I arrived at Atlanta airport only to be taken into the back room for questioning. Apparently, it is not normal to hike the Appalachian Trail. Specially as I visited USA on previous occasions to hike the CDT and PCT. I guess they were just doing their job. Can’t let dodgy people like me into the United States.
It didn’t take them long to search my gear and find only quality lightweight hiking gear, oh and my bicycle. I bought that with me to be stored with my hiking buddy Crunchmaster and his family.
Atlanta airport was very efficient. Despite being pulled aside for questioning I was out of the airport within 30 minutes of landing. Very impressive. As a result of this efficiency I had to wait more than an hour for Crunchmaster to arrive to pick me up. His family have kindly offered to host me fir the firsts days as I get organised.
On my first afternoon I was able to visit REI and a grocery store and get all my gear sorted and ready for the trail. That left me with the next day free to play tourist in Crunchmaster’s home town of Chattanooga.
I’ve heard of Chattanooga. Haven’t we all? That song about the Choo Choo. Well, the following day we went to see the Chattanooga Choo Choo. It was sitting on track 29. The old passenger cars have been converted into hotel rooms. I’m sure all the trainspotters of the world would fall over with joy to stay in such a place. It looked quite flash and probably out of my budget.
Crunchmaster and I spent a couple more hours wandering the streets and went up to the top of Lookout Mountain, a famous ‘War of Independence’ fort and battleground. There were nice views over Chattanooga from the top. We made another short stop to visit Crunchmaster’s mother who kindly baked me some cookies, which I’m eating right now as I type this.
I stayed with Crunchmaster’s father and step mother in a lovely log cabin in the woods which they built themselves. I was treated to tasty home made meals and my own room with a super comfortable bed. It was so quiet at night, which is something I’m not used to.
I think the most dangerous animals on the Appalachian Trail are not the bears, nor the humans. I believe the most dangerous animal is the tick. Lyme disease and others are not something I want to encounter, so I treated all my clothes with permethrin. This should prevent them from getting on me, I hope, I’m also carrying deet repellent.
When sorting through my gear I meticulously weighed everything. 10kg (22lb) is my total weight including about 5 days food and 1 litre of water. Substantially less than most Appalachian trail hikers. Now I’m ready to go.
Prior to starting the trail I registered at the Parks Office at Amicalola falls. I am hiker number 1838 for the year, that doesn’t include those that haven’t registered. Now it’s time to go hiking.