Written by: Emily Ginger
Wow! I had just about the craziest departure I could have ever imagined. I left Chicago on a pretty bad foot. Although I have been anticipating and planning for my departure, there's always something that comes up for which I am unprepared.
The day before I left I was standing up in my best friend's wedding, and since I can't do my own hair (beyond brushing it) I was on my way to my hair appointment when I crashed the car I was driving into the barrier of the expressway--my car spun around in circles and the airbag inflated. As the car was spinning out of control all I could think was "I'm going to wake up in a hospital bed." Miraculously I emerged from the totaled car with nothing more than a few bruises and the scariest experience of y life.
Needing to be there for my friend on her wedding day, I had no time to process my "near death" experience. Still shaken up I perseverd through the wedding and made the best of the day. The following morning (my departure day) my father wouldn't even speak to me or look in my direction because it was his car that I had totaled. Stress from my father's anger with me, and all the loose ends I left for myself to tie up before leaving town, resulted in an entire day of tears. I thought about delaying my flight but I pushed myself to make ends meet and catch my flight to Jersey.
Whew! I made it--the worst was over. Little did I know that I would spend 2 days in Jersey running around getting no more than 4 hours of sleep each night. We left Jersey at 2:40am on Monday night and I stayed up through the night in a delirious state of mind to assist Jay in staying awake as he drove us to North Carolina. I can't remember ever being so tired in my life. We finally arrived in Franklin, NC where we parked the car and met up with "Survivor Dave," who shuttles hikers around the Southern end of the Appalachian Trail.
We were in the car with Survivor Dave for 2 hours as he drove us to our starting point on Springer Mountain in Georgia. Survivor Dave was a plethora of information, answering any and all of our questions and settling any fears that we had left before being "out there." We also still had a resupply box with us in the car on our way up the mountain. We didn't want to ship it since the cost would have easily been $60 (week's worth of food for 4 people). So we decided to drop the box in the woods about 67 miles into the trail, and cover it with plastic, leaves, and sticks. It didn't occur to me that we were just leaving a luxurious feast for bears to find and enjoy. We won't know the fate of that box for another few days. I'm praying it's still there.
As we approached Spring Mountain on a bumpy, slippery, dirt road, while blasting Survivor Dave's mix of 80's hard classic rock, it hit me--I'm here, and I can't turn back. I have planned for this for 2 years and tried to mentally prepare myself as best as I could but it's nothing like when you are actually there--no turning back!!!! Survivor Dave dropped us off and pointed us in the right direction. We hiked .9 miles up to the top of Spring Mountain where we planned to pitch our tents, but just as we had staked out an area to set up camp, we felt a drop of rain and fled to the nearby shelter. It started raining as soon as we got to the top of Springer Mountain, and it hasn't stopped raining since.
After 4 days of hiking in the rain and wearing cold, wet gear we've checked into a cabin to dry out clothes and gear...looking forward to finding out whether or not our "resupply" box of food is still there or if the bears went to town on it.