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This morning we drove to Springer Mountain. My dad flew himself and my brothers Nathan and Noah down from Massachusetts and met my brother Cameron and I in Nashville. Together we drove to Georgia, stopped to check out the lodge at Amicalola, and stayed in a seedy motel for the night.
As we drove up the long, bumpy, road to Springer the temperature had only risen to about 20 degrees. Once we parked, I registered with a man who was collecting names for the ATC and then we all walked to the southern terminus and back to the parking lot. We had a really great time and I'll miss them a lot.
I was feeling extremely anxious when I first started walking. It felt incredibly exciting and daunting as I rounded the first corner and could no longer hear the chatter of people from the parking lot. I walked with only a few breaks to the first shelter in about 3 hours. When I arrived there it was still really early in the day and it was full and it was full of people. What finally made my decision to keep hiking, despite the advice I'd received to start doing only 8 miles a day, was the immense amount of smoke from controlled burning nearby. Chunks of ash kept falling on the table where I made my first tuna wrap. I learned immediately that tuna packets were not something I would be able to stomach on the trail.
I continued on and walked mainly with Dave, who was 26 and from Virginia. We pushed on until Cooper Gap and it was absolutely brutal. My legs were trembling with each step I took down to the gap. I'm incredibly sore. I felt very lonely and anxious and questioned why I'm doing this but it's been amazing already and it feels so cool to be a part of this. I'm not quitting.
It's very cold outside but I'm warm in my tent for my first night on the trail. I'm praying for warm and dry weather tonight so I can stay comfortable through the night.