First 5 Days

Well, it’s Day 5 including the Approach Trail, day 4 on the Appalachian Trail. We’ve run out of food and water and Kara is cooking a mouse I managed to kill while fighting over the last of the crumbs in the bottom of our food bags…

KIDDING. The trail has been amazing and we are doing just fine in the confines of a cozy B&B just outside of Blairsville, GA (not kidding). The weather forecast called for a rainy day all day today so we decided to hike 2.5 miles this morning from Bagg’s Creek to Hogpen Gap where the host of the B&B picked us up. It’s uncharacteristic of me to keep a consistent and detailed journal but it’s become a nightly ritual because it seems so much happens in one day. I have so much to share but I’ll just share the highlights:

Day 2

Sunset on Springer Mountain.

Sunset on Springer Mountain.

The first day, after camping on Springer Mountain, which is the beginning of the trail or the Southern Terminus, we watched a gorgeous foggy sunrise and had breakfast with fellow hikers camping there. Kara bestowed the trail name “Thrice” to a nice college grad who was telling us the story of how he got lost and went through the Amacolola Approach Trail arch three times before finding the beginning of the AT. He wasn’t ashamed and gladly took his name.

AT thru-hikers give each other “trail names” instead of using their real names on trail. Neither of us has taken on a trail name yet, so we’re still just Nick and Kara. We made it to our planned destination, Hawk Mountain Shelter, at 1 p.m. We met a few people who were also thru-hiking but the most notable was a couple about our age with a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old baby. The father/husband had done the entire AT back in ‘15 so I suppose he knew what he was getting into. One p.m. was a bit early to stop so we broke our ‘8-10 mile maximum’ rule and ended up at Justus Creek for the night another 6 miles later. Camped with ‘Stride,’ who’s a thru-hiker from none other than Grand Rapids, Michigan! He hikes in a kilt. A 79-year-old man who was hiking the trail for 100 days and had a double lung transplant ran out of fuel asked us if we could boil some water for his dinner; we gladly obliged. Slept peacefully with the river right next to us.

Day 3

From Justus Creek, we hiked on to Lance Creek which is only about 8 miles. We stopped for the night here and began to see the usual suspects. We parked next to a guy from Knoxville who we’d later dub ‘Samson’ from yelling in his sleep after he thought his barber cut off 2 years’ worth of hard-earned man bun. Stride rolled in shortly after we’d begun unpacking. An 18-year-old thru-hiker came up to our tent grouping and joined our conversation. He was the eldest of his 9 siblings and was the first one to leave the house!

Lance Creek

Lance Creek crew.

During the night Kara and I both woke up to what sounded like a plane crashing in the mountains above us in slow motion. Neither Stride nor Samson heard it, but other people down the campsite did. Maybe a C-130 or a resurrected, refitted B-52 running low stealth missions is my best guess.

Day 4

Next up is Blood Mountain- the highest peak on the AT in Georgia. Blood Mountain shelter to me is a 1940’s pyramid. Built before helicopters, I can only imagine how tough it must have been for the poor bastards who lugged the stone and lumber up that grueling stretch.

Blood Mountain Shelter.

Absolutely gorgeous views from all sides. Most hikers complained about hiking up to the 4800’ peak; I complained about going down. Kara doesn’t ever seem to complain, just seems extra-appreciative when we’re done moving.

View from Blood Mountain.

We made it to Neel Gap around lunchtime, and again, met all the usual suspects we’ve been leapfrogging with the last couple of days. We both got sub sandwiches and watched the crowd of bikers, hikers, and tourists all act surprised to see each other there. Stride rolled in as we finished our sandwiches and Samson shortly after.

Stride, Kara, and me at Neel Gap.

We turned down a generous offer to stay at a Blood Mountain cabin to keep moving onto Bagg’s Creek. We said our see-ya’s (because Adieu’s are bad hiker juju) and found our way. Bagg’s, whoever he was, mustn’t have been popular in the area because the “creek” seeped out of the mountain from a sad-looking PVC pipe with a flow at exactly 1 liter per 21 seconds.

The creek at Bagg’s Creek.

The campsite was our favorite high campsite and Justus had been our favorite low campsite). Kara and I rushed to get our tent set up just before a quick and steady rainfall which lasted all of 15 minutes. With a little daylight left, the 8 or so of us sat around sharing stories and cooking dinner before retiring for the night. Everyone seems to happily and collectively agree on when bedtime is at each campsite: shortly after sunset, also called Hiker’s Midnight.

Shortly after we cozied into our tents or hammocks, a blood-curdling shrieking started off in the distance. A conversation between the tents quickly began about what was making the awful sound. I had no ideas other than from what I saw in scary movies. A local to the south was confident that it was a wild boar in distress. I made a joke about the two brothers in hammocks being an easy hog snack and everyone laughed… the brothers with a little nervousness in theirs. I wasn’t worried, I had earplugs.

PS – those who are asking about not receiving email notifications for our posts… we are not able to post daily. No need to fret, we’ll keep the content coming as time, cell phone service, and more hiking stories allow. 😉

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Comments 8

  • Avatar
    Mom : Apr 11th

    Loved waking up to see your post Nick. Glad you’re keeping a journal so you can share your stories with us – you’re a good storyteller!
    Also happy you got to spend a rest day at the B&B – after all – you are honeymooning ❤️
    Love you both!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Groomdaddy : Apr 11th

    So glad you are having a great time, Kara and Nick…wonderful read! Particularly fun is hearing about the community you are finding on the trail. Also relieved that Mr Bacon the Boar didn’t mow anyone down! Miss you both!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Kim : Apr 11th

      Really enjoyed reading your post! My husband and I start a section hike soon and we’re getting really excited. Have you found the trail/campsites/shelters to be crowded? Thanks and looking forward to following your journey!

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Kara : Apr 11th

        Thanks Kim! We’ve had no issues with finding a spot to camp here in GA. Not sure how things are further north. Enjoy the section hike!

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Debbie Heck : Apr 11th

    Very much enjoying your stories and your pictures! The loud shrieking in the middle of the night would have freaked me out, but at least you have ear plugs! 😆 Looking forward to more tales of the trail!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    delaine : Apr 12th

    great blog post! thanks for the fun details, nick. sounds like you guys are meeting LOTS of new people. i love people, but it seems a little overwhelming to be adventuring in a new place with new faces and personalities abounding. how has that been for you guys? i’d imagine it’s energizing and sometimes draining. hoping you all continue to be safe despite the nighttime terrors that seem to be recurring! the b+b sounds awesome. glad you could take a break from sleeping on the ground ;P

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Celeste Consbruck : Apr 12th

    My daughter Maggie and friend are a few days behind you. Nice to read what she will see in a day or two.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Suzanne Riley : Apr 14th

    Hilarious!!! I’m loving this, Nick. And CONGRATULATIONS to the both of you. Thank you for your enjoyable stories. Looking forward to the entire 10 months of this, as your Aunt Lori tells me it will take you at this pace. LOL. (I’m her old college roommate who asked to follow your inspirational story.) Best to you both, in your beautiful life’s story.

    Reply

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