As soon as we stepped out of the truck at Amicalola Falls State Park, the rain started. The rain couldn't stop us though. It was finally go time.
The first week on the trail has been everything we expected and everything we could never have imagined.
We knew weather would inevitably be a factor, and it was. Quickly. We knew the trail would be difficult, and it is. Continuously. We knew that the scenery would be breathtaking, the people would be friendly, the woods would be soothing. All of those things have proven to be true.
There are other things that at I didn't expect or even think about before hitting the trail. I didn't realize how quickly I would become super efficient at setting up and breaking down camp. I guess trying to race a storm will do that to you. I didn't think I would be able to understand my body like I do know. I can tell when I am running out of energy and need some fuel. Before, I would eat when I was hungry or when it was just a normal time for people to have a meal. Now I have a better understanding of when and what I need to eat to get over the next mountain. I didn't know that going downhill is soooo much worse than going uphill. That shocked me a bit. Uphill is a workout, and it's hard. Downhill is like when the doctor uses that rubber mallet thing to hit your knee to check your reflexes, but instead of a doctor, it's the devil, and instead of a rubber mallet, it's a sledgehammer.
I think the happiest surprise is how quickly friendships form along the trail. Thru hikers are one big family. You got your crazy cousins, weird aunts, cool uncles, big brothers you look up to, and little sisters you try to take care of. No matter who you meet along the trail, they are immediately part of the family, and you do whatever you can to help them. It's amazingly refreshing to be part of a community where everyone tries their very best to help everyone else in any way they can.
We have met so many wonderful people in the first week on the trail. Selfy, Chezwick, Swayze, Quebec, Spuds, Foxfire, not Rue, Psych, Waterbed, Bear, Frank the dog, not Red, Wizard, Possible, Twanda, Boomer, Jumanji, Crunchy, Lucky Charm, Rosebud, Bubbles, and so many more. Knowing someone on the trail is something like dog years. One day on the trail is like seven days off the trail. We've been hiking with Selfy for four days now and it feels like a month. In a good way.
By the way, my trail name is Juice and Brandon's is Icarus.
We are here in Hiwassee tonight. It has been nice to be back in society for a while. Feel air conditioning and beds again, have a toilet surrounded by four walls readily available for peeing. After a strenuous 19 mile day, I didn't know if I would be ready to get back on the trail. Now I'm laying in my bunk surrounded by lots of new family, and I am itching to get out of these walls and into the woods again, where it is considered irresponsible to pee in the toilet.