I’m sitting at Top of Georgia hostel today taking what is known as a “zero” in hiker language. It’s a day off, in this instance, strategically taken to rest up & avoid overnighting outdoors in thunderstorm conditions. This is my eighth day on the trail and the day I accepted my trail name, Scavenger.
To those who know me, I bet you will have had an ironic chuckle reading that. In my adult life, I’ve been very frugal and particularly adamant about reducing food waste. No shame in leftovers! Well.. There’s plenty of abandoned trail mix out here and people, particularly a Mainer named Moonshine who dubbed it on me, noticed my penchant for gathering off others.
I’ve been really big on others’ food more so than most others here because of my unique diet, a hard focus on meal replacement mixes from 100% Food and no stove. It’s given me excellent strength and health but boy is it monotonous eating it 10+ times in a row. Scavenging off others is mutually beneficial: I get variance in my diet, they drop food weight quicker and get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
Pretty much everyone here at the start has been getting too much food and has happily ditched extras. There’s a heavy belief in karma among hikers. Thus, I accept this name with honor and hope to do my best to continue preventing waste, saving money and filling a vital role in the hiker food chain.
The actual hiking has been a daily challenge, but overall fun due to the frequency of random encounters and overall sense of wonder the woods bring. Additionally, an opportunity to socialize presents itself daily at camp and I have befriended new people from all over. There’s a wide diversity among age groups, genders and walks of life, but racially the makeup is heavily Caucasian, over 95% so. I’m surprised at that as a New Yorker.
In my first week, I averaged 11 miles a day. I will need to pick it up a bit more to finish in time, and I have no doubts in myself; the big mile days will come. I have been limiting myself in this start to reduce injury as multiple folks have advised. Tomorrow, I will push on and finish the Georgia section of the AT; the Great Smoky Mountains National Park looms ahead.