A HOT SHOWER AND AN ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET may be some of the greatest things in life for a thru-hiker.
After six days and 69.6 miles on the Appalachian Trail, those two were certainly at the top of my priority list when I rolled into Hiawassee, Georgia, for my first stay in a hotel.
I'll be pushing into North Carolina on Sunday (April 12), which is a way faster pace than I anticipated. So far, I'm in good spirits and have avoided any blisters. The only concerns I have are a completely numb toe and rapid weight loss. The toe, I've heard, is semi-normal, but I've already dropped a few pounds and my thin frame doesn't have too much left to spare. My hiker appetite is just starting to kick in, so I'll be attempting to make up for what I've lost so far.
Georgia has been a mix of rain, cold, hot, fog, and sunshine—basically every weather type imaginable. The people along the way have been so nice and interesting to talk to. The companionship certainly makes the miles easier. I don't have a trail name yet, having dodged a few ill-fated attempts to dub me some pretty absurd things, but I suspect I'll have one shortly. (Editor's note: Jonathan has a thick, Louisiana accent, so we can only imagine how this will turn out.)
I'll be leaving Georgia with a full belly and an appreciation for the mountains on the southern end of the AT. Also, I've learned that hitch-hiking isn't all that scary.
Jonathan Olivier is a contributor to BACKPACKER. He began his attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in April. Find his updates—before, during, and after—here or at backpacker.com/JonathansAThike.