In addition to packing and getting our affairs in order for when we’re gone, we also made time to say goodbye to everyone in our lives before heading out for good. Though I’ve insisted that we’ll be able to stay in touch, when you tell people you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, the consensus is that you’re actually going out to live in the wilderness to chop down trees and scavenge for food like Thoreau or something.
Sidenote: If you haven’t read Walden, Thoreau’s “wilderness” was actually much like what my own will be…did you know he routinely went into town to visit his friends and gather supplies? What a hack (just kidding, Weaver). But seriously, that makes us pretty much the same, minus the cabin-building part. I have a tent. And probably cell service on most days. But otherwise identical, as it truly will be Life in the Woods. So anyways, my friends and family are convinced we’ll be Crusoe-ing it when in reality I plan to stay as connected as I usually am, which is not much.
We had some friends stay for a final weekend hurrah of beer and well-wishes, and even made a last-minute trip to Wisconsin and Chicago to see a couple of college roommates one last time. We finished up our jobs and paid our bills and cleaned up our house (thanks Kelley and Dasa for being adventurous like us and generous enough to let us keep our stuff there!) and made about a hundred trips to REI to pick up the little stuff we forgot. We said goodbye to our families and assured them we wouldn’t be carrying a gun (too heavy, duh) or be eaten by bears. I chopped off a foot of my hair so it doesn’t turn into dreadlocks by Saturday (hopefully).
We broke a sweat jamming our packs into the trunk of Travis’ car and made the voyage to Amicalola, where his mom was kind enough to meet us in order to drive his car back home to DC. She took the requisite arch photos at the visitor’s center and left us at the foot of the mountain with only the most basic form of transportation to carry us forward. We looked down at our feet in our boots in the red Georgia clay and up at the trees climbing high into the sky. And, after all of the months of planning, packing, and prepping, it was suddenly time to begin.