Hey everyone! Sorry it's been awhile, I've been enjoying being a bit off the grid for awhile, plus I was having a great time meeting all the other hikers on the trail and getting used to shitting in the woods. I promise I will try harder from now on:) So far this journey has been totally amazing. After waking up on the 15th at the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega, GA, my dad and I were shuttled along with 6 other hikers to Amicalola Falls State Park, the base of the approach trail. I got to start my 2,184 mile wilderness walk with 604 metal stairs, but it was gorgeous walking alongside the falls, so I'm glad I did. My dad, "Steamer" (formerly George, stayed at the hostel with us, and has been hiking with my dad since) and I made it to the top of Springer together, the official start of the AT. We wanted to stay up there and celebrate the start of our adventure a bit longer but battling the entire gnat population of planet earth forced us to move on. We camped on Springer mountain the first night, where I experieced my first lightning storm in a tent on top of a mountain, so I guess I can go ahead and check that off the bucket list. After that first night, the number one spot on the list of shit I'm afraid of out here was officially awarded to lightning. The wind was circling the summit and sounded like sharks circling their prey. Even though the first night was a bit terrifying, the 25+ hikers camped at the top awoke excited to start the hike, as did I:)
The trail is more crowded than I ever imagined. It is starting to thin out a bit as people spread out or drop out (at least 2 from the group I got shuttled with have already gotten off the trail due to injury. One guy in the group of six I've been hiking with since the start had to take a break as well, but he's jumping back on the horse soon:). I love the vartiety of people that are attracted to the trail, one of the first guys I met was a dude hiking with skinny jeans and a machete. I also saw a guy with a HARD cooler strapped to his pack.......don't know where they are now..... but I am currently in Fontana Dam, NC, some 164.7 miles from the start. I've been hiking with an awesome group of guys who have become my 'trail family' for the time being. Met them on the first day at Springer and have been hiking with them since, though we have lost a few along the way. We were a group of 6 that has now been reduced to 3, one (Chill Cruise) got off the trail due to injury (but hopefully coming back this week:), and 2 others, Rayo and Capslock (he is the loudest individual I have ever met) have moved ahead of the rest of us. This morning Pete (aka "Hollywood" - if you met him you would understand why), Stephen (trail name TBD - though we like calling him Kobe) and I are set to head into the Smokies. Hollywood has hiked this entire section and knows what's coming. It's gonna be pretty streneous but gorgeous so I'm excited. This is also bear territory so I better see one (haven't yet). I just hope the weather lady is lying when she says it's gonna rain for the next 6 days.......
Overall my body and gear are holding up great. I'm sore everywhere a lot of the time, my ankle and knee are a bit stiff (mostly do to a fall I took while night hiking a few days ago). We all have little welts on our hips from our packs and numerous discolorations/bruises/rashes/bites that I have no other explantion for other than that is what one acquires when living in the woods. My right arm is a different race than the rest of my body since it is constantly in the sun while hiking. My shoulders have finally accepted the weight of my pack and no longer scream at me when I put it on. By far the hardest physical limitation is getting enough calories. I feel like I'm always hungry. I devoured mulitple pounds of chinese food at our first town stop. My gear has held up great in a few storms, including setting up camp in the rain. I feel as ready as I can be for the next 2,019.5 miles:) I think one of the best things about the trail so far is the amazing support and help you get from complete strangers out here. I love that I get to be on top of a mountain everyday and am ok with the fact that I have to climb it to get there. Life is simple out here and I am loving every second of it.
I promise I will get better at blogging and posting pictures - I have surprisingly NO personal space or privacy (except when I am hiking) on this trip. It's hard to find time to journal when you're sharing a small campsite/hotel with 5 guys. But I'll update more soon I promise - I've also uploaded all my pics thus far to flickr. If anyone wants to hear about anything particular - more about the AT, how we set up camp, people etc...let me know, I'll post about anything:) Otherwise I'll see ya in the Smokies kids.