Well folks, there is something cringeworthy about reading your own past writing, especially from 3-5 years ago in a blog titled “Smiling with Sarah”. But whatever, I’m going to temporarily bring this blog back and I’m going to own the title 😁.
I used to really enjoy writing about flight attending when I first started, it was new and exciting and I loved that sometimes acquaintances would read my entries and reach out with questions about being a flight attendant, which I still welcome and would love to answer! It also helped give me a sense of purpose in a job where I have a hard time finding one sometimes. This time, I’m writing because I realized that it would be nice to update friends and family all at once on my most recent endeavor for a month or pso when I’m often out of cell service.
The Appalachian Trail, or AT as it’s often referred, is a fascination to many. It’s been an obsession of mine for quite some time that I kept relatively to myself, and the honest to goodness reason was because I was afraid of failure. I was so afraid of being talked out of it, or failing and coming home and having to explain myself, already knowing the statistic that only 25 percent of people who set out to thru-hike the whole trail actually finish it. I’m not even thru hiking because that would probably entail quitting my job, which I don’t want to do. I decided now or never, and I’m hoping to complete about 7 weeks on the trail, more this summer if I can. This whole thing has become much more than the original obsession with the AT. It turned into a “now or never” mentality where there became no excuse for me not to go for a goal, especially if that meant not waiting for a chance to have the time to do a 6 month thru hike that might never come. Section hiking it is.
Well, after being engulfed in everything that has taken place from the prep work to getting myself to the trail to taking actual steps on the trail, I can tell you I have no shame in owning the goal now. Covering a couple months on the trail is the real goal and if I fall short it will be known. What it took to reach this point has suddenly and drastically taken over my fear of the possibility of looking like I bit off more than I could chew. The real challenge to overcome is simply to not keep it to myself.
So, in a nutshell here’s what I have to say about the trail before this particular entry reaches the threshold of too long. The amount of mental energy that went into second guessing my gear and packing choices in the days leading up to leaving was to the point of ridiculous. Getting to the trail took a unique spin when I reached out to an old DCI friend, bass 2 at Colts ‘10 to ask about the area and next thing you know I had a ride from the airport in Atlanta (after I finally got on a flight, thanks Delta) and a place to stay for two nights. HUGE shoutout to Shawn Rochester. Then there was the friendly lyft driver who took me to Amicalola who hadn’t heard of the trail before and therefore was wary of dropping me off there alone. Then the first 3 days of the trail happened, in which everything that the trail is came out in full force. Beautiful sights, tough climbs, crowded campsites, unexpectedly uncrowded campsites, perfect weather, rain, new friends, but most of all, the realization that it’s true that no matter how prepared you are, the trail WILL throw a curveball and it will be tough.
“Had your food all figured out and made a valiant effort to keep pack weight down? Cool. Got in shape first and muscles and feet are doing good? Great. It rained and you kept your stuff dry? Check. Oh then I know what you need, a tooth problem completely unrelated to the trail!”.. says the trail.
Two weeks ago I got hit in the front teeth with my own cell phone, story only upon request. There was a little lingering pain but nothing much, then like clockwork within a day of starting the trail my tooth was in bad pain with every sip of water and turning more grey/purple by the day. This is when the mistakes and lessons started. Split a shuttle with another hiker needing to get off trail and tried to find a dentist in a small town on a Saturday. Turns out dentists aren’t open in small towns on weekends. With bad weather looming, I reached a point where I couldn’t get back on trail that same day and make it to shelter in time and therefore found myself stuck for the weekend, splitting a motel room with another hiker and finding out the hard way that nearly everything is closed on Sundays in small town Georgia, and don’t even dare try to find a somewhere to purchase a beer on this day of the week. Laundry got taken care of 2 days sooner than expected, yet here I sit watching stormclouds pass, crossing my fingers someone her can fix my tooth and I can get hiking again while also realizing that this scenario IS the challenge of the trail. It’s not just the hiking, it’s whatever random non trail scenarios get thrown at you, and having to deal with them while being on the trail. That’s the challenge of the trail, and one I didn’t grasp the concept of until being in this moment dealing with this. Until my next entry where I hope to detail the actual gear, hiking, and nice people I’ve met, cheers to 3 nights in the Georgia mountains and purple teeth. ✌️