January 1, 2008 - February 16, 2008

January 18, 2008

It's been really hard writing this very first journal entry. In some way, I feel as if it is the most important entry; the one that will capture your interest and keep you coming back to this site to follow us and encourage us to push northward. But how am I supposed to write such a captivating entry when I am not yet on the trail? Am I supposed to interest you with my everyday life? I might be wrong, but I have a hard time believing you would be interested in this. It's not that my life is excessively boring. In fact, just this morning, something out of the ordinary happened. The biggest cat I have ever seen ran across the road in front of me as I walked to the bus stop (our apartment complex is known for having a large population of stray cats). Once it reached the other side of the road it stopped, turned around, and stared me down. This cat was so big it could easily have passed as a tiger cub. I was even a little concerned that it was going to maul me to death and...

Alright, so my life is pretty boring, but this doesn't mean I don't like it. I actually like my life a lot. My wife is amazing, my job is the job that everyone dreams of having, and I live in a great town. So why am I planning on walking away from it all in one month? There certainly are some things which I won't miss. I won't miss the smell. It's the smell that we no longer realize we are smelling. It's the car exhaust and factory fumes. It's the smell of molten asphalt mixed with dust emanating from every one of the two thousand construction sites in Chapel Hill. It's the smell of a city. I also won't miss seeing all the trash. Just today, I counted ten bottles, one long strand of packaging tape, four half-disintegrated cardboard boxes, a shattered top to some large plastic storage container, one newspaper, and other random bits and pieces of trash just between the bus stop and my apartment. I know I will encounter trash along the trail, but there will be a lot less than here. It will be nice being in a place that has not yet been completely destroyed by human presence. Lastly, I won't miss the complexity of my current life. I've found myself to be addicted to technology (as I think most people are today). I enjoy using my laptop and currently can't imagine life without the internet, but something just seems to be missing. I want to experience life without it and slow down a little. The high-speed world is just getting too fast for my liking and I want to take a break from it for a while.

So off to the trail we go. We've purchased nearly all of our gear and have set a date. We will be leaving for Georgia via Amtrak on the night of the 16th and the hike will begin the next morning. Wish us luck! Oh, and if I see that cat again I will definitely take a picture.

-- Joshua

January 24, 2008

After an immeasurable amount of procrastination, I am at last sitting down to write my first journal entry. Luckily, Josh went ahead and wrote one before me, so I don't have to fret over being captivating.

I'll add to his thoughts that aside from my appreciation of nature and a desire to take 6 months off to embrace the simplicity it offers, I am in many ways looking forward to having a "boring" life on the trail. On one hand it seems like a grand adventure, and on the other hand it means solitude and challenges of a different sort than I am used to. I am eagerly anticipating the change of pace, and I feel good about the upcoming future. Admittedly, at this point I think Josh and I are both growing a little nervous, but I believe it's a beneficial sort of nervous excitement... the kind that comes before any major life change and makes you appreciate all that's about to come.

We'll be hiking towards Springer Mountain in Georgia (via the approach trail) in 23 days. Most hikers begin mid to late March, but our desire to spend some time hiking in the snow and get going before the trail is overcrowded led us to chose February 17 as our start date. We're more-or-less all packed and ready to go. Fully loaded with food and water, our packs weigh 33lbs and 53lbs. Much heavier than I'd hoped for, but the winter gear really adds up. The weight is manageable though, and it'll be nice to know that it'll only get lighter as we trek northward.

It's been fun planning to hike the Appalachian Trail together for the past 3 years. We wanted to hike the trail separately before we even met, so it's been nice to have someone to share the dream with and mold it into a reality.

-- Amanda

February 10, 2008

Yesterday was my last day at work. I have really enjoyed spending the last few months working at REI--largely due to the amazing people that I work with--and my last day at work was no exception. A wonderful coworker named Angela made me the most gorgeous cake (picture posted under "Photos")... it was one of the most thoughtful things that anyone has done for me. The triple-layer cake was enormous too, so everyone at work was able to share in the celebration. I cannot even begin to imagine how much time and effort went into the flawless dessert. Note that the rocky peak in the center of the cake is Katahdin:) I should also say that I was given a lovely card as well... thanks to everyone that signed it. It meant a lot to me.

Other happenings: we switched tents, and dropped 3.5 lbs in doing so. Together Josh and I also shed 15 inches of hair. As soon as we sell our car, we'll be officially ready to go.

In less than a week we'll be in Georgia!

-- Amanda

February 16, 2008

We're off on a midnight train to Georgia tonight!

"L.A. proved too much for the man,
So he's leavin' the life he's come to know,
He said he's goin' back to find
Ooh, what's left of his world,
The world he left behind
Not so long ago.
He's leaving on that midnight train to Georgia,
And he's goin' back
To a simpler place and time.
And I'll be with him
On that midnight train to Georgia..."

-- Amanda