Day 0 – The First Day of the Next 6 Months of My Life

Day 0

Miles Hiked: ~9

Miles on the AT: 0.2

Today is the day! Today we start the Appalachian Trail! I’ve been anticipating this day for well over 6 months, or really since I completed my CDT thru hike. My dreams of hiking the Appalachian Trail will start to come to fruition today and I’m so excited.

The Approach Trail

Because I want the full AT experience, we started our hike from the famous arch outside of the visitor’s center at Amicalola Falls State Park. Today was a chilly weekday morning in April, so there weren’t too many people milling around. We got to the visitor’s center around 10:30 am to register, weigh our packs, and take our official start photos.

My pack weighed in at 29.3 pounds with food and water, which was about what I anticipated. We spent the previous night at the lodge, so when I came down to check out the registration room the day before, the volunteer registering hikers told me about a guy who came in with a pack weighing 60 pounds! They spent a while persuading him to let go of some gear and were finally able to get his pack down to 40 pounds. Luckily, my pack was nowhere near that weight. All I had to do was go through the brief presentation, attach my hang tag, and get started.

After taking our photos, we headed to the westernmost trail up to the falls. The normal approach trail was out of commission due to maintenance, so instead of doing 600+ steps, we got to just do 425. Yay! The day started off chilly, but as we climbed, we started losing layers. We passed a few day hikers making their way back down from the falls and continued to wind our way through the trees.

Back on Trail

Honestly, today started out a little rough. I wasn’t sure if the fiance would make it to the starting line, but he managed to pull it off. The uncertainty of whether or not he would make it to day 0 filled me with anxiety, but finally being on the trail together hiking on our journey wiped all of that away and replaced it with excitement and joy. I’m back on trail and it feels so good!

And my body felt really good too. With each stretching step up towards Springer Mountain I could feel the strength of my muscles reawakening. My breath was even and the exertion was neither too much nor too little. It all felt so good.

Eventually we arrived at the falls and the famous steps. Boy, were they never ending! I think we took 3 or 4 short breaks to catch our breath on the way up. They’re no joke! I could totally imagine someone getting to the top of the falls and thinking, “That’s enough for me!”

Springer is Calling

For us, though, we took the opportunity to eat a snack and then continued on. And we continued to climb. It was all uphill from there. We took lunch around 1pm on a log and saw a few more thru hikers pass by on their way up to Springer. We got a little extra energy from our lunch, but soon the steep climbs compelled us to start moving slowly, slowly up. 

Rocks dotted with mica glittered at us as we rested on the side of the trail. Again, a few more people passed us. Soon, however, we were taking our last steps to the top. We made it to Springer Mountain and the first white blaze!

We were greeted with a beautiful view of the mountains and valley below, the sun beaming through the light cloud cover, shooting rays over the whole scene. A picture perfect end to the start of an unpredictable journey.

We didn’t have to go far to camp. We set up our tents at the Springer Mountain Shelter site, gathered water, and settled down to eat dinner with a few of the other hikers around the fire. One guy had just completed his decades long section hike of the AT and another guy was celebrating a birthday. Norovirus was a big topic; there were tales of people throwing up in shelters and having to get evacuated. Our goal is not to get norovirus, so we’re planning on washing hands frequently and avoiding touching anything related to shelters.

Despite the warm company, the air turned chilly as soon as the sun went down. We scrambled to finish our nighttime chores before full dark and before our fingers froze. Once inside, we could finally relax a little. Yes, it was super cold, but we had each other to keep us warm. Despite our hiccups, we made it on trail and to the top of Springer.

Here’s to day 0!

Follow my journey on instagram (@jenbrownhikes) and youtube ( for more updates!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • jhonY : Apr 17th

    I am following here, YouTube, and IG. And I just want to thank you. Kinda great follow the AT vicariously with such and experienced hiker. Good Walking to YOU ! BTW, Nice posting.

  • John Staehle : Apr 17th

    Too many people that don’t have any common sense about hiking or back packing. Having grown up with miles of backpacking made me appreciate the outdoors.


What Do You Think?