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Day Zero

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.

Chattanooga choo choo


The Chattanooga Choo Choo on track 29

chattanooga choo choochattanooga


The view of Chattanooga from Lookout Mountain


Trina, Tom and Crunchmaster outside the cabin

appalachian trail approach trail

appalachian approach trail

The start of the approach trail to the Appalachian Trail. I didn’t hike it.


Bobcat at the ranger station

You might be interested in:

The Complete Pacific Great Trail Guide
The Complete Continental Divide Trail Guide
The Complete Appalachian Trail Guide
Lightweight Hiking Gear List


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24 Responses

  1. Heather

    So glad this day is finally here! I have been counting down the days until your newest journey begins. That lovely log cabin in the woods would be the retirement home of my dreams ~ a beautiful home with space for a large garden and plenty of trails to hike. Best of luck to you on your hike!

    • BikeHikeSafari

      They have a nice vegetable garden and lots of nature nearby, there’s a big outdoor community in Tennessee.

  2. Speedbump

    Looks like you have perfect weather! Hope it continues. I wish I was climbing those stairs too.
    How are you doing your resupply? Mailing to yourself? Do you plan on hiking straight through the Smokies or opting for a resupply half way through?

    • BikeHikeSafari

      I’m making things up as I go, not much planning for this hike. I’ll buy food as I go at the local stores. I’m not to fussy about what I eat, not sure about the Smokies, I’ll decide when I get closer.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      I think you might be into something. I have no razor blades with me. Might be good luck not to shave.

  3. SoCalMike

    Here we go, Brad – another adventure! I guess I’m living vicariously through your Triple Crown Quest. Love it.

    Be safe out there, mate. Hope you enjoy it.

    Mike M, Riverside, CA

  4. Mary Alice Davis

    I’d love to send you another meal, especially if I can do so without going through your Aussie account (hate the exchange rate!). Do you have a mail drop I can send it to somewhere along the trail? Cheers mate.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Yes Mary, thank you. Send me a private message through the contact me page (so it is private) and I’ll send you an address and ETA for a location. Thank you so much.

  5. Andi

    Can’t believe that they stopped you in the Atlanta Airport — you were “Dapper Brad” on arrival!! Good thing you didn’t come off the airplane just after your CDT adventure with the long hair and beard!!
    How wonderful to have the local contacts to rest up with and visit before your next grand adventure — hiker families are the BEST!! Safe travels!

    • BikeHikeSafari

      They were just doing their job, they realised quickly I was for real and able to find my trip. Yeah a good idea I didn’t have the CDT look!

  6. brewermd

    Yes! Another adventure to follow along with! I started with you on the PCT and have always loved your stories, excited for more.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Thank you for the kind words, I’m going to really enjoy the AT.

  7. Anne

    YEY! Have a nice start and looking forward to reading your AT blog 🙂 Cheers! 😀

  8. Bob Jaworski

    Wishing you well on your hike with safe travels always, and remarkable memories. Look forward to your posts of the hike and journey.

  9. AR

    Since I started treating my clothes with permethrin, the only place I’ve seen a tick is on someone else.

    Good luck on your hike.

  10. Nomadic Pawprints

    Looking forward to seeing you back on the trail. Have fun and look forward to reading the adventure to Katahdin as much as I did the PCT and CDT.


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