Chills, Thrills, and a Midnight Visitor: Embarking on Our Appalachian Coldventure in Georgia

The excitement was at its peak when James and I took our first steps on the Appalachian Trail, ready to take on the Calendar Year Triple Crown challenge. Those first three days symbolized the start of an epic adventure for James and a support mission for me. This joint departure was meant to be a symbol of our commitment and mutual support in this grand adventure.

Braving the Cold Together

In our Canadian minds, accustomed to harsh winters, Georgia evoked images of warmth. Our surprise was palpable when, upon arriving at the summit of Springer Mountain (the starting point of the Appalachian Trail), the cold and wind greeted us with an intensity that quickly swept away our illusions. Reality caught up with us: winter here could bite too, and Georgia was not the warmth oasis we had naively imagined.

The first nights were a trial as the mercury lowered to near 0°C (32°F). We were quite pleased to have brought our double sleeping bag to face the cold together (we do have some experience, after all!). The three-sided shelters, supposedly useful for blocking rain and wind, sometimes turned out to be real drafts for air currents, especially the one where the wind whistled through the floorboards.

In this freezing context, an unexpected visitor decided to make an appearance. A curious little mouse decided my head was the perfect spot for a nocturnal exploration. After all, I should have expected it, as it’s the third time these charming little creatures seem to mistake my red hair for a playground.

Blood Mountain, a panoramic shift

Moreover, initially, nothing on the trail could really compare to the epic landscapes of the Canadian Rockies we were used to. But upon reaching Blood Mountain on the third day, we were treated to a panoramic view of mountains as far as the eye could see. It was pretty, though not extraordinary, but it was nice to see something different, and it made the hike a bit more enjoyable. Moreover, the rocky summit of Blood Mountain (4,458 ft / 1,359 m) is really charming with its vegetation and stone shelter. It’s probably the most beautiful one-day hike on the AT in Georgia.

Shelter on Blood Mountain

Doubts in the Cold

Then, each frosty morning reminded us of the challenge’s magnitude. It was really hard to get out of the sleeping bag. James began to question his decision. The cold made him doubt, and doubt crept into his mind. Was it really the right decision to start the Appalachian Trail at this time of year, especially knowing that the further north we went, the lower the temperatures would get?

However, on the fifth day, a rise in temperatures marked a turning point. A warm and sunny day dispelled his doubts. He felt good vibes again, confident in facing his challenge.

By the way, James is the 50th hiker to start the AT this year. That means there are at least 49 people even braver (or crazier) than him!!

More seriously, this experience demonstrates a simple yet powerful lesson: facing adversity and moments when we feel miserable due to weather conditions, it’s easy to think the situation won’t improve. But the reality is the sun always comes back, and with it, confidence and positivism. It’s like in life, difficult moments, just like clouds, eventually pass. They are not eternal, and behind them, the blue sky patiently waits to unveil itself again.

The Advantage of an Early Start

That said, there is nonetheless a notable advantage for James starting so early in the season, and that’s the solitude on the trail he thoroughly enjoys. For him, solitude is synonymous with freedom – the freedom to fully engage in the experience, to be present with oneself, and to walk at his own pace, in harmony with nature. And every rare encounter becomes a special moment.

In conclusion, the first days on the AT were a test of resilience against the cold and a celebration of our joint commitment. They laid the foundation for an adventure that proves to be both an inward and outward journey. For James, every step is a step towards realizing his dream. For me, it’s the opportunity to support the man I love in his quest, while sharing with him, in my own way, the joys and pains of this exceptional journey.

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Comments 2

  • Gingerbreadman : Feb 8th

    CYTC or ECT….. whatever happened to GaMe or MxCa? Well more power to all you behemoth hikers…I always rested a few years between trails & did something else like Kayaking the Mississippi or biking across Europe. Got mad respect for all y’all! Maybe you’ll get it out of your system & start saving up for retirement….I never did! Gingerbreadman AT9 , Miss90, EuroCycleCircle92, PCT93, AlpsTrail 97, RMT 04 (did Rockies, not whole divide, CaMx! ) Etc… Happy trails & Angelling! Sincerely, Roadgoliath (biker name).

    • Gingerbreadman : Feb 8th

      Sorry forgot Aus-trail-ia 06-07…. Brisbane to Melbourne; after having been broken by the oh-so-dry Bicentennial Outback trail! Well the wild dingoes really do howl in the Blues Mtns. & the leeches really do twirl around in the hundreds on your rainfly down by the creek on the 6 foot track…to quote Slim Dusty, most famous Aussie singer, born on my bday-June 13, ” There’s nothing so lonesome, morbid, or drear; as to stand at the bar, of a pub with no beer!”


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