And They’re Off!!

The Day is Finally Upon Us

Day 1

During breakfast at the hotel just outside Atlanta my hiking buddy Caroline was totally not eavesdropping on the chatter at the next table.  When she realized they were also hikers, she introduced herself and we met the first people we’d be bumping into on trail.

So thrilled to be 913!

Our shuttle driver took us first to Amicalola where we picked up our tags. I had been really hoping for a number with 13, and am thrilled to be thru hiker 913.  And of course pictures at the arch.

Mandatory arch shot

Then she drove us on back roads to Springer Mountain, dropped us off, and drove away. It felt very surreal.  We had decided to skip doing the approach trail the previous day because of weather, and it was still wet and rainy. Walked a mile the wrong way (intentionally!)to touch the start of the trail, turned around, and hiked 2.8 miles to Stover Creek shelter. On the way back through the parking lot trail angel Miss Janet was handing out apples, and I happily took one.

I had my first fall on a slippery rock, but falling backwards my pack took all the impact. I was afraid I’d be turtled with my thirty pound pack, but I easily managed to get back up and continue on, and my hiking buddy was oblivious until I told her I had taken fall number one.


At Stover Creek I was happy to find we had room in the shelter, because I had only set my tent up a few times in my backyard and never in the rain.

Earning My Trail Name

I had spent six months complaining to my bestie about being intimidated by the camp stove and scared of the fuel.  He assured me I’d be fine.

Narrator:  She was not fine.

While attaching my stove to my new fuel canister it decompressed some gas (normal, but I wasn’t expecting it) and lit off my buddy’s flame, bursting into a huge fire ball as I dropped it on the table and it continued decompressing fuel.  For .817 seconds I envisioned the canister exploding and injuring everyone at the table with fuel and shrapnel, and the shelter catching fire and burning down.  Somehow I decided the stove and canister needed to go outside the shelter, onto the wet ground. Noting that the fire wasn’t hitting the base of the fuel canister much, I grabbed the whole thing as low as possible and threw it out of the shelter. It kept burning for awhile on the wet ground before finally sputtering out.  No injuries, and I still have eyebrows.  And now I am become Flamethrower, flinger of exploding stoves.

Testing stove pre hike, where it failed to explode

I was surprised that right after dinner everyone started settling in for the night and by 7 pm camp was dark and everyone was in bed. I spent fourteen hours in my sleeping bag and slept for all of three hours. Next to me was a woman with a dog named Dog, trail named Cujo.  Over morning coffee I found out from everyone else that despite all of us being in our sleeping bags forever, most people only slept for a few hours like me.

Day 2

Stover Creek to Hawk Mountain shelter, 5.3 miles. Still wet and muddy. Started the day with a water crossing, made difficult by the recent rain.  Took a little blue blaze to a waterfall and stopped for lunch.

Rolled in to Hawk Mountain shelter early afternoon and found a shelter spot. I wandered far from any fire to attach my stove to my fuel canister, and made dinner sans explosions. Caroline started a campfire and people gathered around to get warm and chat before going to bed in 20 something degree weather.


Why Wasn’t I Warned About All the Ascent?

Day 3

Hawk Mountain to Gooch mountain shelter. 7.7 very rough miles, starting with lots of elevation gain, and a mountain summit. And then we had five more miles to go. We arrived to find the shelter full and few tent sites left. First time setting up my tent in the great outdoors, and a piece broke! I had been suspicious of the plastic clips of my Big Agnes tent for good reason, and will be contacting them for a field repair kit.  I managed to get by with an extra stake, and had my first night of decent sleep.

Walking the Dog

Day 4

Gooch Mountain to Woody Gap, 4.8 miles. Ran into Miss Janet doing trail magic about a mile in. Was so happy to get the last apple, and a bunch of other snacks and sit with a group of hikers for awhile.  Setting off again, Miss Janet took our packs and gave us her dog to walk. Even without the pack I was dragging and happy for a low mileage day.



Met up with Miss Janet again at Woody Gap where we reluctantly handed Dexter back and got a ride to Above the Clouds Hostel, full of artwork done by one of the owners.

Hostel Above the Clouds


First shower in days, and everything laundered.  Loaner clothes for all, PJ bottoms and teeshirts.  Dinner at the hostel of Brunswick Stew (amazing) and cornbread. And the best part of all, they have a leg massager.

Oh, and a hostel kitty❤️

Onwards to Blood Mountain!!

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Comments 1

  • TaffyUK : Mar 23rd

    Flamethrower…Love it.


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