GA

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." - Dr. Suess 
 This was me one year ago today, 11:00 a.m. at Springer Mountain in Georgia.  I had walked the 0.9 miles up to this plaque from the parking lot on the forest service road in about 15 minutes.  My head and my stomach were filled with butterflies as I took those steps, saying only “excuse me, excuse me” as I was passing the crowds of people going up to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  When I finally got there, I took a look at the view, got my photo taken (above) with the first white blaze of the AT, and then wrote a rambling, nonsensical, excited first journal entry in the log book.  This is it, 5 million steps until I quit.   
 It was such a beautiful, warm, sunny day on March 27, 2012. My plan for the day was to walk until I felt like I didn’t want to do it anymore.  Even so early in the day, I was passing people setting up their tents for the day on the side of the trail and meeting lots of hikers.  The thing that really stuck out in my mind was how excited we all seemed, greeting everyone walking by with a smile and awkwardly listening to people trying to decide if they had a trail name or if they should use their real names.  I immediately began with using my trail name, feeling like it was a totally different persona.  People almost looked relieved when you gave them a trail name, as if to say “well, you’re doing it, so I can too!”  But enough with my first day memories! 
 I had no idea how much this day would completely change my entire life. You hike the AT and you know something is going to change. In fact, Warren Doyle (a 17-time thru hiker who holds seminars a few times a year) has been known to tell everyone he meets who intends to hike that if you don’t want your life to change you shouldn’t go.  I feel like one year ago today isn’t an anniversary of a journey beginning, I feel like it’s more of a birthday.  I discovered so many things about myself on this trip, even if it wasn’t apparent to me at the time.  I made life-long friends with people who I only knew for only a few days, which is mind-blowing to me.  We all supported each other and, in a way, became a family in a short period of time.  For all of those who were with me on the AT in 2012, be it as a thru hiker, a section hiker, or a trail angel, you helped me become the person I am today and sharing that portion of my life with you means a lot to me.  
 In less than one month, I’ll be leaving my home in Knoxville behind to continue on my journey.  I’ll be moving to Millinocket, Maine to work at the Appalachian Trail Lodge for the hiking season.  If the job works out for the summer, it’s possible I’ll stay on year-round.  One year ago today I would’ve never guessed this would be my life.  I’m excited for all the changes and I can’t wait to share all my new travels and experiences with you.  

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." - Dr. Suess

This was me one year ago today, 11:00 a.m. at Springer Mountain in Georgia.  I had walked the 0.9 miles up to this plaque from the parking lot on the forest service road in about 15 minutes.  My head and my stomach were filled with butterflies as I took those steps, saying only “excuse me, excuse me” as I was passing the crowds of people going up to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  When I finally got there, I took a look at the view, got my photo taken (above) with the first white blaze of the AT, and then wrote a rambling, nonsensical, excited first journal entry in the log book.  This is it, 5 million steps until I quit.  

It was such a beautiful, warm, sunny day on March 27, 2012. My plan for the day was to walk until I felt like I didn’t want to do it anymore.  Even so early in the day, I was passing people setting up their tents for the day on the side of the trail and meeting lots of hikers.  The thing that really stuck out in my mind was how excited we all seemed, greeting everyone walking by with a smile and awkwardly listening to people trying to decide if they had a trail name or if they should use their real names.  I immediately began with using my trail name, feeling like it was a totally different persona.  People almost looked relieved when you gave them a trail name, as if to say “well, you’re doing it, so I can too!”  But enough with my first day memories!

I had no idea how much this day would completely change my entire life. You hike the AT and you know something is going to change. In fact, Warren Doyle (a 17-time thru hiker who holds seminars a few times a year) has been known to tell everyone he meets who intends to hike that if you don’t want your life to change you shouldn’t go.  I feel like one year ago today isn’t an anniversary of a journey beginning, I feel like it’s more of a birthday.  I discovered so many things about myself on this trip, even if it wasn’t apparent to me at the time.  I made life-long friends with people who I only knew for only a few days, which is mind-blowing to me.  We all supported each other and, in a way, became a family in a short period of time.  For all of those who were with me on the AT in 2012, be it as a thru hiker, a section hiker, or a trail angel, you helped me become the person I am today and sharing that portion of my life with you means a lot to me. 

In less than one month, I’ll be leaving my home in Knoxville behind to continue on my journey.  I’ll be moving to Millinocket, Maine to work at the Appalachian Trail Lodge for the hiking season.  If the job works out for the summer, it’s possible I’ll stay on year-round.  One year ago today I would’ve never guessed this would be my life.  I’m excited for all the changes and I can’t wait to share all my new travels and experiences with you.  

Day 3

This day started at 3 a.m. when Norman said “uh guys, we’ve got bears!” they shook the trees our bear lines were on and my cheap ass Walmart bag snapped right at the buckle and fell into the mouths of three hungry, relentless bears. These bears were not afraid of us and ate all my food. They continued to circle us until daylight, leaving Bob and I up tending the fire and trying to scare them off when they’d come close. They were big and didn’t want to leave! Thankfully, I had a ride down to Helen for groceries and some trail magic before I left to make it easier! After coming back, there were a ton of tough climbs and relentless sun and humidity. After 7 more miles I was toast. It was a short day and I was dehydrated, sunburned, and exhausted. Hoping for a better day 4!

Day 4

After a rough day 3, day 4 absolutely rocked! I got a lot of sleep last night, which I really needed. I was sad that my friend Bob didn’t make it to camp, but decided to press on even though I was lonely. I left camp at 8:30 and made it to Blue Mountain Shelter at 11:30. After refilling my water, I ran into Zip Code, Ice Pack, and Fisher. We talked about the rain headed our way and tried to decide a game plan. Around 12:30, the rain had gotten a little heavier and we pushed down to Unicoi Gap. Ice Pack wanted to hike on, but Fisher, Zip Code, and I decided to get into town. On the ride down, we got poured on! It rained all afternoon, but we had hot showers an clean clothes! After texting and calling everyone, I was worn out. Had another great day! Tomorrow promises to be tough with a 1.4-mile, 1046 foot elevation gain right out of the gap. Promises of cheeseburgers at Tray Mountain will push me through though!

Day 2

Staying with Seth and Norman, emailed Seth about TWLOHA. Met up with Bob at Jarrard Gap, pushed it all the way past Bull Head Gap by accident. Almost 20 miles! Tough day and going to do short tomorrow, maybe 7-10? Neel Gap was awesome. They had pizzas, cokes, and AquaMira since I ran out yesterday. Another great night with a great fire! Looking forward to whatever tomorrow brings :)

Day 1

Met lots of people today. The first 8 miles were easy until Hightower Gap! Then we had to climb Mt Sassafras. I learned from Graham Cracker (thru 2002) that “Sassafras will kick your ass” is a popular saying. I agree. Ended up staying at 14.4 miles, a campsite with nice tent pads. Stayed with Andy (baby scrooge), Bob, an Allegra and Jake. Hoping to see Bob most of the day tomorrow. Seems super normal. Trying to go to mile 28, but might need a bear canister? Hoping not, otherwise it will be a super short 10-mile day :( military helicopters started at 9ish and haven’t stopped for nearly an hour. Hoping they quiet down soon! Lots of bloodroot and purple trillium here. Also saw some bleeding heart! A great 1st day on the AT.