When June arrives, I will begin walking south, starting in Maine, intent on finishing in Georgia — or put another way, ME to GA. MEGA is the term. If you go Northbound, it is sometimes shortened to GAME.
Southbound is no game. This is what the Appalachian Trail Conservancy says about going Southbound:
Maine has never been a popular place to start a thru-hike, and may never be. Katahdin is regarded as the most difficult mountain on the entire A.T. and the route through Maine is, in places, not so much a path as a climb or scramble over rocks and roots. It's no place for anyone who is inexperienced or out of shape to start a long-distance hike.
And again, another word of caution from the ATC:
Through 2017, fewer than 2,000 people had reported completion of the A.T. southbound.
Now I'm getting excited.
Right from the beginning, I will be jogging my leg's muscle memory and coaxing them back toward trail-mode again. I will need to reorient my mindset and bend my will toward accomplishing smaller, more immediate goals and leaving the prize of Georgia to the future.
In addition to my own fears, I am also coping with the fears of others. My uncle called me recently with the sole purpose of warning me about the thick masses of black flies and mosquitoes that lay seige to the Northeast in Spring. "It's no joke", he said. My brother gently informed me of "mud season" in Vermont. "Trust me," I'd respond, "I do not take any of these warnings lightly. I'm not laughing about it."
I'm grinning — just like I did when I turned to look up at the ice wall that was Forester Pass last June. Danger, excitement, fear, and still more excitement.
To all of those who are anxious on my behalf, I leave you with a line from Mary Oliver's poem Moments.
There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.