Day 4 – Mile 17.2 – Suches, GA – Nero day

I am taking a Nero day, which is a day where you hike nearly zero miles. I am ok for the most part but I have some soreness that is getting worse so I want to rest tomorrow and then continue Tuesday.

This morning Randy and I hiked 1.5 miles to gooch gap and called a hostel in Suches. They promptly picked us up and took us into town. The bunks just have a piece of carpet on particle board so it could be a rough night for sleeping.

The people who own the wolf pen country store which is connected to the hostel are really nice. The lady who picked us up has the last name Gooch, the same as the mountain I slept on last night. Its named after them.

We were dissapointed to find out that Suches abides by Georgia’s blue laws and does not sell alcohol on Sunday. We’ll have to wait for breakfast to get that ice cold beer we keep talking about.

At the hostel with us are a couple from Kansas , a guy from Florida, and an 72 year old man from Seattle. They are good company but are all heading back on the trail tomorrow.

Tomorrow should be uneventful but I am already eager to get back on the trail.

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Day 3 – Mile 15.8 – Gooch Mt Shelter

What a day. Weather was perfect and the two mountains that were supposed to be really tough were actually quite easy for me. I got into the shelter at 2 o’clock and set up my hammock to lay in the shade.

During the hike there was a beautiful stream crossing. I stopped and put my bare feet in and it felt great.

Me and the guy I have been hiking with, Randy, are going to hike to a town called suches tomorrow then take a zero day on Monday. We both have small injuries that we’d rather take care of now. Suches has a hostel that we’ll stay in. Unfortunately this means we’ll miss some much talked about trail magic at woody gap just 6 miles from here.

Tonight I am camping under the stars, no tarp.

Day 2 – Mile 8.1 – Hawk mountain shelter

Didn’t sleep much last night, partly due to it raining and me not wanting to get out and adjust my hammock. I think another reason is just not being used to sleeping outside.

I got up a little late and didn’t hit the trail until 9:15. Reached Springer Mt. And the official start of the AT a bit later.

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I have been hiking with Randy the most but we split up off and on. I met a group of girls from San Diego who are pretty fun. They built a fire at the shelter that I didn’t help at all with I threw a stick in and blew on it a little and one of them tried to give me the trail name ‘little helper’ – I dont think it’ll stick. It would be better than ‘Skirt’ which almost happened on springer when some referenced my rain kilt as a skirt.

I felt great hiking until the last 3.5 miles today. I need a big rest tonight. I am planning on sleeping at 9 so we’ll see how that goes. Tomorrow has some tough mountains. One experienced hiker said that tomorrow will make or break a lot of people.

Day 1 – Approach trail

I got to the hiker hostel at about 8pm last night. The hostel is really nice and the staff is great. I got up before anyone else and snuck in a shower.

The staff made us breakfast at 730 and by 845 we were headed to the mountain with a suburban full of 13 hikers. We had to drop hikers at various spots on the trail until finally we got dropped off at Amicalola state park. We signed the official thru hiker registry (I was hiker number 261), weighed our packs and were on our way. My pack weighed 26.5 lbs without water. Its heavier than I expected but you won’t here me complain. Some hikers had 50+ lb packs.

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The stairs up the falls were tough but the rest of the hike today was great. It was cold and windy but I felt great and was really pumped to finally be out here. I went ahead of the other six I arrived with because I was feeling so good. I made it to black gap shelter at 245 and began to set up camp.

An hour or so later hikers started rolling in but only one from my hostel group. Randy had some whiskey and shared some with me. I’m sure I’ll be returning the favor if we match speeds.

I made dinner at the shelter and met the others. There are two women and a man who have hike the AT before but they are not in a group. Also two guys came in later and they are tenting.

I am writing this from my hammock and hail is falling on my tarp. There was hail earlier and it built up and weighed down my tarp so I had to restake it so if it hails or snows throughout the night it will slide off.

I am pretty excited for tomorrow where I’ll actually be hiking the AT. There is 1.2 miles left of the approach trail and then I will be officially starting.

At the airport

I am sitting at my gate in the Portland airport and can finally relax. The last couple of days have been stressful but now I can allow myself to get excited.

I’m eager to hit the trail in less than 24 hours.

Hiking again

I have finally been able to get out and hike. With moving, working, and staying at friends and family’s homes I didn’t have any time to hike but last week I got out there and I feel much more confident now. I overdid it a little bit and hiked pretty hard on Friday and Saturday but it’s probably good for me.

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Mt. Defiance – photo by Severt Lawyer

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Angel’s Rest – via Wahkeena Falls

9 1/2 days until I hit the trail. I am not feeling nervous about starting the trail, I just hope I can tie up all the loose ends before I leave. I have to get my health insurance taken care of, finalize my gear, and a few other small tasks that seem to be adding up.

Whatever concerns I still have, I am still super excited to get out there and hike. I can’t wait to wake up in my hammock and only have to think about how many miles I want to do that particular day.

 

I’m Homeless

I finally finished moving out of my apartment. I underestimated the amount of useless shit that I have and it took about 4 days longer than expected. Every time I move I always say that I’ll never do it again. The difference this time is I did not move from one place to another. Maybe I should say I will never move IN to another place. With the help from my friends and family I am not paying to store my stuff in a storage unit, which feels really good.

I went back last night to pick up one final load of my things and the new tenant had partially moved in. It’s kind of like seeing an ex with their new boyfriend – it felt awkward. I will miss my old apartment and neighborhood but my excitement about what is to come overshadows that.

My final day of work is this Friday and then I will have a birthday/(going away temporarily) party on Saturday. After that I will wake up jobless and homeless with plenty still to prepare. One thing I have not been doing is hiking. We got hit with a snowstorm here in Portland so at least I was able to walk around in the foot deep snow with my gear to test my shoes/socks/gaiters setup and I have to say I am pretty happy with it.

Starting Sunday I will have plenty of time to hike and backpack. If I was smart I would sleep outside every night until I leave in March.

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January 18th – Mt. Hood – low of 22 degrees previous night.

Notice given

Today I gave my 2 week notice at work. My last day will be February 14th.

A Confession

I have never gone backpacking for more than one night.

Once I am done with work I will have a lot of opportunities for multi-day trips but as of now I don’t have a lot of experience. I am not worried about this fact but I just thought it was interesting since I will be going from 1 night to 6 months soon.

Over the summer my friend and I planned for a 2 night trip but forest fires and thunderstorms forced us to cancel. Then, this past holiday break I got the flu and was not able to get out.

I will blog about my experience after my first multi-night backpacking trip. Hopefully that will be before March 8th.

Things I worry about

I am pretty confident in my physical ability and to some extent, my mental ability to hike the trail. I do however have a few worries.

For one, I am concerned that I am going to get injured in some freak accident before March. A couple weeks ago I was walking to work and crossing a 4 way stop and a car ran the stop sign. I stopped abruptly and as my momentum was pushing me forward the car past inches in front of me. I also avoid playing basketball just because I have a fear that I am going to roll an ankle. I go to a gym with a nice basketball court and I will sometimes go shoot free throws but I try to avoid much more than that.

Along the same lines of an injury I am worried that I may have a financial surprise and be forced to dip into my AT savings. I am ahead of budget as of now so I have been spending a little bit more on my gear than I had planned – I hope I don’t regret it.

I still have a lot of logistics to take care of before leaving March 5th. While this is a major concern, after I quit my job I will have 2 ½ weeks to get everything in order.

I am looking forward to just having trail worries not real life worries.

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