My family and girlfriend drove me up and dropped me off at Amicalola Falls State Park on Sunday February 13th. I got my AT tag, took the required arch pictures, and then got dropped above the falls because I was short on time. I started hiking around noon and got to the top of Springer around 2:30. Took some pics, talked to one other thru-hiker, and got rolling. I got to hike into the night and arrived at Gooch Mountain Shelter at 8pm after ~23 miles on the day. There was way more people there than I expected but nothing like the late March bubble in 2019.
Springer Start with great weather
The Ups of Thru-hiking
I got a slow start due to the cold, late night, and no need to rush on day 2. And after a mile I ran into my first trail magic – given out by the famous Fresh Ground of the Leapfrog Cafe. I got out of there quick after some food though due to the marathon day coming. Weather was a bit chilly but nothing too bad and I was making good time. I even found a coke left by my lovely parents at the next gap.
I did go slow up Blood Mountain but a snack fixed that. And then I hit the sun at the top, had the huge burst of joy, and damn near ran down the mountain to Mountain’s Crossing. Got a pizza and some drinks then hung out with some other hikers while eating. Everything that is perfect about being a thru-hiker.
Fresh Ground doing trail magic!
With ten more miles to go on day two I rolled my left ankle outwards and tumbled down slowly to avoid more damage. It was just a silly rock hiding under some leaves.
After gathering my thoughts, I went ahead and plowed the next ten miles to the shelter. With about a mile to go I barely rolled it again and that was when I realized how unstable my ankle was. It was hard to take a look at it in the dark without bothering my new shelter mates so I just fell asleep after 27 miles.
In the morning I realized how gnarly it looked so I pulled my escape plan. A wonderful friend from my first thru-hike who is also trail famous, Circuit Rider, connected me to locals who picked me up ten miles later at a gap. I spent the afternoon icing the ankle and making plans for the future.
Looks gnarly! But doesn’t really hurt. My foot looking like a balloon is worth a laugh
The ankle looks gnarly, but pain is minimal. After talking to a doctor friend and a PT friend I doubt I have fractures, especially after hiking 20 miles on it. I am going to take a few days to let the swelling go down.
Mentally I’m in a good headspace. Thru-hiking is all about overcoming obstacles and challenges. This is just the first of many this year.
I also have some time flexibility. Anything I don’t get done on the AT before heading west I will finish southbound in October and November.
Does this sting it happened so early? Sure. But I have handled it mentally better than I would expected. I’m locked into the mode of “obstacle happens” then work on devising solutions.
Keep hiking my friends.
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