Hampton, TN - Damascus, VA
Mileage: 427.9 - 469.9
Stepping out on the trail has a different feel when you know you won’t be returning to the starting point or any point for that matter. I think, “here we go again.” But I don’t actually believe it. It feels more like one of the many training hikes I went on. Taking pictures because I feel I need to document the beginning for some reason. Like it holds a special significance to me. Which it does. Beginning is often the hardest part. And I sure was nervous to begin this one. Would it be the same as I remember, even though I’m touching a part of the country I’d never seen before? Would I get eaten by a bear? Would I get bitten by a tick the first day?
As I work my way up a ridiculous amount of stairs, which lead to the top of Amicolola Falls, my heart starts to pump, I get into a little bit of a rhythm and the thoughts and worries disappear, feeling like I know what I’m doing out here and what this is all about. Though, I won’t be on the actual Appalachian Trail until I’ve hiked another 8 miles uphill. Yeah, I’m sure I know what I’m doing.
Georgia brought all the things I love about thru-hiking/backpacking to the table. Gorgeous weather where I could “mesh it up” at night; incredible views, sometimes squandered by poor weather that creates it’s own beauty but will destroy the view at the top of a 1500 foot climb; trail magic and all the good things that come with it; and the appreciation felt from getting to take a long hot shower post- walking day after day in rain, snow and relentlessly cold wind.
It feels good to be back out on trail. I’m able to hike 10-17 miles per day while feeling strong, both physically and mentally. I’ve met countless awesome backpackers; thru-hikers and section hikers all the same. Though I’ve not hiked with the same people for more than a couple of days. Everyone is working on getting their hiker hunger and their thru-legs.
Leaving Georgia, the trail wonders up a long climb and as I enter North Carolina, I think briefly, “Georgia kicked my ass a bit, but yeah, I know what I’m doing.” Then before I knew it, North Carolina stepped it up a notch.
p.s. This blog app is very frustrating to use when it comes to adding pictures. I’ll add as many as I can to posts, but may become fed up with the process and will add the rest when I get home. I’ll be posting some along the way to Instagram.com. A link can be found at the bottom of the page or search for @kjsilvernale or click here.