People used to say that on the part of the trail, right after you cross into North Carolina, there were a lot of locals who weren’t crazy about having so many outsiders pass through the backcountry. So they’d hang hooks from the trees on fishing line, to catch the eyes of passersthru.
It freaked me out a lot passing through there. I heard gunshots, and it was foggy a lot of mornings. There was a feeling on that part of the trail that I never got anywhere else.
I never really understood why, but that’s where most hikers would disappear too… and you could see the nerves on everyone else’s face as well. Now, they were also just getting started. The adrenaline had worn off by then, and we were really feeling rough for the first time.
It still freaks me out to think about looking up some time to get a hook straight in my eyes or my mouth. Or to catch one on my ear. No warning. And then you’re stuck til you can cut it out.
Maggie hiked the Appalachian Trail (The AT) in Spring to Fall of 2004. She took the South-to-North Route, passing over 2,200 miles of wilderness trail.
I think that it reflects the morale of AT hikers that the Georgia-NC border is considered to be a dangerous area. It’s topographically unremarkable, but is probably the first point at which the adrenaline of starting the trail wears off.
This is a warning tale unique to the AT in that it is about people rather than about natural threats to AT hikers. The AT is so remote, it’s very infrequent that hikers are set upon or threatened by other people. Typically, bears pose a much greater threat. This threat is passive – a trap set by a maniacal and unknown adversary who is long gone by the time hikers are hurt.