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Saturday, April 14, 2012

12 hours to go!

Just the other day, I was talking with someone about how much our built environment was designed for motorists rather than pedestrians.  We were discussing how our pace of life is just a few miles per hour short of that in Fahrenheit 451.  Our conversation had reminded me of an incident that occurred when I was in Vernon, NJ, last summer.  I had come into town earlier in the afternoon and left my pack at the hostel, and I was walking around the town doing errands.  I went into a fast-food restaurant and asked for directions to the supermarket.  The woman behind the counter told me that it was "right next door."  I left the restaurant and started walking...and reached the grocery store ten minutes later.

I had the same sort of experience today, while we were driving to Dahlonega, GA.  We crossed the AT near Suches.  (We actually got out and did touristy things, like take photos and gaze out at the mountains, but I don't want to spoil the momentum by giving details.)  We got excited, knowing we were close to our destination; however, I won't return to the intersection until Tuesday morning.  I'm not necessarily trying to romanticize the slow-paced life--I'm the first to advocate high-speed trains--but the idea of slowing down a bit, of being a Clarisse, intrigues me sometimes.  Okay, I'll admit it: Often.

Anyway, we are now in a hotel in Dahlonega, GA, 19 miles from Amicalola Falls State Park and the start of the approach trail to the AT.  (The 7.8-mi approach trail is the customary beginning to one's AT journey.  Technically, I will only hike 0.2 mi on the actual AT tomorrow.)  We took a bunch of state roads getting here, and the scenery was just beautiful.  North Carolina and northern Georgia are dramatically more phenologically-advanced than Kentucky is; it looks as if it's summertime!

We went out for dinner--a "last supper" of sorts--in charming Dahlonega tonight.  I had a salad, garlic bread, and pasta, thinking all the while how much I missed fresh veggies and bread last summer.  The goal of packing food for backpacking is to maximize the weight-to-calories ratio.  The ideal is 1 oz. to 100 kc; anything significantly less efficient rarely gets packed.  The water content of fresh veggies rules them out, and most bread doesn't hold up well to being stuffed in a backpack.

Now, we're in the hotel and getting ready for bed.  I'm actually copying a list of inspirational quotes to share with the other hikers.  On the Appalachian Trail, the primary mode of communication (besides word-of-mouth) is a series of trail journals.  These wire-bound notebooks and composition books are scattered in the shelters that pepper the trail.  In each, hikers note their comings and goings, as well as their thoughts about the day or about life in general.  Last year, I just wrote a short summary of my day in each log before signing it.  This year, I'm planning to include a Wordle (or "Frame Game") and an inspirational quote with every entry.  (I'm also planning to sign with brightly-colored ink, but that's another story...)

So, in closing, here's one you've probably heard dozens of times before but that seems quite pertinent tonight:

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Does the journey of two thousand miles begin with two steps?

Happy trails!
Rainbow Dash

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