To Approach, or Not to Approach…

That truly IS the question I’m here to ask!  I found myself asking this question several times before my 2012 AT thru hike and now that I’m hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail I find myself asking it yet again.  The Approach Trail is an optional 8.8 mile (according to my 2012 AT Guide) that leads a hiker from Amicalola Falls State Park to the top of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT and BMT. Technically, since the BMT starts about 0.2 miles away, it would add an extra 9 miles to our BMT hike.

When I was trying to decide whether or not to hike the approach in 2012 I was more or less trying to follow the popular opinion about hiking the Approach Trail.  Many hikers do it, but usually because this is where the shuttle drops them off from wherever they’re arriving.  For me, I can be dropped off either on USFS 42 or at Amicalola Falls so that isn’t my issue.  I also don’t need an extra day to get my trail legs under me since I’m an experienced hiker.  The real issue here is whether or not I want to carry an extra half a day worth of food to hike the nine miles.

Neither NoKey or I hiked the Approach Trail in 2012, so it would be new trail for both of us.  We always love experiencing new hikes together and since I’ve hiked much of the BMT before, it would definitely be new territory.  On the other hand, the fact that the miles don’t really “count” toward anything either isn’t really exciting.  Even though it’s about the journey and the smiles, not the miles, doing 9 miles that aren’t really merited is really never on any hiker’s list.  I mean, we don’t even go to shelters or views or ANYTHING more than 0.2 miles off trail.  It’s kind of our thing.

Are you doing or have you done The Approach Trail?  What were your reasons?  I’d love to talk to you about it.  Leave me a comment or connect with me on Facebook!

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