First 4 Days: Springer to Neel Gap
Sunshine & Springer
The first two days the trail seemed to ease me into it with sunshine and good vibes. As my friend George said, “’twas an auspicious start.” After spending the first day playing around Amicalola Falls, Mama Bird drove us to Springer Mountain the next morning. We hiked together from the parking lot (MM 1) to the official start of the trail MM 0 and then back to MM 1 again. Backward and forward. Mile Marker 0 is where the AT plaque is, so we took the obligatory photos and I signed my first trail log.
Two days of sunshine, hiking, eating, setting up/breaking down camp, and restless sleeping. The first night I slept at a campsite just shy of a shelter area. The campsites were scattered down a hill that led to a water source, so I was able to have some privacy getting my tent set up for the first time and getting situated in general.
The second night I slept at an actual shelter area and met my first group of fellow thru-hikers along with quite a few section hikers. Everyone was nervous and excited and there was lots of chatter about people’s gear choices and the impending rain/thunderstorms that were headed our way the next day.
Blood Mountain & Rain
Then came the rain. I woke up to rain the third morning and it proceeded to rain for the next 48 hours. The first day of rain and I was still smiling. The phrase ‘No rain. No pain. No Maine’ was on loop in my head. It’s a pain breaking down a wet camp, but even more so putting back up an already wet tent in the rain again at the end of a long day of hiking in the rain. I still loved it.
Then came the second full day of rain, but not just rain, full-on thunderstorms. I made it to the top of Blood Mountain in the pouring rain, signed the logbook, waited for the thunder to die down a bit, and then took off down the mountain.
Blood Mountain is the highest peak in Georgia at 4442 feet. Within minutes of taking off, a hellacious thunderstorm rolled over, turning the trail into a nonstop waterfall and lightning bolts all over the place. It was terrifying and exhilarating and the energy at Neel Gap, which is at the base of Blood Mountain was buzzing. There is an outfitter called ‘Mountain Crossings’ right on trail at Neel Gap. This is the first resupply spot for hikers and they have frozen pizza (and an oven). I had a couple of slices compliments of my first tramily member, Mikey Noodle Arms. Thanks, Mikey!
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