My First Week on The Trail
Oh my goodness, how to even sum up the last week in a single blog post? Well, ok to start, I left home on March 22, and stayed at Hiker Hostel my first night. Now, 7 days later I’m in Hiawassee GA, about 78 miles into the trail after my first near-0 and aiming for the North Carolina border this afternoon.
In the airport on my connecting flight to Atlanta from Philly I met my first AT friend, Jesse (now dubbed Iron Chef)–believe it or not hikers are surprisingly easy to spot in an airport. When I asked where he was from and he said Burlington, my face lit up, not only was I meeting my first trail friend, but he was a Vermonter too! We must have been on the same first flight together, though I feel lucky we didn’t meet then, as I was a teary mess the whole first leg.
When we got to Atlanta and took the train to the spot where our shuttle was to meet us we soon met Mike, or now “Rocky.” The three of us stayed at the Hiker Hostel, which for a place that caters to aspiring hobos couldn’t be a nicer and more friendly welcome to the trail. The next morning we were dropped at Amicolola State Park, which has the tallest falls east of the Mississippi. We started our hike at exactly 11:11am, any guesses what my wish was?
If you’re planning to do the AT someday and are trying to decide wether or not to do the approach trail, my advice is DO IT, after all, what’s 8 more miles on a 2000+ mile hike? To date though, those stairs were the only point at which I actively wished I had used my Planet Fitness membership a little more seriously.
The three of us hiked together to Stover shelter that night, after (I think) 11.6 miles. There were at least a dozen other hikers there, but I was the only female–which only registered to me after the conversation went to comparative knife sizes and smoking porn (which is apparently a thing in Wyoming?). As we sat around the fire one guy, Sam, said that when he was in Africa they would call the campfire “Bush TV,” to which Rocky responded “ATTV!” A term that has stuck.
The next day we hiked 13 miles to the packed Gooch Mtn Shelter. We met Cayman (now Bones) at Gooch, he had hiked over 16 miles that day, a feat inconceivable to me that night. The next day, the four of us hiked 16 miles into Neels Gap.
At Neels I stayed in the hostel while the boys stayed in nearby cabins. It was supposed to be a really cold night so everyone from all nearby shelters booked it into Neels that night to escape the cold. I split a big pizza with a girl who now goes by True Grit, and, it was absolutely the best pizza ever.
The next day we went about 19 miles to Blue Mountain Shelter. We were going to stop at 11, but the weather was too good to not take advantage of. That night, a guy (aptly) named Mutton Chops made a fire and we all stood around the ATTV as late as we could manage, which was about 9pm, or, “hiker midnight.”
From Blue Mountain we went 14 miles to Addis Gap, and it was a truly magical day- as at two separate road crossings we were met by trail magic. “Do you want a sausage biscuit?” Why yes, yes I do! The first group had driven from Alabama that morning, leaving at 3 am, to cook us some trail side breakfast. I’m still in awe and disbelief.
From Addis we did an easy 5.5 miles to Dicks Creek Gap where we got a ride into town and spent the night. Believe it or not, hot tubs, Mexican food, a few beers, and all you can eat buffets are a perfect remedy for a sore body.
I don’t know if I’ll hike 20, 200, or even 2000 more miles with this group, but for now I’m feeling very fortunate for such great company so early on. About a week before I hit the trail I attended a presentation by a woman who thru-hiked the trail last year who went by the name of Lady Gray. The theme of her talk was “the trail provides” so far, I think she was right. It’s provided me with friends and pure sunshine since we started the trail (until yesterday). Northern GA is beautiful, but requires clear skies to truly appreciate.
We’re hiking at a pretty fast clip, I feel good and strong- only injuries thus far being a few blisters and a dead big toenail- but it feels like I’m pushing myself an appropriate amount.
North Carolina, l’ll be seeing you today!
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