About the Author: Pat-Rice Z is a Jersey girl who has relocated to the DC area. She is a 2019 AT Thru-Hike hopeful who is considering going NOBO or leapfrogging, however the adventure unfolds. You can find her on Instagram @halfway_to_the_sky. To see the rest of her posts, click her name above. 

April 1 – April 8

 I’m currently sitting in a laundromat outside of the Budget Inn in Hiawasse and I hate it. I hate being inside, I just want to be outside. I have no idea how I could convey all the emotions and the experiences of the last week but I can say that my previous life feels far far away. 

To get here, I took a 12 hour train ride from DC to Gainesville, GA and just stared out of the window the entire time. I felt like I was in limbo. I fortunately was able to call a shuttle the day before and the driver waited two hours at the train station for me because my train was late. His little dog jumped onto my lap and I got to  pet the sweet thing until I was dropped off at Amicolola. I’d seen pictures of the arch a million times but it felt so surreal standing in front of it. I am NOBO hiker #1736. 

The Approach Trail was no joke but I made it to Springer 6 hours later and cried. I was officially on the AT. I’ve never been very extroverted but I decided to be when I got to the trail and I do not regret it. At every shelter I say hello to everyone and have made some fast good friends. It is true what they say about hikers- they are pretty friendly and you get to know people pretty quickly. A group of us watched the sun set while standing at Springer Mountain the first night. This will always be one of my favorite AT memories. 

I have loved every experience. I love the views, the climbs, all my gear, and the people I have met. I am really very satisfied with my gear. I have yet to be too cold or uncomfortable and yes it has rained. 

My third day on the trail a guy we call Music Man hooked us up with dominoes pizza and beer – you should have seen the joy on everyone’s faces. 

I’ve been so thankful for every painless step and friendly person I have met. My right knee has been bothering me after a spunky day of bounding down a mountain but since I didn’t twist it or fall on it, I suspect a bruise and am going to ice it and take it easy a couple days. I have no intention of stopping only after one week. 

It is such a privilege to be out here, to be safe and to have the opportunity to do this. This is the best gift I have ever given myself and I have never experienced the magnitude of joy as I have this last week. Even if tomorrow sucks, at least I have last week.