. We are seeing the first signs of Spring with some grassy patches here and there, but the lake is still frozen and at least a foot of snow and ice everywhere.

Next Tuesday, John and I will be travelling to Ottawa. The following day, I have a Covid test at Shoppers Drug Mart. A negative test is required to be able to board my flight and enter the U.S. We will stay in Ottawa for a few days before I have a 6am flight Saturday. It’ll be a long day – Ottawa-Toronto-Chicago-Atlanta. Arrival in Atlanta is expected around 2pm.

What will be fun this time, is I made a new friend on Facebook. She has always wanted to hike the AT. We’ll be flying out together, sharing a room in Atlanta and Amicalola State Park. Then we’ll hit the trail together on April 14. How long we hike together will be anybody’s guess, but it’ll be nice to be with someone I know.

So…I’m sure the questions are many…like why are you hiking, and is it safe with Covid-19?

The first question – why am I attempting the AT again- has gnawed at me from the moment I left the trail in 2019. It has weighed on me so much that I knew I’d be back, but hadn’t counted on Covid ruining my attempt last year. Last year, we didn’t know what we know now.

There is something about the AT that brings me back. I got a taste of it, and until I complete the trail, I will keep trying and trying. When I ponder what took me off trail last time, I like to think I’ve conquered those concerns.

Biggest issue was I wasn’t mentally prepared. I buckled too easily, and in hindsight, I should have gotten off trail, rested and come back. That long drive back to Canada made me want to turn around and get back on trail.

Second issue was my technique hiking downhill. Brutal mountains killed my knees and hips. I knew I hadn’t trained enough prior to getting on trail, but my downhill method of using hiking poles was all wrong. That pain was too much to much.

I also know, I was super dehydrated – a rookie hiker mistake. I realize now that dehydration leads to sore muscles and cramps. When I hike now, I make sure I’m drinking between .5 to 1 litre water per hour.

One thing that has given me leg strength this winter when I can’t hike much outdoors: indoor recumbent bike. This nifty non-electric bike has been perfect as it is far better on back and knees relative to regular exercise bikes. Every day I hop on and bike 20 miles.

So I’m feeling really good about the trail. I feel a bit wiser, mentally and physically stronger. Overall, much better position than my first attempt.

So what about Covid-19 while hiking? Firstly, being outdoors and on trail is fairly safe. There is some interaction with other hikers, but I’ll be wearing my mask both on trail and in towns on resupply. Secondly, the U.S. has done a very good job of vaccinating the public.

Hardest part I believe is missing John and our little homestead. I know I’ll get homesick, but keeping in contact with John every few days will help.

So that’s it for now

Tuesday, April 6

And away we go. 6:30am, packing the car and beginning our 8+ hour drive from our home in the bush to Ottawa. We awoke pretty early so we could run the generator and charge our solar batteries just in case. Our fridge and chest freezer need to be running 24/7, so hopefully we’ll see continued sunshine for next couple weeks.

Tomorrow morning I have a Covid nasal swab test. Not going to lie, that nasal swab freaks me out. John says it’s a quick in and out. I, being the irrational one, picture a hockey stick being jammed up there. Thursday and Friday will be chilling time, visiting friends and maybe get in a short hike.

Sunday, April 11th

Wow, 10 hours slept last night. Was so tired after a long day of travel that I went to bed at 8pm.

The day started in Ottawa, getting up at 3am. John drove me to the airport, said our goodbyes as I headed towards security. First flight was at 6am. This was a short flight to Toronto, arriving an hour later. Then it was onto Chicago and finally arriving in Atlanta around 2pm.

Weather was overcast, but didn’t matter as it was nice to see all the green everywhere. Back home, we still have snow and ice. Once checked in, I decided I had enough time to visit the AT&T store to get a US SIM card. Was super smooth process, now I have a US phone number for next few months.

Capped of the day by eating at Chipotle for the first time. Wow, the chicken burrito was amazing. I had read good things about this place and was disappointed.

Back at the room, chilled for a few hours then off to bed. Tomorrow I’ll be going to REI for a few items and then Walmart for food resupply.

Monday, April 12th

I’m an hour I’ll be departing Atlanta to Amicalola State Park. Ron’s Shuttle is picking me up around noonish.

Had a few errands to run this morning: mail some stuff back to Canada and a last minute trip to REI. Funny, the greeter at REI said “hey Nina, back again.” Funny she remembered my name from yesterday. Even had time for breakfast.

Interesting thing that I noticed leaving Canada for the United States. I was a bit worried about people wearing masks versus no masks and pleasantly surprised at Chicago airport. Never saw one person without a mask. In Atlanta, it didn’t matter if we went to Walmart or REI or US post office, restaurants and hotels – everybody wears a mask. So I was pleasantly surprised by that.

View west – Appalachian Mountains

Tuesday, April 13th

Today, I hiked from the lodge to the visitors centre. Approximately 5 miles – uphills, downhill, switchbacks tested me. Whew!

At the visitor centre I weighed my pack – 26 pounds! Guaranteed I’m at least 10 pounds lighter than I was in 2019. One hiker I was chatting with, his pack was 52 pounds!!!!

Once back at the room, rather than just sit back and relax, I went into recovery mode. That is something that I didn’t do last time out. So my recovery plan when I finish a day is as follows: two ibuprofen, energy bar, electrolyte recovery drink and finally lots of stretching. I have to say, and I know it was only 5 miles, but I feel great!

8 thoughts on “Yep…back on the trail

  1. Malcolm Robert HOPKINSON

    Hi Nina, well that was a surprise to hear you are back on the trail. I believe you kept that top secret!! Never even heard a whisper from John. Well we wish you all the best, it sounds like you are much better prepared than last time and it will be nice to walk with someone. Keep us posted. Hoppy


    1. Lol Hoppy! Yeah, I kept it quiet and asked John not to say anything. I was embarrassed after quitting so early in 2019. A new update will be out soon, and lol, I had quit the trail again. Happy to say I’m back hiking.


  2. Pauline Hopkinson

    Wow this is exciting for you and we all are rooting for you and will look forward to all your updates . You sound happy and much more versed in what you need to do for his time for better results. Whatever happens , just enjoy , have fun and all you can do is your best so we wish you the best , Stay safe and healthy. We were sorry we didn’t get to have John over this last time as due to our new covid restrictions , it wasn’t possible but we will keep in touch so we know when he comes down next time ,


  3. Amanda Mellway

    We are so proud of you for doing this again! It is clear you are so much stronger and far more aware of how to do this. Enjoy and we look forward to seeing your journey! ❤️


  4. Kristina

    You go girl!!! I’m so proud of you for taking on this amazing challenge again…. I know how disappointed you were in 2019 when you had to stop. I look forward to your updates on your adventures. You sound so pumped and very much in control.
    Remember….its not just the destination, enjoy the journey. ❤


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