Amicalola Falls to Neil’s Gap

Day 1

Day one started with pure anxiety for this peregrination I found myself entering. Arriving at Amicalola around 3:00, my anxiety soon turned to excitement and anticipation as Bob broke down my trip through Georgia. I got my tag and took off towards trail and began my ascent of the Amicalola Falls. I stopped to take some photos of the water and pushed along. As I reached the approach, trail the sun began to fade behind the trees. I found a secluded camping spot and went about setting up my bear hang. After snapping my line, frustration and doubt filled my mind. I didn’t have any business being out here. With nothing left to do, I dug a cat hole deep enough and buried my food bag hundreds off feet off the trail, away from any tent sites, and down a steep embankment. I went to bed frustrated, defeated, and worried about what I would find in the morning.

Day 2

I woke several times throughout the night, and eventually, I gave in and got myself out of my tent. To my surprise, my food bag was in good shape, and my energy invigorated. My day started with the long walk up the approach trail and up to the top of Springer Mountain. The trail was well maintained, the scenery was beautiful, and my spirits were high. I ran into several other thru-hikers that day; one of which was working on the AT in order to complete his triple crown. I sat atop Springer, taking photos for what seemed like hours. The view was pure bliss. Eventually, I worked my way down the mountain and moved on to Stover Creek Shelter. Enjoyed a meal with some fellow thru-hikers and was given some great advice from Ridgerunner Monarch. I went to bed happy, with excitement for day 3.

Day 3

Day 3 was incredible. I received my first bit of trail magic from the wonderful folks with the Gorgia Adventurers Group at the Hickory Flats cemetery. I enjoyed a hotdog, soda, and good conversation with these incredible people, as well as a few friendly faces from my night at Stover. If I could make a recommendation, it would be to try the Elvis Sandwich. As tough as it was, I left the comfort of the warm fire and worked my way up Sassafras Mountain. It was my first challenge since Springer, and I blew through it quickly, and before I knew it, I was descending the mountain. My speed was slow descending due to the abrasive nature of my pack weight, but after a little while, I remembered something I had heard from a veteran thru-hiker. I shifted my my body sideways and began crab walking down the mountain. My pace quickened, and my knees were better off for it. I made it to Gooch Gap Sheltet late in the day and struggled to find a place to camp. Eventually, I found my spot and moved up to the picnic area for some conversation with both some familiar faces and some new ones. We all planned our days, and some of us decided to put in the miles and push for Neil Gap. I slept well that night with the prospect of Blood Mountain looming in my mind. My first real challenge would begin early in the morning.

Day 4

Day 4 was easily the most arduous but rewarding day thus far. It was a near 15-mile day from Gooch Gap Shelter to Mountain Crossing, where I was determined meet orange kitty, and obtain my much needed bear line. Starting late as a result of the cold/aches and pains, I woke late and subsequently packed late. I made it to Woody Gap with a couple of guys I had been leapfrogging with, where I was pleasantly surprised to receive a bit of trail magic from Ass Captain and family. We enjoyed burgers, soda, and friendly conversation. Me and another hiker devised a plan where we would make it to Bull Gap before nightfall and pushed on towards blood mountain. We hit the blood mountain wilderness and attempted to push through. As it began, the ascent just passed Jarrard Gap I felt a strong shooting pain course through my knee. Unable to stay at Jarrard Gap without a bear canister and in need of bear line for my PCT hang, I pushed on. I nearly ran up Blood Mountain, for stopping would cause me immense amounts of pain. Once at the top, I drank a caffeine infused electrolyte drink mix with a nice dose of vitamin I. Feeling reinvigorated, I sprang down the mountain in the most fun section of the AT thus far. I hiked with a couple of fellow thru-hikers down the boulder field. As the rain field turned back into regular trail, I began to hear the roar of cars. Nearly running, I pushed myself the last few hundred feet down the mountain and across the road. To my great elation I discovered Mountain Crossing was still open. I enjoyed a pizza with some friendly faces, charged my electronics, and even got to hang out with the world famous Orange Kitty. As the day winded down, I began to make my way through mountain crossing, where I was blessed with another bit of trail magic from my new friends. They had saved a spot for me and my tent behind Mountain Crossing. We faded into the night with laughs and good stories around a campfire. Tomorrow, I will receive a shower and do some laundry. All is well.


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