Finally on the Trail!!
Thursday April 16, 2015
After nearly a year of planning, fussing, sewing and ordering stuff, we finally left for our mega-adventure on the Appalachian Trail! We were up past midnight, nervously finishing up all our packing and cleaning.
At 4:00 a.m., our alarm went off and 45 minutes later we were whisked away to the Kalamazoo airport where we then flew to Chicago and then to Atlanta.
Once in Atlanta, we needed to catch a train to one of the suburbs where we would be picked up by someone from the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega, GA. It was a long, long day of traveling on very little sleep.
Friday April 17, 2015
Springer Mountain to Hawk Mountain Shelter
AT Miles: 8.1
Fitbit Miles: 12.7 (The Fitbit miles includes ALL the walking around I do, including trips to the privy. It doesn’t account for almost 5 miles difference, but I think we walked more than 8 miles! It took us most of the day!)
Weather: Light rain, pleasant temps. Hiked in t-shirts and shorts.
The Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega was great! For $80 each, they picked us up in Atlanta, provided clean and comfortable accommodations, a yummy breakfast, and then drove us to the trailhead at Springer Mountain. Before leaving the hostel, we hung our packs up to see how much they weighed. Our goal had been to be under 25 pounds for each pack, with mine being closer to 20. Mine weighed in (with food and water) at 23, and Mel’s was 27. Good enough!
One guy, whose pack weighed 45 pounds, including a guitar, had left change behind in the hostel because he said it weighed too much!
Because of all the rain lately, the paths were very, very muddy. It was like slogging through a pig pen! One young woman thought it was such great fun to hike in the mud that she decided to do it barefoot–and she convinced two young guys to do the same thing! It reminded us of a book we had recently read about two sisters who had hiked the entire trail barefoot–first southbound and then northbound in the same year! The book is called The Barefoot Sisters. I can’t imagine doing that–too many sticks and stones and rocks!
Because it was pretty wet out with a chance of more rain, we decided to sleep in the shelter with 5 or 6 other people. We stayed dry and didn’t have to put away a wet tent in the morning, but it was pretty noisy long after we would normally have fallen asleep in the tent. Tradeoffs.
Saturday April 18, 2015
Hawk Mountain Shelter to Gooch Gap
AT Miles: 9.1
Fitbit miles: 12.8
Weather: Mostly sunny, temps in the 70s
Started at 8:00 in the morning and ended at 4:45 (with breaks)
It was a pleasant day for hiking, although there were some hellacious hills that really got our hearts pumping! The downhills weren’t much better because they turned our legs into jelly.
The nicest part of today’s walk was the break we took at Justice Creek to refill our water bottles. I took off my shoes and socks and soaked my feet in the river. It was so cold! But it felt sooo good! Then I took my bandana and wiped as much sweat and mud off my body as I could. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wash away the stink.
We took another break late in the afternoon at Gooch Gap Shelter where several hikers had already gathered. We had decided to cook our main meal there and then hike another hour or so to Gooch Gap where we would camp for the night.
It was a nice quiet setting until the rains started. OMG! It was so loud on the tent that we couldn’t hear each other talk! It rained and rained and rained all night long.
Sunday April 19, 2015
AT Miles: 4
Fitbit miles: Who knows. It was so rainy today, I hid it in my pack to keep it dry.
Weather: Rain, sleet, wind, cold.
We only walked about 4 miles today because the weather was unrelentingly horrible. Our tent was wet inside and out. We packed up in the rain, we walked in the rain and for more than two hours, we sloshed through the mud. We only took one outdoor picture today–of our wet miserable selves.
Fortunately, before we left our tent this morning, Mel looked to see if there was anyplace dry and warm that we could stay for the night. There was a hostel in Suches only four miles away–two hours on foot, that is. If you call the hostel from Woody Gap, they come get you! I couldn’t walk fast enough! I was like a horse headed to the barn at feeding time!
This hostel is bare bones, but it’s warm and dry and has a shower! I smell so bad! It also has a convenience store/restaurant attached. We’re in a bunkroom with a ton of other wet, soggy hikers.
Tomorrow’s weather calls for more rain and maybe even a tornado. We’ll decide in the morning whether to head out or stay put.
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