Amicalola Falls to Neels Gap
Hey guys! Welcome back as I write I’m sitting warm and safe with a belly full of food in a cabin. After hiking almost 40 miles and spending a week in the mountains it feels like a five-star resort. I spent the last week Pondering the content of this blog and jotting down notes from time to time. One thing that stuck out to me about living in the backcountry is the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced out there. So I decided to tell the story of last week’s adventure through a series of emotional highs and lows
We arrived in Amicalola last Thursday as planned and spent two nights in the lodge there at the state park one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed at. Our room had an amazing view of the Georgia mountains. The day we spent wandering around Ellijay Georgia amusing ourselves and buying last-minute gear. We ate breakfast and were serenaded by an older gentleman who sounded something like Johnny Cash at the cornerstone cafe. That night we met up with Savanna’s brother and my good friend, Austin. Early Saturday morning we were up and after our thru-hiker orientation, we obtained the tags that made us officially thru-hikes. We said our goodbyes to the folks who came to see us off and we started the climb up springer mountain. Where we planned to spend the night.
3 am my eyes snap open our tent lit up from a flash of lightning overhead. Rain is dumping down on us and what was a dry patch of dirt just last night is now a river of water pooling all around our tent. The temperature had dropped to sub-freezing overnight. fear starts to creep into my mind this is just the first night and nobody is coming to help the only way out is a brutal 7-mile hike down the mountain in the dark and rain. So I close my eyes focus on my breathing and try to calm my mind.
Sunday morning is cold but clear our gear is wet but luckily our tent kept water from running into our tent. We pack up in good spirits. After a breakfast of freeze-dried biscuits and gravy. We start the last mile up springer mountain. Where the Appalachian trail officially starts. we planned to camp at stover creek shelter that night only 3.5 miles from the start of the trail. Made it to camp early and met some other thru-hikers there (Ben and Mario). slept well that night, and woke up feeling refreshed and ready for anything the mountains could throw at us.
By lunch, Savanna was starting to experience severe knee pain. So I called Austin who had hiked on ahead and told him I didn’t know if we’d make it to where we had planned to camp at Justus creek. He told me he’d go on as planned and wait for us at Neels gap. Savanna being stubborn insisted we keep going on to justus creek even though she visibly cringed with each step. “It’s only the up and down that hurts she said. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the entire trail. She pushed on through the pain like a savage and we made it to Justus creek by 6 o clock.
Austin was nowhere to be seen so we assumed he must have kept going on ahead to the next shelter to camp around people. So we pitched our tent hung our food bag and settled in for the night. Once again I wake up in the middle of the night this time though there’s something outside our tent something big and black and it’s trying to stick its nose into our tent! I try to yell to scare it off but the words stick in my throat, I yell hey bear! Which wakes up not only Savanna but also myself. Just a bad dream seems funny now but I assure you I did not think so at the time. The next day we took a zero there and spent the day playing chess in our tent.
Tuesday we got service and called Austin, he made it to Woody’s gap and informed us there was trail magic there in the form of pancakes! The next miles seemed just a little easier we finally made it to Woody’s gap and met back up with Austin he introduced us to Gum Drop, Baby Bird, and Kole. Who drove from Brooklyn to make pancakes and pasta for the hikers they had thru-hiked last year and missed the trail so they came back to experience it through us. It was the first real food in a few days and was a huge morale booster! We thanked them and hiked another three miles onto our last camp on the trail before Neels gap where I had previously reserved a cabin for a couple of days so Savanna could rest her knees, and we could replenish our depleted food bags.
I’ve learned that out here you are not battling with just nature, or the next big climb, or even bears. The anxiety and fear of the unknown, failure, and disappointment is the true challenge. If you trust the trail, the trail will provide… P.S. music is a huge comfort, the soundtrack to my hike currently is Northern attitude by Noah Kahan.
Thanks for reading feel free to reach out with any questions or input on the blog. You can DM me on Instagram @timmyl_99
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