On Sunday, March 8, my friend and generous neighbor, Don Moffitt, is going to drive me down to Amicalola State Park in the mountains of northwestern Georgia. That evening, Don and I will gorge ourselves at the Maple Restaurant next to the Amicalola Lodge. Amicalola is the Cherokee word for “tumbling water” which refers to the beautiful waterfalls one mile above the Lodge. That night we will sleep in nice, soft beds. The next morning after a repeat performance at the restaurant, Don and I will head up the first mountain, me with a forty pound pack on my back. At some sane point, Don will abandon me, return down the mountain, and drive back to Durham.
I will continue on a journey I have dreamed about most of my life: a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. If all goes well, I will follow the Appalachian Mountains for 2176 miles and finish this grand adventure on Mount Katahdin in Maine. Now, if your first reaction is, “You’re going to do this alone?!” I should respond and say that it is impossible to do the AT by yourself. There is a whole community of hikers on the trail: everyone from retired school teachers like me to unemployed college graduates. Over 2000 hikers will start this year alone. 200 or so will complete the entire trail in one attempt. I will be making lots of new friends! I have allocated six months for this effort which would put me back in Durham around the middle of September. No, I am not going to walk back! I will take advantage of some form of modern transportation to return to my home.
I want you all to know that I appreciate your friendship and your positive thoughts toward my safety and personal growth on this trip. I hope I will have amazing stories to share with you.