I flew into Atlanta today and got picked up by Pilgrim, a hiker that does shuttles in the area. I had gotten his contact info from Wing-Heart at the Northern Ruck in January. (Thanks, Wing-Heart!) Pilgrim gave me all kinds of good advice on the way down, he had already picked up fuel for me, we stopped at McDonald’s for a quick, high calorie dinner (thanks, Aunt Theresa!), and we got into the park just as it stopped raining hard. I registered at the visitor center as hiker #506 and weighed my pack – 30 lbs with too much food and a little water, not bad! Pilgrim came up to the shelter with me to make sure I had everything before saying goodbye too. I definitely recommend him as a shuttle driver. There isn’t much daylight left and the next shelter up the approach trail is 7.3 miles away so I am staying at the Max Epperson shelter right behind the visitor center. Only one other hiker, Ewok, is here so far but there’s still time for more to arrive before dark. The shelter is completely enclosed, although one wall is wire mesh, so I don’t have to hang my bag and with all the room inside, I don’t have to set up my tent either, which means I don’t have to carry a wet and heavy tent tomorrow. Real bathrooms and showers are available. Seems like a nice park. I won’t actually be on the AT until tomorrow afternoon but I am looking forward to it!

I had a nice but hectic weekend, seeing people one last time to say goodbye and getting ready, putting last minute things in storage, and packing away a few things at my parents’ house. My family and friends are very supportive of my hike. My father was not particularly supportive at first, and would still rather I not be out here, but yesterday he gave me a St. Christopher medal (patron saint of travelers) that he got blessed by a priest. He also gave the rest of the family blessing coins with strict instructions to keep them in their pockets until I get home. My cousins were at my last family dinner last night, a delicious corned beef and cabbage made by my mother (thanks, Momma!), so they got coins too and Bear let me know he even moved it to his pajama pocket last night. So I have a few little luck charms with me and carried for me by others (thanks, Dad!).

It’s weird to be stopped so early for the night and not be at all tired because I did absolutely no hiking today, but hopefully it will help me get an early start tomorrow. Should be good weather in the morning.

Please note that you can subscribe to my blog via email in the sidebar, and links to rss feeds are there too. I will be taking lots of photos with my nice camera but the ones showing up here will generally be from my phone so you’ll have to wait to see the nice ones until I can offload them onto a computer.

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