Georgia, You’re a Real Peach

The Beginning

All of the planning, purchases, and logistics have finally culminated to the start of the trail. On March 12, I set out with a pack full of gear, water and (probably too much) food weighing in at a total of 29.9 lbs. Kevin and our dog, Bradley, were there to see me off as I ascended up the trail through Amicalola Falls State Park. Having just said goodbye to my partner in life for the next few months but at the same time beginning this epic adventure I’ve been planning for so long, I was feeling all kinds of emotions.

I had this moment where a big gust of wind swept through me while I was shedding a few tears and suddenly I just knew things were going to be alright. I know, I know it sounds cheesy but sometimes, you have to grasp on to those feelings.

On the Road Again

Georgia is one of the few states I’ve never been to and I feel pretty damn lucky to have experienced it for the first time on foot. I don’t even know where to begin! The kindness of strangers, the beautiful mountains and well-kept trails (s/o GATC), the incredible trail towns. Everything about this state made the beginning of the trail feel welcoming, despite the initial challenges of learning how to live on trail.

On the first day alone, countless people who I passed on trail were filled with words of encouragement. The amount of times I heard “you got this!” from complete strangers is too many to count. Seriously guys, if you want a confidence boost just head out on the AT for a day.


If the people who aren’t even hiking the big hike are this encouraging, just imagine the community of people who are in it together. By the end of day one, I had met so many cool people that were all out there for different reasons. One guy was out there reliving his “trailaversary” from when he thru-hiked in 2015 and shared a lot of his knowledge with those of us while we sat at the first shelter with him. Cloppy, who now reigns as a triple crowner, got us all psyched up for the trail and even provided me with a camp beer for the next day. Super cool dude and really happy to have met him at the beginning of the trail.

Photo by Ben, beer by Cloppy
Tramily dinner before a cold night

There’s this saying that goes around in the long-distance backpacking world that “the trail provides” and let me tell you, there is a lot of truth to it. My second night on trail, as I began my “camp chores” and started setting up my sleep system for the night, I accidentally ripped a huge hole in my sleeping pad as I opened the valve to inflate it. In my defense, that valve is SUPER difficult to open and you really have to pull on it, though I should have been a little more careful. Thank goodness for my new trail buddies (s/o Jetpack, Hunter and Ben) that were camping beside me who had plenty of supplies and experience to help me mend the tear and at least get through the night. This was the moment we began to become our own little tramily (aka trail family).

Waiting out the rain at Blood Mountain Shelter

I made it through the night but woke up with a very deflated sleeping pad and morale. As I hiked out the next morning, I stopped at the next shelter to use the privy (when nature calls) and began chatting with another hiker who was about to become my first trail angel. She asked me how my night was and as I shared my mishaps with her, she swooped in to save the day. Savannah was section hiking this part of the trail and had just purchased a brand new Thermarest inflatable sleeping pad to test out on trail. She wasn’t a huge fan of the pad due to weight/length issues and offered to sell it to me at a discounted price. I quite literally jumped for joy! She saved me from another cold and uncomfortable night in my tent before I could get to Neels Gap to purchase a new pad (at market price). These are the kinds of people you meet along the way who make this trail community what it is.

The sun is shining, the tank is clean

I could write forever about what happened in the first few days and miles on trail but then this post would probably be 1000 paragraphs long and probably only appeal to people who are out there with me so I’ll try to be concise. I’ve found this far that sometimes the good, the bad and the ugly can all come at once on the AT. You can have a downpour of a day where you’re hiking down a mountain that has turned into a river but smiling at the fact that there’s a town at the bottom of that mountain where your friends and a warm meal are waiting. You can have a freezing cold night where you barely sleep but the sun eventually comes up and the birds start chirping and you’re ready to get back out there to see what the trail has in store today. At this point I’ve hiked through a rainstorm, eaten my weight in oatmeal, walked over 100 miles, crossed a state border, and met some of the kindest people I’ll ever know. Grace, another trail angel who took myself and my trail buddy in on a night where the temperature was going to drop into the 20s, gave us my new favorite trail motto: we chose to jump in the river, now we have to enjoy the ride.

Grace aka “RU” aka Hitch-a-Hiker aka the greatest human in Hiawasee (I might be biased)

Georgia came and went in the blink of an eye but North Carolina is already gearing up to be a beautiful challenge. The first few miles into the state earned it what I deemed “sour patch kid status”; first it was sour, then it was sweet. A good, sweaty climb followed by rolling trail that led right to the town of Franklin, where I sit finishing up this post. Franklin, by the way, is a super cool hiker-oriented town in the midst of the Appalachians if you ever get a chance to visit. Great Smoky Mountain National Park lies ahead along with unpredictable weather and trials along the way and I couldn’t be more excited for it!

First state down!

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.

What Do You Think?