About the Author: Hi there! My name is Katelyn Barok, but in the hiking world people call me “Rogue.” I am born and raised in New Jersey. I am a Special Education Teacher by trade with a passion for hiking, which explains the name “teacher gone Rogue.” My current goal is to section hike the entire Appalachian Trail on extended weekends, Winter/ Spring Breaks, and my summer break! Follow my adventures in their entirety on roguehikesthetrail.com. Instagram: @katie_barok.


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Day 3, William Brien to Elk Pen, 9.5 miles

All of a sudden around 3AM I heard a large branch snap. Panic immediately set in and my mind gravitated towards the branch our bear bags were hung on. There weren’t many good spots and we decided to hang them together, which was a risky move considering their bag must have weighed 15lbs.

Should I get out and check? What if the branch just broke and the food is laying on the ground? Then what would I do with it? Risk having it in my tent? Well, I can’t just lay here knowing it couldn’t have been an animal at all. What if it is a bear? Then what would I do?

About 15 minutes passed of me battling my own thoughts and I decided to check it out but not alone…

I crept out of my tent and walked right by Claudine and Yuri’s tent, which they heard me and I shared what I heard. I expressed my fears of going alone and Yuri said he would come with me. The bear bag was right where we had left it. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

A few hours later having an agreed upon wake up time, we all began to stir. We broke down camp much quicker than the day before. Yuri seemed to be the last one again. He said he only needed 10 more minutes, which turned into thirty.

Rather than sit and get eaten by bugs, I headed up towards the shelter because there was a lot of trash left in the fire pit like a large, plastic container for pretzels. I planned to pack it out. By some miracle, a man came right around dusk and packed out all the trash.

Once Yuri was all packed up, we began the trek. It was a rushed day, to say the least, to make it back to the car.

Later that day, we were resting after the Seven Lakes road crossing near Lake Tiorati and the water tower waiting for Claudine. A hiker walking NOBO passed us and we began to chat about where he had camped last night, FingerBoard Shelter. This shelter has frequent bear activity and was one we had purposely planned to avoid. Two nights prior a bear stole a man’s backpack right after slashing a hole in his tent and eating his food. The man was setting up camp and saw the bear coming, so he ran to the shelter to join the other people to scare off the bear. Well, the bear wasn’t scared and eventually looped around the shelter to the guy’s tent taking his belongings.

Why share this story you may ask? Well, this guy who had just camped there rolled into camp at around 7PM and was “too tired” to hang his bear bag! He knew what had happened two nights ago and still did what he did! Somehow, he didn’t get his food taken but that’s why these problems continue to exist. Please hang your food or use another approved method!

Shortly after came this rock climbing experience, which was risky yet thrilling. I was the only one that took the hard route. I practically almost slipped trying to figure out a way down. Luckily, there were two-day hikers who were attempting to climb up right before I was about to climb down. They graciously took my poles, backpack, and guided me back to safety. On to the Lemon Squeezer! My friends did not partake in the Lemon Squeezer but being a purist, I sure did!

I knew the trip was coming to an end as the number of day hikers we were passing were increasing significantly. The car was in sight and I had officially section hiked 2 states: New Jersey and New York. Only 12 more to go! Of course, there was only one way to celebrate.