Nemo and I started our Appalachian Trail journey the 12th of February, 2015. We had a decent idea what we were getting into, although we made some significant miscalculations…
Chiefly regarding how we setup our mailed ration system. Perhaps the biggest challenge of the AT is also its biggest ease, it’s seldom difficult to get off trail and into a local town. Where we half expected to enter a town every week or so, it has proved easy to go into town every few days. We found ourselves scrapping most of our ration plan on day 3, splitting our plan in half, we went from 14 – 16 day rations to 6 – 8 days apiece. We were exceedingly lucky to have the support of my sister Nicole for our first few rations, (and several other times while we were near her stomping grounds) although we probably doubled the number of times she had to come and meet us to drop off our rations. By another stroke of luck we traded some fancy cheese we had, in exchange for the shipping a bounce box forward with the 2nd half of our 1st ration. (Thanks again Janeane) Rationing was probably our biggest recurring challenge while on the AT.
Our other miscalculation: winter. Now this may sound foolish, but Nemo and I are from Minnesota, we figured Georgia was going to be practically tropical by comparison. We weren’t totally wrong on that, on one of our coldest days the temperatures were floating just below zero Fahrenheit, Nemo got a text from his Father whom up in cabin-land had seen minus 40. After Improvising some crampons and snagging some extra layers we were mostly out of the woods on this count.
Lastly and less of a miscalculation, I started the trip ill, and maybe still am. It’s been overall mild but early on had an acute phase which knocked me off trail for a week to see a doctor, and wait for the roads back to trail to get plowed. (another thanks to Nicole for facilitating this) I’ll spare the details, but it’s been manifesting as periodic stomach bug, a couple days of symptoms with a gap before recurring. The gap between episodes has been getting longer so I’ve just been dealing with it as needed. As far as I have seen or heard, it hasn’t transmitted to anyone I’ve traveled with.
At Unicoi gap Nemo and I were greeted at the end of a struggle down an icy descent from Blue Mountain by the a fire rescue truck. They asked if we had seen a 240 pound bald guy up there. We hadn’t, but shortly thereafter he came marching out of the woods after us, looking completely unfazed, with some decent walking crampons on. Having found who they were looking for the fire rescue service offered us a ride into town, we took it on a whim and met maybe our most significant companion of the AT, certainly the first half. Rescue, as he came to be known, split a motel room with us, and was taken aback at Nemo’s calls for, “hotel sword fighting” only to be more bewildered to find that I was carrying a real sword. We left him in town during the next snowstorm, being bored and unfazed by the Georgia snow, but it wouldn’t be long before we met up with him again.