3/21/18 Day 241: AT Day 1. The Appalachian Trail catch-up post!

Phase 2 of Walk The Parks has begun and I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail connecting Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah and Acadia National Parks! I am so so so excited, YES YES YES! Quick Catchup: I started Walk The Parks on July 25,2017. I connected 13 National Parks from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon! I attempted to switch from hiking to cycling, BUT, the bicycle was too small causing some significant cartilage damage in my right knee. I took some mandatory time off to heal, snuck in a 20 day river trip through the Grand Canyon, my brother came and visited (rare and awesome) and did some soul searching. In this searching I’ve decided to change the scope of Walk The Parks. My trip, my changing rules, my super super excitedness! I’m abandoning my initial route and instead will be attempting a sort of hybrid approach of connecting some parks on foot where there’s actual trail and exploring other parks in total by hiking all the trails within them, where reasonable. Why? Simply: Road walking is expensive and kind of sucks in a number of other ways! Lots of my initial route had lots of road walking. Still confident the route will be 20,000 Miles! Anyway, I’m extremely excited for these changes and that Walk The Parks is alive, well, and I’m on Trail extremely excited about the future: both near and far! Hope you are too! Ok, onto the Journal entry: The AT is amazing! My hotel wasn’t very nice and kind of overpriced and was supposed to be a gift for me but upon arrival I had to pay for it. Haha, oh well! Can’t win them all. Didn’t dissuade my excitement in the least! Woke up today and reorganized my pack, relaxed, showered and then ate some toast with grape jelly at the hotel. I got an Uber to REI with a nice driver who was chatty. At REI I picked up some things I had forgotten or not been allowed to bring on the plane. They took my photo and posted it on their wall too because I’m hiking the AT! I called another Uber to go to Amicalola Falls State Park and the start of the 8 mile Approach Trail to the summit of Springer Mountain, the official start of the Appalachian Trail! The driver was very cool and also quite excited to drive way out in the country: loved the enthusiasm! Upon arrival it was snowing lightly outside which was a foreshadow for the rest of the day. I went in and three were 3(!!) volunteers who has us sign a guidebook and have a brief speech about Leave No Trace. The one guy said I was his favorite Hiker which I thought was really nice. I was soooo excited, still Am! There was a hiker box that I took a bit of food from as well, awesome. I was off! I only took breaks to briefly chat with my fellow hikers! Approach trail really wasn’t so bad at all. Beautiful waterfall, windy, a bit snowy. Met Martha and PJ (CJ?) who were both really cool people. I hope our paths cross again! Camped with Rockin Ronnie who was really cool and chatty. He hiked 2,000 miles or so on the AT in 2015 and is back for more. Him and I both struggled but succeeded at building a fire with very wet wood this evening. Not as crowded out here as I would have thought. There was a dude with a homemade wheel barrow thing which looked so incredibly heavy! Good luck my friend! Camped with some people from Florida, Smoke Ring from NC, a guy from Rochester, NY, and a few others. I mostly chatted with Martha and Rockin Ronnie. Martha was living in DC consulting and had hike on a few backpacking trips but wanted more! Good for you, really awesome to meet you and I hope we meet again.Ronnie was a great guy, fun to chat with about the trail, build a fire with, and enjoy some magic. Didn’t get to hear him on guitar as it was too cold to play. Hopefully I’ll get to see it at some point!That’s the thing Hiking: you never know if you’ll see someone again! Especially this early on the trail, really anything could happen!Up so late, so windy. It’s super cold out too, but I’m pretty warm at the moment. Going to go to bed!

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