Day 2: As Good as it Gets

An Early Start

The cold woke me before the sun. The dogs had wedged themselves into a warm spot, pulling the quilt off my backside. I can ignore a cold behind for only so long and wrestling the blanket back from two very comfortable doodles killed any chance of going back to sleep. Plus, it was already 6:45 am. I rarely sleep past 5:00 am at home. I guess the time change and late sunrises are gifts.

Dog Vet

We had camped at the Springer Mountain parking area, right on the trail, so after a quick breakfast I headed out with Roux. Gus is still nursing his broken claw (toenail?), so he missed his turn to hike with me. And by nursing, I mean incessantly licking.

Last night, I tried to fix his claw with Superglue, but ended up getting making a mess of the hair on his foot and almost gluing his toes together. Before you contact the SPCA, I’ve used Superglue on my own cuts many times. It’s a miracle cure and will always live in my first aid kit. Gus was much better this morning, but probably needs a few more days of rest before testing his claws out on the rocks and mud.

Hiking With Doodles

Speaking of the doodles and the SPCA, our dogs are bomber hikers. They literally beg us to go hiking. If they so much as hear mebump into one of their leashes, they are up and pawing at the door. Roux may be more excited about hiking the AT than me. Her trail blog reads: “That pokey old man was ahead of me again all day. He never gets out of the way!!”

They are also obedience trained, and walk in the heel position slightly behind me on the trail, at least as long as I keep reminding them. They also wear tracking collars, as well as an obedience collar that allows me to give them a beep or a vibration if they forget to pay attention to my commands.  And I have a pocket full of dog treats to reward them periodically for obeying.

And yes, they will be mostly off leash along the AT. Technically, they are being off-leash trained, which is legal in most jurisdictions. I leash them up near road crossings, when we encounter other dogs, or if we come up on a crowd of hikers, especially if they are eating. The hikers, not the doodles. The doodles have yogi-ing down to a science, so letting them loose near someone else’s food is never a good idea.

Day 2 on the Trail

Ok, back to today’s hike. I’m trying to keep my daily mileage low for the first few weeks. For me that means 8-12 miles. Today’s walk was 11.3 miles, with a few decent climbs and descents. The Achilles and knees felt great. I was tired for the last steep climb before Cooper Gap, but only in a good way. I really wanted to hike a few more hours, especially since I got in just after noon, but I’m trying to be smart.

I passed more thru hikers on the trail today. I had nice chats with Drewby (sp?) from Baltimore, Doggone and 13 who met on the PCT last year and who have a triple crown between them, Walmart who is hiking his 5th consecutive AT thru hike, Steve who was out of water (which we took care of), as well as a few others whose names escape me. Remembering names is definitely not my forte. There was a fairly steady stream of hikers passing through Cooper Gap in the early afternoon, probably 5 or so per hour, but it slowed to a trickle. Still, I wouldn’t call the trail over-crowded, or even crowded.

Catching Up on the News

Drewby filled me in on the hiker “rescue” on Springer yesterday – the old guy walked with assistance to the trailhead and took an ambulance ride down the mountain. What a pity.

I did not see the family with the preschoolers during my hike, but I passed quite a few still-zipped-up tents during between 7:30 and 10:30. Any one of them could have been theirs. And then, at nearly 6:00 pm, they all came walking through Cooper Gap on their way to Justus Creek. The dad said they were pretty tired, but they looked happy.

Alas, Prius-camping Josie was not at any of the Gaps today.

As Good as it Gets

All in all, today was a perfect day for hiking – a bluebird sky, a slight breeze, frosty morning temperatures, a slightly chilly afternoon, and the first signs of spring. I saw my first trillium and buttercup blooms, plus lots of star chickweed.

It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Today’s Stats:

  • Start: Springer Mountain Parking Area (Mile 1.0)
  • End: Cooper Gap (Mile 12.3)
  • Weather: Bluebirds and Sunshine
  • Earworm: None, thankfully.
  • Mediation: Psalm 23
  • Best Thing: First Trillium blossum
  • Worst Thing: Gus’ sore toe

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • Alison : Apr 11th

    Wow, doodles! I’m always psyched to read about dogs on trail. My two (lab and a pyrenees) are joining me on the Long Trail this June, and we have AT plans going forward. They love backpacking and tenting, so we’ll see how they do longer distance. Not setting any speed records for sure! Best wishes out there!

    • Jon : Apr 11th

      My female is a squirrel chaser, which is concerning. Other than that, it’s been great…someone to talk to, as well as an ice-breaker. Gotta watch out for the dog-haters though. Thanks for reading & enjoy the Long Trail!


What Do You Think?