I left Pittsburgh shortly before noon on Sunday, April 1st. It was only 650 miles to my destination in Georgia so I decided to take two easy days for the drive. Even though my job for the last year has been driving 200 miles every day, it still seemed like a long, tiring trip. I never realized how far it is from the top of West Virginia to the boarder of North Carolina. Interstate 77 intersects the fattest part of the state and also cuts through the Appalachian Mountains for half its length. My old van got tired from going up and down the mountains, but it faithfully chugged on like a true workhorse.
I stayed overnight at a motel just outside of Charlotte, NC, and in the morning drove the rest of the way to Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. As I continually made my way south, the weather seemed to change from spring to summer. Everything is lush with deep green color (even I can see it) and the trees are filling the sky with thick canopies of leaves. Someone said the temperature reached 85 today. It’s not going to be easy hiking with heat like that.
I signed in at the Visitor Center as thru-hiker (that’s how they spell it) number 702. I flipped back through the pages and counted 45 hikers signed in yesterday alone. Everyone plays the game of saying they are hiking all the way to Maine even though the odds are stacked 90 % against them. It’s funny to see the youthful, exuberance these young people overflow with. I guess it’s good that they are so positive and energetic. What surprises me the most is that I can’t believe how young they look. I think I have underwear older than some of them. At any rate, I sure won’t be hiking alone.
I talked with a Ranger about parking my van for a while and filled out more paperwork. Before I left, she told me about a side road that leads to the National Forest, just over the boundary of the Start Park, where I could park and camp free. So that’s where I am. In the morning I will park in the extended lot and begin the hike to Springer Mountain and the start of the AT. I weighed my pack earlier and found it weighs 31 lbs., more than I like but less than a lot of others.
This unusual, warm weather will be nice for sleeping, but it will also cause some problems. For one thing, I’ll need to carry a lot more water. Dehydration is not only uncomfortable but also dangerous for a person with kidneys like mine. Warm temperatures also bring out surly snakes and excitable, biting insects, and – probably the thing I fear the most – vivid lightning storms. All sorts of things can happen out there, but the most dangerous part is over – the drive down here.
I may not be able to update for a while. If I can get a signal, I’ll try to check my phone each day for email. Other than that I will turn it off to save battery life. Thanks for reading.
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Anonymous