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I am two weeks out from starting on the Appalachian Trail and I received my AT camper registration reminder via email this morning. I had made this registration back in November and at the time I was only one of five people who were planning on starting April 1st. I decided to check the registration when I got the email and it turns out that since November…55 more people have decided to sign up! I will be one of sixty people! Second highest number of people starting the AT besides March 1st. I have yet to buy my train ticket, so I am considering starting one day later, April 2nd when only 26 hikers are signed up. Besides starting with less people, by pushing back my start date, I am increasing my chances of catching a glimpse of the cherry blossoms that surround the tidal basin in DC that I have heard about all winter. So far, the official start date of my AT hike is April 1st, but I guess the trail is already teaching me to be flexible.
Besides starting date crises, I am debating and re-debating every little piece of gear in my backpack including the back pack itself! I also have a laundry list of errands I need to run and things I need to take care of before I leave my apartment for potentially 6 months. I would like to call this special time before my hike as frantic freak out time or “AHHHHHHHHH.” Should I use permethrin or not? Am I seriously going to be able to bear bag or should I buy an Ursack? Is my bear rope even long enough? I am nervous that my hip belt is too tight and if I were to lose any weight then it would not longer fit me properly and my backpack would kill my shoulders. I decided that my shoes are too small and, in an effort, to prevent black toe nails I bought new larger shoes, but the new ones are hurting my feet in new ways – geez. My original pack weight was 19 pounds but during my shake down hike I found that I was too cold at night, so I added a couple luxury items and not my backpack feels way too heavy. I really should have invested in a scale.
My latest gear debate revolves around rain gear. While practicing packing my backpack, I found multiple holes in my Frog Toggs and then impulsively bought more expensive rain gear. I tried it yesterday during a downpour and every seam failed miserably, turns out that I had to water proof every seam of my gear, huh? But it is new! Now I am stuck trying to return failed gear with a company that is not responding to my calls and find new Frog Toggs. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime? It is funny, I was replacing gear with gear I dislike more and then having to return. I have decided to officially stop that practice and just see how the trail shapes my needs. Money does not grow on trees, especially when you are nearing voluntary unemployment.
With two days left at work, I have finally started telling the residents and patients I work with. Turns out that two of the residents of my facility have actually hiked the Appalachian Trail, how fun! One gentleman went by the name of “Buckeye” and the other section hiked the entire trail and went by the trail name, “A-Nony-Mouse.” He told me right away that I needed a trail name. Don’t worry A-Nony-Mouse, I am working on it.
Besides the negative emotions associated with a huge life change, I am so incredibly excited for this adventure to start. I am also kinda proud of myself. I set up a two-year plan to make this happen and now this time is here. I put everything in order and it is working out! Besides the loved ones that have expressed concern, even more are expressing genuine interest the closer I get to my start date. Friends of friends are reaching out to me to wish me good luck. My boyfriend’s Grandma wants to track me online to see how far I’ve gotten, I love that!
Acquaintances who have hiked the AT have offered to come pick me up from the trail at a moment’s notice if I were to get into a sticky bind. At this present time, I feel so supported. I feel like I have fought so hard for this, have already battled so many obstacles but things are turning out for the better. People who were nervous for me are now sharing in my excitement. Just stepping foot onto the Approach Trail at Amicalola Falls will be accomplishing a goal and I am finally allowing myself to think that I can accomplish this goal. God willing, I will be in Georgie this time next week! Happy Trails!