I’m writing to you from the Hiker Hostel in Georgia right by the AT trailhead. As was expected, it’s really nice, especially by hostel standards, and the hosts are incredibly charismatic. Josh, who picked me up from the airport, and his wife Leigh built the hostel after they realized the dire need for one after their thruhike in 2000. Before they built the hostel getting to trailhead was an ordeal to say the least. From the airport in atlanta, would-be thruhikers would have to take a greyhound bus to gainesville, then take a cab ride from there. Because of the monopoly cabbies would regularly charge upwards of 100 dollars for the 30 minute drive. Add in inconvenient bus and flight scheduling and many hikers ended up spending their first night camped out right where they got dropped off by the cab.
Needless to say, getting to the trail is now a relative cakewalk.
It’s really good to be here. Honestly, it hasn’t sunk in that I’m actually doing this, it feels more like a dream than anything else. I know many challenges await me, but I think my first will be to grapple with the reality of it. I almost feel like when I wake up tomorrow I’ll be back at home, instead of trying to put in a 13 mile day.
In order to make the hike more managable, I’m trying to break it down into bitesized pieces. My goal right now is to make it past Neel’s Gap, 30 miles away. According to Josh something like 20% of potential thruhikers give up before Neel’s. In fact, just last night Josh picked up a hiker off the trail who decided to turn around. Apparently it’s not an uncommon occurance.
Josh also said that over the past two weeks he’s dropped of an average of 35 hikers per day. That might not sound like a lot, but when all 35 of those people intend on sleeping in the same spot at night, I imagine it can become quite a crowd. Needless to say I’ll be in good company for a while.
In other news, it’s an evening of firsts. I made my first trail friend. Her name is Sarah, aka Yappy, who first hiked the trail in 1989. She’s come down from Alaska to give it another go. She’s very friendly and certainly lives up to her trail name. I think she wears it proudly. Along with my first trail friend, I’ve had my first, of what I expect to be many, obligatory gear conversations. Yappy approved of my choices.
That’s all for tonight, breakfast is at 7:30 and I want to try to get a good night of sleep in first. I’ll try to update from the trail if reception allows, but if not the next time I’ll have internet could be up to a week from now.