Reporting from Top of Georgia: Ready for Level 2
I’m 1 1/2 weeks in! I’m adapting to the rhythms of the trail. Setting up and taking down my tent, purifying my water, and, of course, the hours of walking, all are solidifying into habits. It gives me confidence to know I can get used to such a different life. One of the guys back at the Mountain Crossings outfitter at Neel’s Gap (mile 31.7) mused that the reality of the trail is what pushes people off if they’d spent too long dreaming about it; I’m glad to know I’m not struggling with that.
Relatively speaking, though, the last 9 days haven’t been so challenging. Yes I’ve been sore at times, yes I’ve had to wrestle with an uncooperative camping stove (just bought a new one, finally), but we’ve had almost none of the cold and rain that typically test thru-hikers in their first weeks. That’ll all come back in the next few days, people are saying–just as the mountains start getting steeper and higher. I’m at the very northern edge of Georgia–in fact I’m taking my zero day at the Top of Georgia Hostel, highly recommended–and North Carolina will start bringing some tough uphills and downhills, especially towards the Smokies. Not to mention this year’s early outbreak of norovirus just ahead.
But I’m ready for Level 2. It essentially requires the same basic skill: bracing for the wind, ready to bend like a flexible yet firm young tree. That way I can take whatever storm the trail throws at me without snapping in two. Everything must be subject to change, to impromptu thinking on my feet: how I set up my tent, pack my bag, cook my food; my pace. Then no matter the challenge, I can shift and still function. It’s like at the restaurant I worked at–just have to be ready to do the job, whatever it is.
In other news, I have a trail name! The other hikers have caught on to how much whistling I do while I’m hiking, so I’m Whistler now! I’m looking forward to getting to know that name.
It’s been beautiful so far. Three times so far I’ve camped with a bunch of others on a mountain top, watching the sun set and then rise over the other hills. I haven’t taken a single picture, nor do I wish I had.
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You should be taking pictures. Not of the views but of the viewers. Take pics of your trial family as they will come and go without notice. What was that guy’s name with the pepperoni sticks duct tapped to his hiking poles (stolen from another bloggers post). At least with pics you’ll be able to remember who it was.