Where Do I Start? Pt. 1
The Approach to the Approach
Thursday evening would usually consist of me sitting in my room watching Daredevil, but this Thursday was anything but ordinary. Around Six o’clock friends and family started coming to my house, all bringing happy thoughts and hugging me goodbye. It was a bitter sweet night, but ended well with me and my best friend C talking into the early hours of the morning… nothing new for us.
The morning after, I packed my
bag backpack and got on the road with my parents, younger brother and boyfriend. A beautiful 5 hours later, and we were only 2 hours away from Amacollola Falls. At this point, it still did not feel like I was about to start an adventure of a life time.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
“Damn! It’s raining…” was my first thought when I woke up Sunday, not the fact that I was about to start my north bound thru hike that morning. My last meal before leaving for the trail was a complimentary breakfast from the hotel I was staying at, and then we were quickly on our way. It was a drive full of quick stops, to an REI, Walmart, phone calls to family members, and taking in all the plumbing and cell service I could. We arrived at Amacollala, and it took me a good hour or so to fully pack my pack and get going… this was not what I wanted or had in mind.
I love my family, and we are all pretty close. So to make the goodbye a little less painful, we ripped it off like a band aid. A quick picture and I was off. I don’t think I hiked more than .2 of a mile, and I had to retie my shoes, adjust my rain cover, figure out what was poking me in the back, check my phone, and second guess every decision I had made in the past two years.
Long story short, the approach trail KICKED. MY. ASS. There are over 700 steps going up this damn waterfall, and I am huffing and puffing going barely a mile an hour, little 5 year olds passing me, and getting drenched, and I still had a full day to go. When I finally got to Springer Mountain, I called my parents and just cried.
Now I know what you’re thinking… “You cried! It wasn’t even a part of the AT, you’ll never make it.” What I say to that is… you do it, and tell me you don’t cry after. It was the most mixed emotions, confusing day of my life and my hardest day of hiking yet.
So I have been out here for two weeks now. I am not going to give a play by play of each mile of each day, because honestly they kind of all mesh together. Sooo, I am going to do this in parts because I only have 30 minutes…
Hardest part so far?
Making big decisions on my own. No matter who I asked or what my parents said, the decision came down to me which I had never dealt with before. (I picked the right choice)
Favorite part so far?
Albert Mountain. This mountains climb up was different from any other mountain so far, and I loved it. I put my trekking poles away, took a big handful of gummy worms, and climbing like I was rock climbing. There was a view that took my breath away, it wasn’t on the map. I believe a tree had fallen that moved the brush just enough to see beyond the tree line. I could see EVERYTHING! To be able to physically see what I have done, and what I am going to do brings a sense of pride I haven’t felt before.
Resupplying? How is that going?
Great! I love going into towns, and have gotten pretty good at hitch hiking. By far my favorite has been Top Of Georgia, because they made you feel like you were home. Sir Packs A Lot gave me great tips for my hike, and Buttercup talked with me for hours. It was a great mental reboot.
Sunflower… It is a little more sissy than I had hoped for a trail name, but the story is cute. I had packed way, way, way too much food. This included almost a pound of sunflower seeds, that I did not try before I came out here. Well, they tasted like ass. So to get rid of them, at every shelter I offered sunflower seeds to people. My second night, a couple known as Snail and Sandals gave me my trail name Sunflower.
There have been two big changes to my thru hike, and they go hand in hand.
#1: Homesick struck hard and fast, and I did not know how to handle it. That is a reason I came out here solo, was to experience it and deal with it. I figured out that calling home every night helped, and I also found that even if you hike solo… you are never alone. This brought on a new mentality, that no matter what I do, I will learn and I will be ok. That is where change #2 comes in.
#2: My solo thru hike, turned into our thru hike. After a week, I called my boyfriend who was originally going to do this with me, and asked him to come out here. I realized that the things I wanted to experience, was possible with him out here. I also missed him… just a little. So after a few logistics, he came out a week later. He will be doing a flip flop, starting at Dicks Creek Gap going North, then coming back down to go southbound to Springer.
I had to write this fast, so please excuse any bad spelling… But just know that I am having the time of my life and can’t wait to share more!!!
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Hi Molly. I agree, the approach trail is some BS. I wish I could have told you to skip it and start on Springer, but now you have a great story to tell. Have fun!
Your Grandma and Grandpa Soderberg have been keeping me updated on your
adventures. It is so cool to read about your experiences BUT the standing on the
projecting rock with 1000’s of feet below made my heart jump. Also your running
and the picture of you in mid air took my breath away. Be careful and take care
of yourself. We prayed for you in church a few Sundays ago. Know that people you
do not know are following your travels. Like the tails about the bears also.