We took the MARTA train to the North Springs stop where we made prior arrangements with the Hiker Hostel to be picked up. (I should say here that prior to our trip there was some concern about the MARTA trains because we heard they were sketchy and hard to navigate. Maybe it’s because we’re from Northeastern New Jersey and we’re used to riding confusing trains through sketchy areas, but we didn’t have any problems.)
While we were waiting for our ride we noticed a few other people with hiking gear. After that awkward phase of deciding whether or not to talk to a group of strangers. Everyone began to talk to each other.
There was Cambo. He had thru-hike the previous year and was hiking the Appalachian Trail for a few weeks to warm up for his Pacific Crest Trail hike.
There was Jim. A commercial diver and amateur to Road cyclist who was using the trail to transition into a new career.
There was Dustin and Veronica. A couple from Michigan.
There was Tyler and Logan. Brothers in their early twenties.
And there was my brother and I.
The van ride from the train station to the hostel is one I’ll never forget. The only thing I can compare it to is what I’ve seen in movies. Where a team of military guys are riding in an airplane just before being deployed into combat. Everyone lost in their own thoughts. Complete silence except for the sound of the plane.
Cambo, the only one who has done the trail before, tried to get everyone talking but to no avail. The nervous tension was palpable. Everyone had a line of questions and thoughts running through their head. Did I bring the right gear? Do I have enough food? Will I be up to the challenge? Holy crap, this is really happening!
The hiker hostel was a great place to start our Appalachian Trail experience. It was run by a husband-and-wife team. Being thru-hikers themselves they knew what we needed and had a great setup. My brother and I were assigned to the downstairs bunk room with several other hikers. One guy came in and I said “Hi how are you doing?” and was completely ignored. “ Well, that guys a jerk.” I thought and went on my way.
My brother and I decided to have dinner with Dustin and Veronica. While we were eating I noticed the rude guy off to the side. He was video calling his parents and making gestures. It was at that point I realized he wasn’t a jerk… he was deaf. I immediately took him out of the jerk category and put him in the amazing category. Hiking to trail is hard and it must be so much harder when you ability to communicate with others is greatly affected.
During our dinner with Dustin and Veronica I noticed they were wording some of their questions strangely. We got to a point in the conversation when my brother and I were talking about our hammocks and Dustin said ” Um… Do you guys share a hammock?”. My brother and I looked at each other with a sudden understanding. ” No, We’re brothers not lovers!” Jonathan said quickly