In my last update, T-Minus 30-Days to My Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike, I talked about how I am getting from Los Angeles, California to Atlanta, Georgia. Getting to Atlanta is only a portion of getting to the Appalachian Trail trailhead, as there are 85-miles from the airport to the trailhead. But luckily, I have options.
A great source of information about getting to Amicalola Falls State Park is put together by Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. They’ve published a list of different ways to get from several locations in the Atlanta area to the trailhead. Their webpage, Directions, Shuttles, & Parking, provides a wealth of information on how to get to the trailhead. One option not mentioned on their website is the possibility of using rideshare as an option to reach the trailhead.
One of the drawbacks to taking public transportation are the rules and regulations about what you can and can’t take with you. Since I am flying into Atlanta, that means I won’t have fuel for my backpacking stove. There are several ways to fix this problem; most shuttle services offer fuel for sale, or there are many places between the airport and the trailhead to buy it. Since I am getting into Atlanta midafternoon, I have opted to pick up fuel at an REI on the way to the trailhead.
Getting to REI from the Atlanta Airport to buy fuel is one of the easiest parts of my trip. From the airport, I’ll take the MARTA Red Line from the airport station to Sandy Springs Station which is a stop a few blocks from the REI store. This also puts me significantly closer to Amicalola Falls State Park and hence makes getting to the trailhead less expensive. One constant you’ll notice is my always going to the least expensive option; it’s not that I’m cheap, but I have limited funds, so I will always go with the least expensive option.
Time always seems to be a limiting factor in life. My flight into Atlanta gets in midafternoon, it’s an hour train ride to the REI, so by the time I finish at the REI store it will be early evening. While there is a shelter at Amicalola for thru-hikers, there’s no guarantee there will be space available in it. Because of the late time of day, I have opted to instead spend my first night in a hotel in Roswell, GA. Staying in a hotel will give me one last night in a bed, a nice hot shower in the morning, and time to recheck my backpack to make sure I have everything I need. Better to discover any missing items before getting to the trailhead.
The next morning, after a nice hot shower and breakfast, I’m planning to take an Uber to the trailhead. Once at Amicalola State Park, I’ll check in, get my backpack’s hang tag, take the obligatory selfie at the trailhead, and start my journey. While a thru-hike starts with that first step on the trail, there are many steps needed before you get to take that step. Once I start down the trail, all I can do is hope all the planning steps play out as that will make the difference between a successful thru-hike or not.
I’ll admit that I am nervous, but I am reminded of a quote I read once:
If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf