Amicalola to Neels Gap


And so the journey begins on a rainy day in North Georgia as we drive into Amicalola Falls State Park to begin my thru hike of the Appalachian trail. After a briefing by some rangers and a hard goodbye with Destinee, I set out north to Springer.

Those Stairs Though…

After ascending the famously difficult stairs up to the falls, which I foolishly decided to do AGAIN after doing them on a shakedown trip last May, I set along the approach trail to the AT.
After a quiet night at the Springer shelter I found myself hiking on toward Hawk Mountain where I met a fun crew of thru hikers staying at the shelter who truly began to introduce me to the thru hiker culture. With names like Tunnel Rat, Highlander, and Frosty I couldn’t help but feel like I had finally fallen into the world I had only been experiencing on the periphery until now. We shared stories and laughs and a shared optimism for the future of our hikes.

When I ask if someone is a thru hiker, the common response is, “That’s the plan,” or “Hope so,” and yet I can’t help but see a strong sense of confidence in each of their eyes that amazes me to see even after they’ve slogged up and down mountains.

A Rose By Any Other Trail Name

And so, after only three days on trail, I have a trail name!

I am Captain! Or Cap’n.

Since my goal is to become a high school English teacher after this hike, I mentioned around the fire that I love the movie Dead Poets Society and shamelessly model myself after the rebel English teacher Mr. Keating. And so Fun Fact, known for her nearly endless fun facts, dubbed me Captain after the famous final scene where the students stand on their desks for Mr. Keating shouting, “Oh Captain my Captain!”

I think it’s a fitting trail name for me.

Blood & Pizza

Ah, Blood Mountain. So often touted as the first major obstacle to northbound hikers. It’s southern slope is long and features many switchbacks leading up to the top and the north side is steep and rocky but if the weather is nice the views from the top are phenomenal! You can see a beautiful panorama of the Georgia mountains and your future path north towards Maine.

The real motivation that got me over that mountain though was pizza. Red Baron frozen pizza to be exact. Now that may not sound like a luxurious meal to someone at home with a refrigerator full of food but after three whole days of backpacking food, it was a meal for kings! Combined with a warm cabin and some great food cooked by the trail family, the first section of my thru hike has turned out to be all I hoped.



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