We all enjoyed a "last supper" at Monterey's, our favorite Mexican restaurant near our house, since he won;t be eating hot food for a while. He decided not to bring a stove. Then after a 3 hour drive, we reached the entrance, where he weighed his pack and signed in as thru-hiker no #801 at the very nice visitor's center. So that means over 800 thru-hikers have started from the Georgia end since March 1st when the trial opens.
Then we set off on the trail walking through the stone archway, which features the beginning of the side trail which officially leads to the AT. Jeff wanted us to hike with him on the mile trail to see the majestic Amacalola Falls, but Beth (who unfortunately was in flip flops and had to take Dramamine to survive the road, wasn't up to it and neither was I. The trail is beautiful starting at a resevoir and runs alongside a large stream with many small waterfalls. But then it suddenly goes up at a steep angle where I was working bent over in half to make it up the incline. We did get to a plateau where we could take photos and see Jeff off, but Kendall and I only made it about 1/8 of the mile, I'm afraid. I don't know how Jeff does it, but he's been in training so he will do fine. At Christmas he weighed a slim 180, but bulked up on purpose knowing he'll lose a lot of weight on the hike. A week's worth of his food fits in a shoebox.