I'm planning from Springer Mountain to Franklin, NC or thereabouts and would like to offer my itinerary.
This Wednesday: Get off work at noon; fly out of BWI 6:30pm arrive ATL 11:50pm. Check into Hilton Airport. I've been advised that there are cheaper hotels at the North Springs MARTA (Atlanta's public transportation train system) Station (where most [all?] shuttles pick up for Springer) but I had a free night at Hilton so I figured I'd stay as close to the airport as possible.
Thursday: Wake up, eat, and take the MARTA to North Springs Station. Meet Dave of Survivor Dave's Shuttles at 10am to take me to Springer. Dave's rate is $110 which includes fuel for my stove and he's taking me to where USFS 42 intersects with the AT. At that point its a 1 mile hike south to the trailhead at Springer.
From this point I figure I'll hike as many miles per day as I feel comfortable with stopping when I get tired. I've got a tarp for cover so I don't have to stop at shelters. I'm not really sure what my pack weighs as I'm experimenting with some new lightweight gear (tarp, Snowpeak Gigapower stove, just enough clothing to make me feel safe for the weather).
Food will be mostly quinoa, a grainlike seed which I plan on presoaking as I hike and simmering with some dried and/or canned food. I'm trying to eat healthy on the trail and stay away from the ubiquitous mac n' cheese, pasta, etc. We'll see how it goes. I mailed about half my food to myself c/o Mountain Crossings about thirty miles north of Springer. They also have a store with food, fuel, etc. on the trail.
I've given myself about ten days to make it to Franklin and my Dad will drive up from the coast to pick me up. I plan on calling him when I'm a couple of days away to finalize our plan. If I make really good time I may try to push on to Fontana Dam and get picked up there. It's really nice not to have a firm deadline as I don't have to be back at work for another week or so after I finish my hike.
I'd love for people to comment on my plan, gear, schedule, or anything else. I'll post again after I'm done. Thanks!