Week 1: 110 memorable miles!

It has now been 9 days since I started hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) on April 2, 2016 and what a walk the first 110 miles  has been! On April 2, I signed in at Amicalola Falls, as pictured and was hiker 1208 for this season of northbound thru-hikers. 

Two dear friends from DC , Tully, former AT thru-hiker, and Meghan came with me to Georgia to start the trail.

I write this post from AT legend Ron Haven’s Budget Inn Hotel in Franklin, NC. I am here with two hiking partners, Christian “Patriot” and Byron “Pantry” that I met this week and have been walking with on and off for the last week.   

A view of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains in the Nantahala Forest near Carter Gap Shelter.

Over the last weekend, I have met so many other wonderful, friendly and colorful thru-hikers (at least 50, with about every third person as a woman) and section hikers from all over the United States, and even Germany. There are thru-hikers as young as 13 to as old as 70.

The weather has been springlike and winter like with temperatures ranging from 20 degrees to 63 Fahrenheit, and the winds have been whipping so hard they could blow your jacket off to non-existent. 

Patriot, me, Trail Angel “Many Waters,” Pantry and I stopping to filter water and stumbling upon trail magic (free beers) at the end of a day of hiking in North Carolina.

The days start early, around 6:30 am with waking up, breaking down camp, and eating a Clif bar for breakfast and then start not too soon after with a full day of walking up and down hills in Georgia and North Carolina. 

We’ve walked through tunnels of rhodendrums, and spruce, poplar and hemlock trees. We’ve heard owls hooing in the early mornings and heard coyotes just before bedtime. I’ve recorded my thoughts, feelings and reflections on the days’ miles, people met and hikers I’ve interviewed for the “Sounds of the Trail” podcast (more to come soon).

Patriot, Pantry, Nomad and Darkness waiting to catch Ron Haven’s free hiker shuttle to Franklin, NC. I took the downtime to interview Nomad for the Sounds of the Trail podcast.

We’ve hiked and chatted about families, where we are from, what you’d rather eat for the rest of the trail (cheese or Clif bars), played trivia games, solved riddles, walked in silence, walked with music, and walked lost in thoughts. 

Trail magic at Hickory Flats, GA with the Georgia Adventurer’s Club. i interviewed Wildchild, pictured in the gray sweatshirt for the Sounds of the Trail podcast.

The first week on the AT has found me a happy camper with many new friends, a newfound appreciation for trail maintainers who keep the trail well groomed and cleared. 

The First Baptist Church in Frsnklin, NC serves free breakfast to thru-hikers in March and April.

My appreciation for the goodness of friends and family at home sending positive support in emails and texts and the well wishes of many people met on the trail providing jokes, or free food in the form of trail magic, along with free rides and thru-hiker discounts in towns. 

A view drom Blood Mountain, the highest point on the AT in Georgia (4,459 feet).

I had read about these emotions and experiences but the experience has been truly indescribable.

My feet and legs are feeling good; my bear bag throwing skills are improving; my hunger is growing; my ability to go to sleep before the sun has gone down and wake up before it rises has strengthened; and my excitement for what each new day and leg of the trail brings is growing.

Now for the next 2,080 miles!

Me arriving at mile 109.8 at Winding Stair Gap in Franklin, NC.

4 thoughts on “Week 1: 110 memorable miles!

  1. Dear Laura, You sound wonderful! You look wonderful! And your pictures are wonderful! I’m so happy to read how well things are going. Keep sending us news. Michele

  2. I completely agree with Michele! I am so glad you’re having such a fantastic time, meeting great people, and enjoying the hike. Looking forward to your next update!

    Love,
    Theresa

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