Day 0

Day 0:


My journey started April 1st at about 5 pm. My mom brought me to the train station in Ridgewood New Jersey (thanks Mom) where I caught a train to Hoboken New Jersey. I had secured my pack in a black moving bag which was able to zip closed, I figured this would make it easier to check my pack at the airport. I carried this large black bag through Hoboken to the 2nd Street light rail station. From there I took the light rail to an undisclosed location in Jersey City New Jersey where I spent the night on my friends’ couch.

At 5:30 AM April 2nd I awoke, took my last good shower, and called an Uber to Newark Airport. A white Tesla pulled up around 6:15 being driven by a nice gentleman. “It’s not a body or anything in that bag right?” He joked. We chatted for a bit about Jersey City and driving for Uber before he asked “how long will you be in Atlanta?” “Well I’m actually going to hike the Appalachian Trail” I responded.

He was absolutely fascinated by the idea. We talked about the trail and he asked a lot of the usual questions before sitting back a bit and saying “Wow so you’re like gone gone.” “Pretty much” I said.

As we pulled up to the airport terminal my driver wished me luck. He seemed really genuinely excited for me and I appreciated that.

I checked my bag at the entrance and got my boarding pass then headed for the security line carrying a Ziploc bag containing anything in my pack that had a lithium battery. After watching about half of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” we landed in Atlanta. The flight took two hours but the journey back will take months.

After picking up my bag at baggage claim I headed to the entrance for the Atlanta Metro and rode to Sandy Springs. It was about 12 noon and my shuttle driver wouldn’t be there till 2:30 so I went to Jersey Mike’s for a sandwich and a reminder of home.

Standing across the street from the REI where my shuttle driver was picking me up I decided I’d rather get something other than the freezer dried meals available at REI. I lugged my moving bag about a mile to a Target and threw it in the bottom of a shopping cart. After stocking up on rations I headed back to REI and called my dad to let him know I’d made it.

When I got to REI another person clearly ready for a hike was walking into the parking lot from the direction of the Atlanta Metro stop. “Thru hiking?” I asked. “No, just a long section. I’m only going as far as Damascus.” We chatted for a bit while I grabbed a can of fuel and a hat. My new companion was an experienced thru hiker who’d already completed the AT and PCT as well as the Colorado Trail. He was a nice guy with a lot of stories to tell. Maybe 15 minutes before the shuttle arrived another hiker who hadn’t planned a shuttle strode into the parking lot. He managed to get a ride with us and next thing I knew I was in the back of a Toyota FJ Cruiser with a broken windshield driving down a Georgia highway.

We arrived at Amicalola about 15 minutes after check in closed so no hang tag for me unfortunately. I may try to have one mailed to me but I haven’t figured out the details of that yet.

It all became very real at that moment. There it was the arch, the approach, the falls. A sign next to the arch read Maine, 2,190.9 miles. A girl walked past the sign and remarked “Who’s hiking from here to Maine?” “Me” I responded.

Parts of the approach trail were closed but I hiked about 7.5 miles to black gap shelter and set up my tarp in the dark. After scarfing down the second half of my Jersey Mike’s sandwich tail greeted me with a healthy thunderstorm which my tarp handled perfectly.

April 2nd 2024 I traveled 854 miles by plane 67 miles by car 24 miles by train and 7.5 miles on foot. I laid under my tarp listening to the low roll of thunder and patter of rain imagining what the next few months will bring. The only thing I’m sure of is that I have no idea what’s in store. Maybe I’ll make it maybe I won’t but I’ll enjoy everything the trail has to offer.

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Comments 2

  • Thomas O’Boyle : Apr 10th

    Hell yeah, let’s go! Best of luck, excited to follow your journey.

  • Jenella : Apr 17th

    Off to a good start. Looking to catch up on the time between day 0 and today!


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