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 Noodles. Thanks, Mikey!

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

  • pearwood : May 11th

    Chapter one, in which the trail gives her a taste of all the interesting weather to come.

  • Steve Perry : May 11th

    I’m a bit in awe at liquidating everything to hike. Commitment, total, but the story told is so nicely peaceful. I’ve been through those mountain thunderstorms, set up wet tents, hiked in flowing water. But never at the beginning of a trip to Maine!

    And encouragement. This encourages me to keep training. I find myself having largely liquidated, out of the habit of working. By late next winter I may have all the family business sorted out, and actually be able to jump onto the AT in my late 60s. Suspect I’m far more mentally prepared than I would have been in my 20s. Surprisingly, I might actually be almost as physically capable! It’s an exciting thought.

    Thanks for writing. I look forward to more.


What Do You Think?