I think, perhaps, I’ll go hiking today

So this is it. I’m at the Hiker’s Hostel in Dahlonega, GA. Already, I feel glad for the kindness of strangers and intrigued to see what kind of things I haven’t put enough thought into.

I wanted to document my expectations at the last chance before I start so I can look back later and see how ridiculous they all were. So, here are a few of those.

*I’m going to be hungry for 4.5 months. I think I could probably eat a half-gallon at the half way point (the half-gallon challenge)without a wink of difficulty.

*There are going to be a bunch of geardos. That’s my new word for people who are really into cutting edge gear. I have more of an “anything will do” mentality, but I’m sporting some serious goodies, thanks to backpackers magazine. So, gear talk, is probably something I need to get used to.

*I’m about to get my ass whooped! I walked up a tiny hill to the hostel today and actually said, “this is difficult” in a sad-but-true tone. But I’ve kicked my own bum before, and I know it’s something I can do.

*My positive attitude is going to be my saving grace, and when that starts to fail me, I know a few people I can call to help me tune back into it.

*I expect Virginia to be the hardest part psychologically speaking. After Kat leaves and I spend 30 days walking through the same state, I might wonder what the hell I’m doing out here.

*The men are going to outnumber us ladies 4 to 1. Or maybe more, and they are going to be stinky.

*For whatever reason, I think Northern New England, particularly the Green Mountains in VT, is going to be my favorite.

*The hammock is going to take the cake in the tent versus hammock dispute.

*This is going to be the greatest thing I’ve ever done!

Katherine Nolan :)

A recent and exciting development is that my good friend Katherine is going to be joining me for the first 3 weeks of the trek! I’m very excited to have her along. She’s the kind of friend you don’t worry about spending too much time with!  It’ll be hours of great conversation and hopefully the occasional outburst of quality tunes.

I feel lucky to have her along. It’ll be so refreshing to get used to this new voyage with one of those friends who reassures you that the world is full of extraordinary things! Plus she’s a remarkably talented writer and a fantastic photographer. So, I’m a lucky ducky to have her on board.

Today is her 24th birthday. Happy Birthday Katherine! May your days be as bright as you have made mine!

Mail Drops

After many hours of meticulous planning and preparing I have finally finished all the mail drops for the journey. Here is a list of all the places I will be stopping into post offices to pick up mail.

1. Fontana Dam, NC. 50 Fontana Dam Rd. Fontana Dam, NC 28733-6105. Arrival on or after Monday, April 12th.

2. Erwin, TN. 201 N Maine Ave Erwin, TN 37650-9998. Arrival on or after Saturday, April 23rd.

3. Atkins, VA. 5864 Lee Hwy Atkins, VA 24311-9998. Saturday, May 7th.

4. Daleville, VA. 1492 Roanoke Rd. Daleville, VA 24038-9998. Wednesday, May 17th.

5. Shipman, VA. Private Address, please call me for details. Thursday, May 24th

6. Harpers Ferry, WV. 1010 Washington St. Harpers Ferry, WV 25425-9998. Saturday, June 4th.

7. Port Clinton, PA. Private Address. Please call me for details. Wednesday, June 15th.

8. Vernon, NJ. 530 State Rt 515 Unit 13 Vernon, NJ 07462-9997. Thursday, June23rd.

9. Cheshire, MA. 214 Church St. Cheshire, MA 01225-9998. Wednesday, July 6th.

10. Glencliff, NH. 1385 NH Route 25 Unit 1 Glencliff, NH 03238-9998. Monday, July 18th.

11. Caratunk, ME. 172 Main St. Caratunk, ME 04925-9998. Monday, August 1st (Happy Birthday Mackenzie and Grandma!)

I would love to get letters or very small packages. But I will have a 5-8 pound box to pick up at each one of these places so please be careful not to send anything heavy or large. Address all letters to  General Delivery/A.T. Thru-hiker, Shayla Paradeis. That will allow the P.O. to hold them for 30 days or possibly longer.

Planning Myself Stupid

Tomorrow is March 1st. Whoa! As much as I look forward to taking those first steps I think I’ll just have to face the facts that I will never feel prepared. I’ve made a timeline, created dried food recipes and meals, hit the gym, hoarded some gear and money, printed out maps, charts, and itineraries, asked dozens of questions to former hikers, yada yada yada…. but of course, I still feel like there are things I should be doing to get ready for this every spare moment I’ve got. By and large, I’m in good shape, literally and metaphorically. And I could relax, if I was capable of it.

Some great things have happened to me already.

#1. Backpackers magazine is letting me be a gear tester! Something I never dreamed would actually happen. I’m thrilled. I’ll find out this week exactly what I’m getting, but regardless, I’m going to be sporting some gear that my broke ass had no business even touching.

#2. I found a hiking buddy! At least a part-timer anyway. And I wasn’t even looking for one. I just happened to start some friendly conversation with a regular couple at the bar I work behind and it turns out their daughter, Meg, is starting the very same endeavor, on the very same day. Weird, I know.

#3. I have a trail angel for the beginning and end of my hike. Starting in Georgia with my sweet cousin Jessy and her boyfriend Luke, who will not only take me to the trail head, but also hike alongside me for the first two days. Then, one of my closest friends, Allie, will meet me at Mt. Katahdin, to celebrate victory and show me some of the great sites of off-trail New England.

#4. I found a great place for Max (my feline pet, and best friend). My friend Royce will be helping me out immensely by taking care of him for the duration of my trip.

#5. Another one of my closest friends is going to be the best ground control that money can buy. Except she hasn’t asked for any money, which is nice. My friend Heidi, who happens to be one of the most impressive planner/organizers I’ve ever known, is going to send out all of my mail drops for me. She’s already been extremely helpful with planning out the details.

Basically, what this all adds up to, is that I’m an extremely lucky human being for having such support! And thanks! to all of my friends and family for the many ways that you have been truly awesome to me!