Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rocking chairs and chickens

Well we made it. To Atlanta anyway.  I am so excited it hasn't really set in that I won't be home for 6 months.  The flight was smooth, my pack made it in one piece.  We caught the train to North Springs about 45min out of Atlanta where Leigh (owner of Hiker Hostel, excellent lady), said she would pick us up.  There were 4 other hikers also waiting to be picked up.  A guy with a faux-hawk and large pack started walking towards me with a look that said "are you doing what i'm doing....?"  He is Ty from PA and was waiting to be picked up by Survivor Dave who was going to drop him straight at the trailhead with the hopes of getting over Springer this afternoon.  He'll only be 1/2 day ahead so I'm sure I'll see him down the trail.  There was also a younger girl (my age?), Gianna, from San Diego and a laid back retiree, Ray, from Honduras. I am already surprised at the diversity the trail attracts.  While the 4 of us were talking, a large boisterous man bounded out of the station only to immediatly run away as soon as some drug dogs sniffed by.  It took us another 15min after Leigh got there to find him.  Needless to say she was a bit irked as we still had another 45min to Dahlonega.  I was pleased at how little I cared, I'm in no hurry to go anywhere, for a long time.  It's a nice feeling.   

I am blown away at how peaceful and beautiful the Hiker Hostel is.  It is even complete with a dog named Maggie and chickens.  I'm actually surprised at how much service I am getting out here, it will be nice to know it will be there when I turn my phone on and that I can post from the trail if I want.  Dad, Gianna, Ray and I are sharing a bunkroom, there are 17 hikers here total. Breakfast is at 7:30am and then we hit the trail.  The approach trail up Springer Mountain starts at Amicalola Falls State Park and is 8.8mi. to the top of Springer.  It's technically not part of the AT, as the terminus is a plaque on the summit, but for 'purists' the approach trail is something of an initation, and a great way to kick off your thru-hike.  Plus the trail passes right by Amicalola Falls (and up the 684 steps to the top). Tomorrow morning 6 of us head out to join the throngs of other hikers in the mountains.  But for now I am perfectly content rocking on this porch with Maggie watching the sun go down.  I literally have nothing else to worry about, nothing else to do.  I could seriously get used to this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step

Hey there!  So I drank the Kool-Aid and started a blog.  I have recently decided to take my life in a new direction, all those things we always say would be really cool to do one day, I have decided to start doing.  I am launching my new life of adventure and poverty, with a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

When people ask me why I want to do this, I have a hard time coming up with a specific answer.  I really love hiking.  I enjoy being in nature.  I am not going to pretend that I am a full-on mountain woman, as I also enjoy things like shaving my legs and mattresses. I don’t know what exactly to expect from the trail. I expect it to be hard, to be tired/hungry/cold/exhausted/dirty/bored/terrified. Time on the trail has been described as long stretches of boredom pierced by moments of sheer terror. But I also expect to see beauty few people get to see. I am excited to push myself to the limit (I’ll be eating that statement later I’m sure).   I do not expect to experience some great epiphany about the meaning of life. Nor do I expect to get eaten by a bear or a one-eyed hillbilly named Festus (both scenarios have been brought to my attention).  I do hope this forced simplification of my life will influence the way I continue to live long after the trail.       

If you are curious, I have posted links about the AT to the right, as well as a really great interactive map.  It shows the trail towns I will be stopping in as well as every shelter along the AT.   So if you are wondering exactly where I am (as I’m sure I will be myself….), use the map to locate whatever shelter or town I seem to think I’m in.  I also hope to post photos as I go, I will be uploading them from my phone to my Flickr site.  I will try to update this blog as often as possible, but my time in towns/near wi-fi will be limited. I will be journaling old school along the way and basically dumping a weeks worth of thoughts online, so please excuse inconsistent rambling and general grammar/spelling errors.  I intend to be as honest as possible with you (and myself) about my thoughts, feelings, physical well-being, mental health, when I’m loving it, when I’m hating it…

I’m ready for this journey, excited for the amazing moments I will experience, interesting people I will meet, and as prepared as I can be for the total physical and mental discomfort I will undoubtedly experience. My dad arrived today, he will be joining me for the first 200 miles, and maybe more if he feels like it. Tomorrow morning at 6:30am we fly to Atlanta, where we will be picked up by two seemingly lovely strangers who will give us a place to sleep, feed us breakfast, and then drive us to the woods.  I know that sounds like the intro to a horror movie, but I am positive I am about to embark on one of the best experiences of my life.