First Days of Trail Life
We got up before sunrise and headed up to the Springer Mountain parking area after picking up a cup of coffee at McDonald’s. We skipped the approach trail, because who really needs to add 8 more miles to a 2189 miles hike? Just sayin’. We were finally on our way. We found out the next day that 74 people started this same day.
The trail begins deceptively calm, meandering among the forest floor of rhododendron plants. At midday we stopped and had a break and lunch by a beautiful waterfall. I ran around like a kid with my camera taking shot after shot. The weather being way warmer than MN at this time of year, I got hot and I removed my jacket and stuffed it next to my faithful companion Yuri on the outside of my pack. I guess you would call him my mascot. I had even made him this great backpack out of a caribou coffee bag. It actually had leather straps. Well some where between Stover Creek and Hawk Mt. Shelter. Yuri jumped ship. So this is a call out to anyone who might see him go to the Sisu Sistahood Facebook page and give me a shout out that you have him with you. My trail name is Sisu Sookie. I would like to get him back if possible.
Anyway, back to the trail. We saw the sign for the Hawk Mt shelter but there were these really small arrows that pointed down the trail. Us being novices to the whole trail, kept right on going and it wasn’t until mile 9 that we figured our screw up. We now had to make a decision. We didn’t have enough water for supper much less the next day when water was a long hike away. A young man listened to our dilemma and had extra water and gave us some. Thank you very much if he sees this post. Well, I set up my tent. Emptied out all my gear out of my tent, grabbed every container that I could and started the hike back. I was hoping I would be able to get water from a trickle of water that was going across the trail. I was also hoping it wasn’t very far and it wasnt (half a mile). I was glad I had my cup with me so I could wedge it down into the water which helped me fill our containers.
I have never been so glad to climb into a tent. It got cold during the night because we slept in a hollow or gap (?) so the wind just blows through. In the morning, something had been grubbing near my tent but I never heard it cause I wear ear plugs. Hahaha
I call this day, “A damn hard day!” We started out at 9:30 am which in our book is late but as the saying goes, ” No use crying over spilt milk.” To start with a hill is not quite the way to stretch our muscles, but I’m beginning to think that’s how it is done in Georgia. All ups must have downs and when we started the 5th one called Sassafras Mt. which started with switch backs, that gave us a clue of it’s height. I don’t have the guide book but anything over Minnesota’s 1400 ft elevation is high. I want to say it was 3800 or 4300 but who knows. The 6th and final climb of the day was Justus Mt. Now Justus wasn’t as tall, shorter by a few hundred feet, but the trail was at a steeper grade with less switchbacks. When we finally saw Justus Creek on the other side of this mountain I think we could have cried. I immediately grabbed out my cup and soaked my head with cup fulls of water. It was wonderfull. All kinds of hikers were gathered there soaking their feet and gathering water to drink. It was just a great time.
We had been making our way down to the creek for some time and now the trail led up and away from the creek. Steep steps had been built into the bank on 2 levels. Thinking about gaps in mountains there is always going to be a downhill and an up hill. I just like coming around the mountain rather than either of the other two. Haha
After a very long, hot day I made it to Gooch Shelter at 6 pm. My hiking buddy is my cousin, trail name Sisu Sadie, she is behind me and I yell back to her that tents are in site. She yelled back she was going to take a rest and I went of in search of a place to call home for the night. It was good to hear people talking, laughing and having a good time after such a hard day. During the day Sadie’s backpack had ripped and a buckle had broke. We knew we would spend the following day at Walasi-Yi Center getting a new pack for her.
My husband is a great man. He has been supporting this trip from the birth of this dream and is now our support team for our first week. During the night after making a bathroom run I checked my phone for the time and saw I had service. So, I texted him for a while and we set up plans for the next day, which included him delivering fresh food.
We left the shelter around 9:30 am. Okay, maybe this is our standard. We were one of the last to leave and remembered to sign the register before we left. A mile down the path, here comes Tom all bright and bushy tailed. I think I could have slept till noon. The first thing he pulled out of his pack was 2 fresh oranges. Yum. We then gave him Sadie’s pack lid which carries gear and her mats and then my lid. Off we hiked to Gooch Gap where he was parked. We found out that he had been looking for us the night before at Woody Gap. No one knew us or recognized us from the picture he showed hikers on his phone. On this day though, when he asked, everyone know us and they would say, “Ya we know them the Minnesota Girls.”
We left most of our gear with Tom, he would now drive to Woody Gap and hike towards us from there. We slack packed (hiking without a pack) to Woody Gap. Then we were off to get Sadie’s new backpack, water filters and knee braces. While there we had our packs weighed: Sadie 33 lbs and Sookie’ 30.
We decided to get off trail for the night so Sadie could reorganize her new pack, I could dump some more gear and we could clean up. I better get to bed it is 3:41 am and the trail is calling.Today we will be starting at Woody Gap and going over Blood Mt. slackpacking. The dawn awaits. Happy trials everyone.
(Just so everyone knows it’s note me posting my images every which way I have tried everything and some just post whatever way they want.)
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Love this! You go, Minnesota girls!
Fellow MN girl and BWCA enthusiast <3
Way to go Minnesota Girls!! I will be following and cheering for you all the way.