There have been several April Fools moments since last week, so that seemed appropriate. Heck, that's how our trip started off - with me playing a joke on ourselves.
We flew into Atlanta on 3/30. I'd done some research on the logistics before we left. Google told me there was an REI (outdoor retail store) right near the Amtrak Station. Our plan was to go from the airport to REI to pick up some white gas for the store before taking a train to Gainesville for the night.
We took the subway to the Amtrak/REI stop when we got to Atlanta. I set my phone to REI's address and we started walking the 1 mile that we had. As we kept walking and the area got more and more residential, we kept our faith that we would find an REI soon. My phone told us to turn onto a street that appeared to have only houses on it, but we kept our faith. We walked right up to a house with the exact address that was listed for Rei, Inc. That's when we lost our faith. Guess I should have used the REI website and not Google for locations. :) It was an interesting introduction to our adventure, anyway..
At Gainesville that night, we stayed with our couchsurfing hosts Eric and Jenny. They were the definition of southern hospitality. Not only did they have some really good stories from their recent 6 month journey in Europe, but they made us dinner - and cookies - and muffins - to boot! I couldn't stop staring at the spectacular photographs on their walls, and I was really surprised to learn that they were all pictures from their travels. Eric is very talented.
We were picked up in Gainesville by Hotrock, a former thru who have us our last bits of advice on the way to the approach trail. And then, we were off! We were happy as clams. Giddy, giggly clams.
We've made many a mile since we started off on April Fools' Day and are slowly transforming into thru-hikers (smelly, hungry, hardened hiking machines). Georgia weather has been mighty kind to us, as well as the hills and mountains.
My favorite moment on the trail so far came a few nights ago, when we stayed at Low Gap Shelter. That day I had had a tough time. I'd been hiking slowly and it was hot. Rachel was hiking ahead of me and got to the shelter before I did. We hadn't stayed at a shelter yet, especially since they tend to be noisy and crowded. That night though, when Rachel got to the shelter, she decided we should stay in it and claimed our spots. And a good thing she did, too.
A couple hours after sunset, the skies just opened up and let loose. For what seemed like several hours during the night, it rained buckets. Lightning was flashing around us and the thunder was as loud as I had ever heard it. The storm passed directly over us, and it was exhilarating to be outside - right underneath it! That's the beauty of a shelter - you can enjoy watching a storm, since it's only 3 walls and a roof. But you enjoy it while staying dry.
The skies have been sunny the whole trip except for the storm of doom and awesomeness. We've been hearing stories about bears stealing food, and have largely avoided the problem areas. Today we are at our second hostel of the trip. Freshly showered and laundered, I'm ready to go eat some ice cream! (and salad, and steak, and...)