Planes, trains and automobiles
Who would have thought that the hardest part of the first couple of trail weeks would be getting here?!
We set off from London, England on Wednesday April 5th expecting to spend one night in a hotel in Boston before flying to Atlanta, GA the next day. But sadly it was not to be. We arrived at the airport in Boston on Thursday morning to find that there had been tornadoes in Atlanta and our flight was cancelled. The best they could do was put us on standby all day for other flights, and, failing that, book an indirect flight on Friday afternoon via Columbus, Ohio…
Needless to say, with about 3,000 Delta flights cancelled that morning, standby was rather oversubscribed. So back up flight it was… Except that when we got to Ohio, they cancelled the onward flight to Atlanta.
And that was how we ended up on an impromptu road trip across the States with a random guy called Steve that we met at 1am in an airport queue. (We kept that quiet from those at home until we’d arrived in one piece)
Throughout all this high drama, the people at the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega were amazing. Three days in a row we had to put off our booking with them until the next day, and they were so understanding and helpful, not adding any charges for changing things, and even saying we could sleep on emergency futons when it looked like we’d arrive on a day they were full. From the moment they picked us up from North Springs MARTA station everything was easy and designed to set us up for the best start possible. They even took us to Walmart for last minute supplies. Fantastic.
And so we’re finally on the AT! We started on the Approach Trail on Monday 10th, and have just reached Neels Gap early this morning. We’d heard that Neels Gap hostel was closed due to a stomach bug of some kind, so we got in early and bagged a cabin at Blood Mountain cabins up the road and are currently eating the best pizza imaginable and counting our blessings.
So this is what I’ve learned in my first few days on the trail:
- Hiker hunger happens earlier than you’d think. Four days in and I’m happy to eat noodle cup-a-soup with mash and spoonfuls of peanut butter out of the jar.
- There are are butterflies and birds everywhere! And a fair few chipmunks and squirrels too (looking more sleek than the fat ones in London)
- The first few days are steep. Really steep. Ow, my thighs.
- It is unrealistic to think you can get away without a hat to hide your hair after 4 days of sweating up and down hills (see earlier point)
- Even though we expected to be starting in snow, and despite the storms that delayed our start, it’s really warm here. Oh, for a skirt! Mountain Crossings have nothing in my size so I guess I’m clammy until Franklin…
- Keep left on the way down Blood Mountain – we got sidetracked down a really steep part, and then saw a sign saying ‘This is not the AT, go back up and turn right’. Kind of wish they’d put that at the top!
- It is every bit as challenging and beautiful and awesome as I’d hoped.
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