Week 1: The First Day

Day 1: March 18, 2018

My day started at about 2:30 a.m. to get up for a quick shower and get on the road. I’d gotten sick from my supper the night before so was battling nausea into the night. Thanks so much to Audrey and Erica for offering to bring me to Omaha to catch my flight so early!

I flew out around 7 and landed in Atlanta around 10. Gathering my things from baggage claim, I made my way to the MARTA station and caught a train to the north end of the city. Here I got my shuttle ride from Survivor Dave, a 2008 thru-hiker, and met my new companions Robert from Scotland/Hong Kong and Thomas from Detroit. We made a quick stop at the grocery store and made our way north to Amicalola Falls to start the approach trail.

Prior to the trail you weigh your pack…mine came in at a backbreaking 39 pounds fully loaded with gear, food, water, and fuel. After weighing in you register–where I was designated 2018 Thru-Hiker #1201.

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The Appalachian Trail Conservancy anticipates over 4,000 thru-hikers this year! Next we had a quick orientation with the ranger to ensure we have the right gear to survive, followed by a bear bagging lesson/demonstration to show us the PCT method of hanging our food. Apparently the bears in Georgia have figured out the traditional method, which has lead to a lot of lost lunches.

Finally, we trekked through the archway and made our way to the falls. A staggering 604 steps straight up separated us and 8 more miles of trail that don’t technically count towards the AT. We gathered water at the top and pressed forward to our destination for the night–Black Gap Shelter.

Georgia has a great group of volunteers to maintain their portion of the trail and has excellent accommodations along the way. Most shelters have a 3-sided structure raised off the ground to sleep in that generally sleep 6-8 (some have 2 floors!), privys (bathrooms), bear cables (so you don’t have to throw your own bear lines), and sometimes bear boxes.

Rain came early in the night and we went to sleep around 8 p.m. We got about an inch of rain overnight, and I discovered my tent does in fact hold up pretty well to water!

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