Day 8 the approach trail

A red eye landed me in Atlanta around 4:30 am Friends (on similar flights) took me back to their place, where we napped till late morning.

I picked up fuel at REI, lunch (a corn dog), and headed to Amolicolas Falls. Unsure where to head I followed the signs till a volunteer pulled me into a 10-minute briefing, which was a complete surprise such a formal introduction existed.

He discussed Leave No Trace, food storage, the 1st 87 miles, and the norovirus; then handed me a tag. I am the 2370th hiker to leave Amolicolas Falls this year.

I parted ways with my friends, bought a snack, and headed up the trail.

It’s far warmer here in Georgia than in Virginia. I made it to the Black Gap shelter. I set up my tent and made friends with a few other hikers. The approach trail is 6+ miles and a difficult climb. A bit brutal since the miles don’t “count”

Day 9 Miles 0 – 7.4 

I quickly passed Springer Mountain, the official start of the trail. A fellow hiker (who left camp a few hours before me) mentioned he didn’t have any maps and wanted me to point him the right direction. I did and started off.

I spent most of the day focusing on my walk, trying to determine if there was anything in my gate that I could tweak to reduce my knee pain. Made it to Hawk Mountain Shelter by 2. The slow day was frustrating, so I distracted myself from not hiking by taking a nap, setting up camp, and collecting wood for a fire. Eventually a small community gathered for dinner and the camp fire I made. I enjoyed the company and giving little tips / sharing my experiences. Turns out long distant hiking accomplishment are best appreciated by budding long distance hikers.

Day 10 Miles 7.4 – 21.2 (13.8)

In the morning I passed the hiker with no maps. He exclaimed how happy he was to see me. Sounds like he hiked for most the night, unsure which direction was North and convinced he was headed back to Amolicolas Falls.

I hiked with him most the day. He talked a lot, mostly about conspiracy theories and other questionable facts. Notably how we all time warped exactly one year due to a particle accelerator, and we all have faint memories of already hiking the Appalachian Trail together, also the earth is flat and somehow all rocks look like birds.

At mile 15.5 (.1 miles to the next shelter) we split. Emma (whom also has knee problems) recommended I put away the trekking since they can make you lean forward, putting pressure on the ligaments. I tried it out and could feel the difference, I cautiously hiked onwards till it started to rain hard. I set up tent alone and enjoyed a quiet evening in the rain.

Day 11 Miles 21.2 – 32.4 (11.2)

The rain ended by the morning, it was a warm and humid hike up Blood Mountain, but town was calling so the miles moved quickly. I hit Neels Gap by 1 pm. At Neels gap there is a gear store, I picked up town shorts (the clothes you wear in town while laundering your only other outfit) and soap, but didn’t want to good resupply there since it seemed expensive.

I offered to another hiker, Pearl, to head into town for a cheaper resupply, plus then she could learn / experience hitchhiking. Her friend Gabby also joined, so after 10 mins of waiting, we were all squeezing into a tiny Fiat driven by a very chatty older lady. It was plenty of laughs as she took pictures and we swapped stories. We resupplied at a grocery store and stopped in for a late lunch.

We hitched out of town with a local couple and made our way out of the gap, covering just a few miles before setting up camp.

Day 12 Miles 32.4 – 43 (10.6)

A thunder storm broke around 630 am, it rained hard enough to splash water off the ground under the vestibule into my tent. The storm came directly over us. By 8 am it died down and I was out of my tent. By 9 the clouds were clear and we set off. I hiked most of the morning with Gabby.

It was a hot and humid day, but easy hiking. Pearl stopped 50 yds. away from where Gabby and I lunched and dried our tent. Which was both amusing and frustrating since we could literally see her through the trees.  We went back to get her, and all hiked the next five miles to Low Gap shelter. There a small community of hikers coalesced, laughing all night about our conspiracy theory friend and other shenanigans.

Day 13 Miles 43 – 52.7 (9.7)

Heidi, Emma, Gabby, and Pearl decided after much debate that we were going to take a night off in Hiawassi to avoid the rain. (2nd option was to hike an additional 16 miles and hitch into town there after a night of rain) The five of us hitched into town and elected to cram into a small motel room: a motel room is bigger than a shelter. Though I ended up bunking with another hiker who had a spare bed in his room.

I spent the afternoon doing town chores, buying food resupply, taking a shower, washing clothes in the sink, grabbing bites to eat.


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 1

  • Emma "Kaleb" : Apr 25th

    Thank you for mentioning Heidi and me by name. We appreciate it <3

    Stop and smell the rocks.


What Do You Think?