LIVE from Amicalola Falls – It’s Saturday Night!

Well, Here We Are

Reporting live from the lobby of the Amicalola Falls Lodge on the eve of my AT thru-hike – and what a whirlwind of emotions!  I barely slept this week (and thanks to my fancy new Garmin watch I can quantify with data how badly I slept, what a treat).  After decades of dreaming and a full year of planning and anticipation, my body is like a live wire, electric with nervous energy.  It’s so hard to wrap my head around the fact I’m finally setting off on the APPALACHIAN TRAIL.  I’m excited – how could I not be?

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about my troublesome left knee, still a little wonky from a skiing accident five years ago, and how it will fare these first few weeks as I settle into my daily rhythm.  I’ve been on many backpacking trips, ranging from a weekend to a month, but this is the first time in years I’ve felt nerves like this.  I’m honestly a little surprised at myself.  Yeesh.

Still – I’ve done everything humanly possible to prepare my body and mind for this grand adventure and I’m confident that, at the very least, I will not regret a single day on the trail.  Breathing that sweet Georgia air, mixed with the gentle tickle of campfire smoke, snapped me out of a mental funk as I stepped from the car and approached “the Arch” this afternoon.  I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!

Amicalola Falls, kind of

Amicalola Falls, least impressive angle possible. Regular Ansel Adams, over here.

Does This Tent Still Work?

An important lesson for everyone at home – camping gear does not last forever.  I bought this sweeeeeet ultralight bivy sack a dozen years ago from Mountain Hardwear, and in my mind, that was always going to be my AT shelter.  I set it up in my backyard about a month ago and had my fiancée blast me with a hose – which immediately blew out any trace of waterproof seams the tent had left, including the entire window.

Tent, no window - poop

Pictured: A tent that is NOT coming with me. Alta disapproves too.

After some quick research and excellent customer service from the good folks at Zpacks, I managed to get ahold of their new Plex Solo tent with enough time to set it up a handful of times in the backyard.  It was a huge unforeseen expense (i.e. huge bummer) and had me panicked for a second, but it seems like it’ll work out for the best.  It’s significantly roomier and lighter (by almost a full pound) – thank you science!  I did the same for my pack (eight years old) and my sleeping bag (15 years old).  They were ultralight by the standards of the time, but man, have times changed.

Gear List… In A Few Days, I Promise

My plan was to post my “official” Gear List yesterday or today, but it’s been such a whirlwind trying to get the last couple of things checked off my list, I find myself the last person awake seemingly in this entire hotel while I wrap up this post – and I think it’s time to turn in for the night.  I’ll post about all my gear when I hit the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) or maybe a little further on.  It’s coming, I swear.

Until then, thank you to everyone who’s wished me well in the last few days, and I hope to see some of you out on the trail!

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Comments 3

  • UB & AL : Mar 6th

    Hi Will, I have been watching on the trek for weeks for your posts. I’m so happy to have your first one.
    UB and I are a couple of your greatest supporters, we’re looking forward to each and every post.
    We’re also looking forward to time with Em while she’s home. ❤️ AL & UB

  • Mike Callahan : Mar 7th

    Good luck and be safe man! I’m stoked to read about your trek over the next few months. It’s quite the task to do solo but from what I’ve heard it seems like you’ll run into people along the way. Though I believe you are more than capable anyways. Slow and steady especially if that knee acts up. We’ll have to catch up over a drink the next time you are in Jacksonville.

    – Your cousin Mike

  • Helen Ross : May 23rd

    Hey Will!
    It was so nice meeting you at the Pavemint in Front Royal!
    You go, Will!


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