Today was the big day! I left Amicalola Falls at ten till 9 this morning to head to Springer Mountain, where the official trail begins. The approach is 8.8 miles and was not as difficult as I expected. I made it to the summit in a little less than 5 hours. A beautiful view! I teared up (but didn't full-on cry) when I saw the plaque (is that the correct spelling?) and the first blaze. I've been saying all along that this whole thing hasn't felt real...it definitely felt real in that moment. I waited for my parents to get there (I made better time than I expected so they were "late") and we had a nice photo shoot. They hiked with me down to the parking lot where their ride was waiting and we had a tearful goodbye. Then I was off on my own! I planned to stop at Stover Creek Shelter but there was only one other person there. It was about 4:30 but I decided to push to the next shelter, Hawk Mountain, 5 miles away. I rolled in about 6:30 and it is crowded! There are probably close to 30 people (maybe even more) and there are tents all over the place. Unfortunately since I was late to arrive, all of the good spots were taken. My tent is on a bit of an incline and I can already feel myself sliding downhill. I also blew my sleeping pad up a bit too much so it's pretty firm. Should make for an interesting night! It's about 40 degrees now and is supposed to be in the 70s for the next few days. Hopefully that will make for some pleasant hiking.
So, how was the first day? Overall, not bad. I pushed myself harder than I wanted to so I will probably only do about 8 miles tomorrow, versus today's 16.6. I feel okay, but I know I need to ease my body into this. This lifestyle is certainly going to take some getting used to...it's strange to be in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, but I know that most everyone else feels the same way. So, 7.8 miles down, 2173.2 to go!
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