Monday: 12.9 miles / 20.8 km

“Are you two going all the way?”

“Well, we’re married so… that’s really none of your business, my friend.”

The Trail is social. Camaraderie at the shelters — even along the trail with 27 pounds strapped to your back — people open up, crack jokes, ask questions. The intimacy creates a warmth much needed while spending days outdoors.

We launched from Stover Creek Monday morning headed for Gooch Mountain Shelter – the first official day on the AT.

The sun didn’t join us, but I took my long johns off before noon. K2 hikes in shorts and tee shirts as a rule.

Although the overall elevation dropped 931′, a few big Georgia hills showed me what the Top of Georgia is all about.

We came up Hawk Mountain, then Sassafras, then Justus – three hills close together in less than seven miles.

Do you know where you are?

You’re in the jungle, baby!

Between Justus Creek and Blackwell Creek I napped while hiking. Seriously. I had to wake up to fjord Blackwell.

As the tent sites around Gooch Mountain Shelter came into view, I began to sing Angel from Montgomery, my voice wavering as the aching in my body turned to ennui. When I dropped my pack I could barely raise my arms.

Our good news, “we beat the rain” met the bad news of the hikers jammed into the shelter: “no tent sites left.” Luckily we snuggled our 3-man Big Agnes next to Tyler’s tent. Tyler had attempted once before and was thinking this night might be his last on the trail.

Don’t quit on a bad day.

The rain held off until after dinner and tea. The rain on our tent gave me the best night of sleep thus far on the trail.

This post was updated to reflect proper mileage. Muscle exhaustion and forest dampness combine to lay a fog over my memory.

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