Day One of My Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike
I woke up to my alarm this morning after a sub-par night of sleep in a sub-par hotel. My good friend Chris Jones and his daughter Kylie had driven me to Georgia yesterday and were up and ready to get me to the Approach Trail (huge thanks to them). We made a quick pit stop at Chic-fil-a and headed to Amicalola State Park to register.
While waiting on the rangers to open the door, I met Jared, a fellow thru-hiker ready to start his journey too.
Like me, Jared had just graduated and was getting a late start because of it. He and I took our photo under the famous arch and I started the approach trail with Chris and Kylie, who wanted to hike with me just up the waterfall, say goodbye, and get back for their long ride home. About a mile into this trip, we see a sign telling us the trail was closed, so, like the skeptics we are, we hiked on. Not long after this, we see why the trail was closed, as the Amicalola Falls steps were being repaired.
Our little group turned around to figure out our plan B, reached the car, and drove up one of the roads in the park until we ended up at the top of the falls. After a photo op, a prayer, and some goodbyes, I headed for Maine. As I was hiking, I ran into Jared and ended up hiking with him for quite a while, stopping often because I kept cramping up when walking uphill. The Approach Trail was brutal and kicked my butt and as I laid my poles down to rest I sat them right on the Southern Terminus of the AT plaque. It was nothing like I pictured, but no less magical as I saw blaze #1. Jared and I started hiking down Springer with our spirits very much lifted. Four miles went by in no time as Jared and I chatted on assorted topics, but we reached his shelter, where we parted ways with an awkward handshake (if I’m being honest). From here I had another 6 miles, 3 of which went beautifully, meandering through magnolias and pines standing tall over a shag carpet of wild ferns. The last 3 miles before reaching Hawks Mountain Shelter did not go as well.
It’s not that this section was any less beautiful, as it was probably even more so. The problem was me, as I was exhausted and had to keep stopping. I ate a few snacks and kept trudging on, murmuring to myself “I think I can, I think I can” until I passed the hilly section. It was somewhere in those hills that my snacks kicked in and I hauled butt the last mile and a half into camp.
Naturally, the shelter was filled with weekend campers, so I set up my tent and laid down for a delicious dinner of fruit snacks, a Clif bar, some Oreos, a peanut butter tortilla, and a pack of peanut M&M’s. Not a bad first day if you ask me.
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