There is nothing that can put into context my experience over the last week of being on the AT. Hopefully with a few photos at least you can see a few things I did, however keep in mind photos NEVER do it justice of the places we really visit. And they never can encompass the emotions you feel when you take them.
The idea sparked two days before we started our Blackberry Farm trip outside of Knoxville, TN when Michael and I were doing some research for the trip. I bought a $1 park trail map and did a small hike that was to eventually be part of the trip. As I opened the map I quickly noticed the AT goes smack dab right through the middle of the park! Hmmm national park close + having most my gear with me = random adventure?! That day I went to Little River Trading Company which is an adorable outdoor outfitters in Maryville and asked a guy named Matt if I was crazy to just go hide out in the woods solo for a week. His answer couldn’t have been any better…”not at all”, as he just did the entire AT on a complete whim.
So it was set and I called my mom to break the news to her and ask her to ship a few gear items. Now I just have to figure out how to pull a backcountry permit, ditch the TT van in a safe spot for a week, get a ride to the trail head, figure out a ride after I finished close into Gatlinburg, a ride from Gatlinburg back to Walland where the van was, and how the hell to pack for 8 days of food needs…all with less than 12 hours on my hands before starting a trip. Simple, wing it! Basically everything fell into place and people I met along the way were generous. The outdoor world is amazing and paying it forward is so important. The day before we finished our TT trip (2 days before trail time), I went back to Little River Trading Company and asked if anyone would be interested in giving me a ride. Mike, an older gentlemen who helped me decide on a hydration system stepped up to the plate since he had that morning off. He also ended up being such a great help while I was out there since I could text in a few of the areas. He also let me know it was a win win situation as being able to hear about someone’s first experience on the AT was fun for him.
Our TT trip finished at noon and by 3 PM I was dropping Michael off at the airport to get back home to Portland. It was odd, I didn’t get nervous about the whole backcountry idea until I dropped him off and left the airport. It must have been the realization that I was now completely alone, the status I’d keep for the next week+ and hadn’t had since June. It all set in, but I didn’t have much time to deal with nerves as I had to grocery shop, buy last gear items, pack, and finish some paperwork all before 7:30 AM the next morning when Mike and I would meet up for the ride to the trailhead.