Day Zero – The Approach

July 6th, 8:02pm – Springer Mountain Parking Lot

Around 6:20pm, Warren Doyle (Jupiter), David Horton, and I arrived at the parking lot just a mile from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, located on the summit of Springer Mountain. I did a shakeout run/hike up to the summit so I could see it while it was still light out and sign the trail register.

DH met me up there a few minutes later and shared a how he was feeling when he began his record attempt and gave me some last words of advice, and took a picture of me touching the first white blaze!

We are planning a midnight start, 12:00AM 7/7. I’m resting in the support vehicle. I think DH and Jupiter are more nervous than I am. There is much more pressure being support crew than the athlete, in my opinion. You have to navigate all these back roads, be in the right place at the right time, and have food, water, first aid, etc. ready and available. For them, I’ll be in and out in a flash; then begins another scramble for them to the next road crossing. All I have to do, in contrast, is follow the white blazes! I feel calm, knowing that we’ve done everything possible to prepare. This will by far be the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted to do. I think the “not knowing” of what’s going to be thrown at me is why I’m feeling okay about everything now. And because Jupiter and DH, as AT veterans and record holders, have a full understanding of what I’m about to do… that explains some of their nerves as well. Ignorance is bliss! As I write this, a steady rain is beginning. I’ll try to get some sleep now, before we begin.