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© 2013 Linsen. All rights reserved. 20130426-131133.jpg

The First Steps

It was with a lump in my throat that I waved goodbye to Pieter and Sureta and walked off, alone, to start the long road to Maine. When I signed yhe initial register, I was thru-hiker number 1043 for the year. I was excited, but also real nervous and slightly overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it all.

The 8 mile approach trail went by quickly, and having set off around 11:30 I reached the official start of the AT around 15:00. From there it was a rainy afternoon walk to the first shelter I stayed in, which was already quite full when I arrived.

Day 2 had lovely sunny weather, although despite the glorious hiking I felt pretty homesick – really small and far from everything. An early camp, some reading and befriending one ‘Buffalo Joe’ cheered me up though.

Today (day 3), Joe and I took a morning walk to Neel Gap, where we’re taking the rest of the day off for recovery. I’m generally feeling in good shape, but after two 16 mile days, and another 7 miles this morning, I can tell my body needs a bit of a rest. I expect to be averaging 20 miles plus within a week or two.

The route is great, with exquisite views. And I keep feeling like I’m walking through the set of Moonrise Kingdom.

Amicalola Falls, where the approach trail starts.

A typical view.

The start of the trail.

A glorious sunrise (and, of course, a selfie :-)

Buffalo Joe


  1. Liehann
    Posted 26 Apr ’13 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    We had a ~17 mile hike around Big Sur on Tuesday. I’m very jealous you’re doing this every day. :-)

    Have you done a kit write up? I would find it quite interesting what you ended up keeping and what your final pack weight is.

    • Linsen
      Posted 26 Apr ’13 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Good idea – I’ll do a pack writeup in a week or so at my next town stop. When I started it was 29lb, food and water included. I have way too much food though – suspect my base weight’s around 14lb or so.

  2. Pam
    Posted 26 Apr ’13 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Well done Linsen – we are walking with you in thought. In life we see a horizon, advance towards it only to find another horizon and then another. What would we do if we reached the end? Perhaps there is no end. Perhaps there is only now – the glorious, wondrous, magical now which will get you walking effortlessly through every day.

    • Linsen
      Posted 26 Apr ’13 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      Very well put Pam! While I know that in my head, I think it’ll still be a while before my body really gets it :-)

  3. Linda
    Posted 27 Apr ’13 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Lieb has been tracking your spot on an almost leafless trail. It is so good to see the trees covered in leaves with the beautiful views framed by foliage. I cant believe I am seeing you ‘in’ the photographs that I have looked at in the books on the AT. The start of the approach at the Amicalola Falls is awe-inspiring. I sincerely hope you see a bear much, much further away than the puffadder that appeared in our braai-area yesterday!

  4. Lieb Loots
    Posted 27 Apr ’13 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    It is very exciting. I followed you every ‘Spot track position’ along the way. I could work out where you slept at night and even found photographs of it. The same with the night at Neels Gap. Please keep the Spot tracker on – it is really great being able to share your journey in that way. And a journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening it is indeed. Experience every moment and every emotion of it as fully as you can.

  5. Johan
    Posted 27 Apr ’13 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Yes! That’s what it reminded me of! I was looking at all the pictures and I knew I’d seen that scenery somewhere, but I didn’t quite make the connection with Moonrise Kingdom until you mentioned it at the end. And you’re right – it does look very much like it, which is to say, fantastically beautiful.

    Linsen, it looks amazing, and right now I’m vacillating rapidly between awe and envy. I’ll email soon :-)

  6. Ilse
    Posted 27 Apr ’13 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Linsen, glad to see your progress – we’re tracking/stalking you everyday ;)

  7. Posted 28 Apr ’13 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    I have done hikes as young teen with my parents across Ceres/Tulbach mountains, and while in High School with a group we did the Outeniqua trail. what I o recall is going over one and another peak and yet another. Backpack heavy. feet warming, tired, sweat, water, chocolates, mountain water. Endless to reach the top, and then finally glorious to see the views from up there. Weather was important to keep spirits, stamina and willpower at its peak. Later from the top… Then sometimes tough to take the trip down valleys, knowing you’re heading for a camp somewhere, to rest, but also knowing we still have days of doing more of the same. The end was the real joy… WE did it! Quite a high, I remember.
    It’s long ago…
    Dear Linsen, and not in anyway close to your scale of doing things in life, and I feel enormously proud of you, reading your daily updates, your honesty, your incredible spirit. I honor you in this. Know that I would hang flags for you – flags symbolizing gratitude for life in all its glory every moment, and hope for every next step you will take.
    Just one step at a time… Your feet will get you there!

    Much love, Irize

  8. barbara gorgens
    Posted 28 Apr ’13 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Linsen,
    So good to hear that you are enjoying yourself. I am with you in spirit every step of the way. What is your trail name?
    Lots of love

  9. Marion
    Posted 29 Apr ’13 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Bonjour Linsen,

    Quelle formidable aventure Linsen! Je vais suivre avec attention toutes tes histoires. Je te souhaite beaucoup de bonheur au cours de ton périple!


  10. Suzaan
    Posted 29 Apr ’13 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    As dit nie overwhelming gevoel het nie, sou dit waarskynlik nie die moeitewerd gewees het nie. Dink baie aan jou, sterkte!

  11. Anso Adie
    Posted 1 May ’13 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    A step, a mile a day at a time will get you there:) Fantastic times ahead, enjoy. We there with you when the grass is golden and the wind talks in the trees. We all watching your eppic journey from afar, the Adie’s.

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