The day before I left, Hiker Hostel called to let me know they’d pick me up at 1pm from the North Springs MARTA station. They kindly warned me the station had no amenities, so I dozed intermittently by baggage claim for a few hours before catching the train. There were three other people also meeting the shuttle: Ali, a thru-hiker from Chicago, and Kathy and Bobby, two sisters doing a section hike.
Derek, our shuttle driver, showed up right on time and took us to Wal-Mart. I honestly don’t think I’ve been inside one of those since October 2001.
The only thing I had to pick up was a mini Bic lighter, which didn’t take long to find, so I spent a few minutes browsing the aisles to see if I could find some Georgia beer. One of my goals for this trip was to try to drink as many different local brews as possible as I passed through each state. Unfortunately the closest beer option I found was this:
Sorry, 28 proof malt substitute beer from North Carolina isn’t going to cut it, even if it does taste like delicious apple pie. Whatever, Wal-Mart. You let me down.
I did, however, spend a little money at the Subway franchise located right inside the entrance. I am generally not a fan of their food, not since the year my grandmother ordered a six foot party sub for Christmas Eve and made me pick it up in her car, but I couldn’t manage to angle it in such a way that it fit properly, so I had to drive through town with a foot and a half of sandwich hanging out the window. (More importantly, that sandwich was disgusting. Never buy a six foot party sub. Never.)
But Derek reminded us all before we went inside that Hiker Hostel only serves breakfast, so dinner options were either buy some raw ingredients to cook in the basement kitchen of the hostel, order a pizza to be delivered from Papa John’s, or Eat Fresh.
I decided a sandwich would probably be the better option considering my stomach was already a little queasy from nerves. Plus, I’d been re-watching all five seasons of Community through Hulu+ while endlessly organizing and re-organizing my hiking gear in the weeks leading up to my departure, so I was feeling kindly disposed to the chain. I ended up with a six-inch spicy italian on garlic bread with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, onions and banana peppers with sweet onion sauce and three chocolate chip cookies. It was not the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, so there you go.
After everyone finished shopping, it was finally off to the hostel.
I’ve gotta say, I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels in a lot of countries, and this was easily one of the nicest. I thought perhaps Ali, Kathy, Bobby and I would end up in the same room, but Ali got a bed in a room on the first floor, while Kathy and Bobby had reserved a private room. I was assigned a bottom bunk in a four-bed room on the second floor. Check out those privacy curtains!
My three bunkmates were:
- Pop-C from Arizona, a retired Forest Service employee who hiked the Arizona National Scenic Trail last year and is only planning to go as far as Pearisburg VA;
- Ted, a doctor from Atlanta; and
- his friend Tim, also a doctor from Atlanta.
Pop-C had arrived that morning, but Ted and Tim showed up yesterday and already had one day of hiking under their belt. Tim just started a nine day vacation and planned to hike the entire length of the trail through Georgia, and Ted agreed to join him for the weekend.
But it turns out Tim didn’t enjoy hiking as much as he thought he would, so that night he bought a plane ticket to Cancun. He was REALLY excited about this change of plans.