Greetings from Springer
The day I have been waiting for has finally come, but not without a handsome amount of obstacles.
After deciding to delay my departure by two days, Ryan and I rode out after dark for a 6 hour drive from Durham to Georgia. A few hours into the drive we were struck by the notion that driving ’til 3am didn’t sound that fun. We started cruising for a spot to camp around Kings Mountain, SC. Knowing the state parks were long closed (and being rejected by Crowder state park) we decided to park in a quiet lot over which loomed a terrifying, burnt out, decapitated skeleton of an old brick factory. We slapped the back seats down and threw our pads out to sleep in a space I wouldn’t call bigger then a picnic table. Ryan and I passed out immediately, engaging in the familiar sound of a night of snore wars between super powers. I slept fantastically except for the state park law enforcement officer waking us up around 3:30 a.m. obviously trespassing, I’d expect to at least have to move from our lone parking spot, but the cop didn’t seem to mind. In fact I was barely awake for the seconds it took to hear Ryan’s description of our intent to sleep there and to watch the cop strut back to his squad car, apparently convinced that we were, in fact, very tired and not worth his time. Best case scenario to waking up to flashing lights in my book.
The next day we got on the road early for the remaining 3 hours. About an hour into driving the alternator belt slipped and the engine heated up fast. After 5 hours of waiting for a tow, repairs at the dealership, and a delightful lunch at waffle house we were back headed south bound.
All the goodbyes sunk in at once and I got a lighting bolt of homesickness.
We pulled into Amacilola State Park around 5 were I promptly noticed I left the good half of my clothes. My daily uniform of a stained yellow hiking shirt, women’s purple Columbia hiking shorts, and some of the finest boxers money can buy were hanging out with my friends in Durham. I shrugged it off best I could and got hiking. It was past 6 p.m. and I had almost 9 miles to my camp.
I don’t think I took 10 steps before I felt my first rain drop slap my cheek. I decided to power through and hike without stopping. The light held out for a while but the last 2 miles were dark. Night hiking is delightful but with a rain fog mix you’re limited to what’s close in front of you. Most of the time I couldn’t see more than 8 feet down trail. A more rational man would have stopped and decided he couldn’t get to Maine in one night but I wouldn’t compromise. Around 9:30 I hit the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the true start of my journey. I wish I could tell you I screamed with joy but I didn’t. I glanced at the famous plaque set in the rock that detailed the journey ahead in timeless and weathered bronze, and moved past it to make camp.
With the evening’s hiking behind me, I finally let myself realize everything about hiking for 5 months that I didn’t want to admit to myself. All the goodbyes sunk in at once and I got a lighting bolt of homesickness. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stress of leaving without preparing yourself to be alone. I was without the people I spend all my time with. It’s silly how we take for granted those who make bad days better, make you smile when you don’t want to, and inspire you to keep on going.
Its so clear to me that I cannot get to Maine alone. I just have to remember I never planned to. Tomorrow is the first day of school, trail school, and I have friends to make. I’m exited for this adventure knowing that I stand on the shoulders of family and friends at home. I’ll make them proud.