When my alarm finally went off I was already wide
awake. We did get some sleep, but the adrenaline was just too much. I had been up since 5 am, just what I needed before our first day of hiking, right? Our final decision was not to do the approach trail, a decision that took us a month of changing our minds. Ron of Ron's Shuttle Service took us up the forest service road to the southern terminus trail head parking lot. During the one hour drive the fog seemed to get thicker as we climbed and it started to rain a bit, not what we were hoping for.
We had to hike back a mile to reach the official start of the Appalachian Trail, sign the log, and get those first pics of starting this journey. I have to say this felt so surreal. Is this what living out a dream feels like? Because damn we were flying high. The smiles were ear to ear. Seeing our first white blaze sent a chill down my spine, damn today is a good day. The thick fog and gloomy morning gave way to a beautifully sunny day with no rain. It was like the trail was welcoming us home. We ended up hiking 9 miles on our first day. Overuse injuries are a big deal out here. So our plan is to start with low miles and slowly work our way up.
Even though we had set up camp so many nights on weekend backpacking trips, this felt dramatically different. It felt like the start of something amazing. We set up camp at Hawk Mountain campsite that night and slept like babies in our hammocks. I cooked dinner and got our evening water. Missy was not hungry, had to force herself to eat. One thing you have to do out here is eat.
We woke up to the sound of rain tapping on our tarps. It sounded like the trail was giving us a gentle alarm. However that did not last long. The minute we got out of the hammocks the downpour began. This is one of the many benefits of hammock camping however. We get to make coffee under the rain tarp and pack up camp while staying pretty damn dry. Then reality set in as we hiked the first 3 hours in the rain. And yes, we were the last ones to get out of camp.
The rain was nice enough to stop over our lunch and then right back at it. We ended up hiking in the rain all day; Missy under her umbrella, and full rain gear for me. The fog made the trail look like a movie at times, it was easy to see the beauty in it.
I mean we are going to hike across the country right, we might as well get used to the rain. The trail brought us to Justus Creek campground and no one was there, however there was no trees to use to set up camp. This was a bit of a surprise for the A.T. But no worries we hiked a little further up to mountain to Black Creek Campground and we had the place to ourselves. Missy had to step into the rushing river the night before to get into camp and her feet, socks, and shoes were soaked. She woke up and cried as yesterday was a hard day and I think the nerves and realization of how crazy this journey is, was hitting her. You will learn out here it is okay cry.
Once again we awoke to the sound of rain, but this time it was unbelievably heavy. Trying to put the hammocks away under the tarp as it was pouring rain was interesting. The rain was hitting the ground so hard it was splashing back up. Out the end of my tarp I could see the hikers with tents struggling in rain gear trying to put their tents away, it looked horrible. The ground was a muddy mess, all my clothes felt a little damp because of the moisture and the fog was so thick I could almost taste it. Mother nature was going to let us know early that long distance hiking is tough and messy. Challenge accepted!