I bought my tickets to Georgia today, so I guess this means this is a real thing. Even though I’ve spent the past two weeks obsessively planning, and I’ve never considered not going, I had a surprisingly strong visceral reaction to the moment of purchase.
The plan right now is to fly next Saturday, the third, to Atlanta Georgia. From there I’ll take a train to North Springs (I think?) which is anywhere from 50-80 miles away. Once there I’ll be picked up by a shuttle from the hostel I’m staying at on Saturday night. The next morning, after an included breakfast, they’ll shuttle me to the trailhead. I’m excited to be there. The hostel looks pretty quaint (hikerhostel.com – how did they manage to score that url?) and the person I spoke to on the phone seemed very nice. As a bonus I should be able to meet some of the people I’ll be spending the next six months hiking near.
After that my plan gets a lot less… structured. Loosely, I’m going to shoot for about ten miles a day average during the first week, and ramp up my pace slowly after that. I’m nervous about destroying my feet or injuring myself the first month in so I don’t want to push myself too hard. Eight miles a day average would be fine by me to start.
After 3-4 days (30 miles) I’ll buy more food and fuel in Neel’s Gap, which according to my guidebook has a great outfitters and plenty of good food choices. My next resupply is another 3-4 days out after that. I haven’t planned much beyond that. I know some of my fellow hikers will have had their entire first month planned out weeks ago, but that just doesn’t feel right to me. On the practical side of things, I’m not going to know how my body will handle the stress until I get out there, so estimating mileages seems fruitless. On the more philosophical side of things, a rigorous plan seems to get in the way of the carefree adventure aspect of the trip. I’d rather roll with the punches and make a few mistakes than plan out every mile.
On the gear side of things, I have almost everything. I’ve already blown past my optimistic goal base weight of 15 pounds, I’m at 19 without a lot of my miscellaneous stuff included. Still, I think it’s not a bad starting weight and I’m sure I’ll be able to shed pounds as the trip goes on, particularly as the weather warms up.
I’ve been on a bunch of day hikes to test out my gear and to get my feet in shape. They’ve been an absolute blast and have reminded me, in moments of doubt, why exactly I’m doing this. On my first hike it was a little over 30 degrees out and I had the park all to myself. It was blissful. A light snow in the afternoon only made the hike better.
My sleeping bag (I’m sleeping on the porch tonight to test a new bag) is calling to me, so I think this is all I’ll write for now. Hopefully this will get more interesting once I get on the trail. For now, here’s a quote from a book I’m reading I like a lot. Tomorrow I’ll saw the book in half… But that’s another matter entirely.
“‘On the contrary, I am struck by a coincidence,’ cried Ivan, warmly and good-humoredly. ‘Would you believe it that ever since that scene with her, I have thought of nothing else but my youthful greenness, and just as though you guessed that, you begin about it. Do you know I’ve been sitting here thinking to myself: that if I didn’t believe in life, if I lost faith in the woman I love, lost faith in the order of things, were convinced in fact that everything is a disorderly, damnable, and perhaps devil-ridden chaos, if I were struck by every horror of man’s disillusionment-still I should want to live and, having once tasted of the cup, I would not turn away from it till I had drained it! At thirty though, I shall be sure to leave the cup, even if I’ve not emptied it, and turn away-where I don’t know. But till I am thirty, I know that my youth will triumph over everything-every disillusionment, every disgust with life. I’ve asked myself many times whether there is in the world any despair that would overcome this frantic and perhaps unseemly thirst for life in me, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t, that is till I am thirty, and then I shall lose it of myself I fancy.'”
-Ivan from The Brothers Karamazov
Can’t say I sympathize with him entirely, but it’s a pretty sentiment all the same.