Georgia On My Mind

I have been on trail for nearly 2 weeks, and it already feels like so much has happened in that short period of time. I have met so many amazing people, formed a small early tramily, and sustained a few bumps and bruises. A few trail names have come to existence as well.


Amicalola to Neels Gap: growing pains and adapting on the go

Since I was staying at the lodge, I decided to get my registration and the dreaded stairs to the top of the falls out of the way on my first morning at Amicalola Falls State Park. This plan worked well as it allowed me one final shakedown before making my way to Springer. Once I reached the top of the falls, I ditched my boots and switched to shoes. I dropped a few other items out of my pack as well which so far has paid huge dividends. The following morning, I started from the top of the falls and started my long journey to reach Katahdin. The approach trail introduced me to an amazing group of people who all now have trail names, but more on that later.

We made it to Springer and set up camp at the shelter where I was the only one with a hammock. Only 12 of us were there, but we had a fun evening until it was time to go to sleep. There’s not much sleep to be had on your first night out. Your mind races and doesn’t want to turn off as all of the thoughts and questions run on a continuous loop to give you all the anxiety fuel you can handle.

Questions such as:

  • What was I thinking?
  • Why am I doing this again?
  • Did I pack the right gear?
  • Did I put all of my smellables in the bear bag?
  • What was that noise?

A massive storm rolled through, but at least I stayed dry. Over the next few days we stuck to an 8 mile per day pace going to Hawk Mountain, Gooch Gap, Lance Creek, and finally pushing through Blood Mountain to reach Neels Gap. The view from Blood Mountain was beautiful, but that climb and descent almost took me out with the pain in my knee. I was relieved to reach Neels Gap and spend a night at the cabins near Mountain Crossings to rest, resupply, and nero. I scarfed down nearly 3 whole pizzas within those 2 days. My knee was feeling ok to make the short hike to Bull Gap. From that day on, I’ve been making sure to tape my knee with kt tape and carry on with minimal pain. The vitamin I has been helping as well, but I’m keeping that use minimal.

Bull Gap to Hiawassee: I will not let Georgia defeat me

The weather has mostly been in our favor most of the days as we made our way over Blue and Tray Mountains as well as Kelly’s Knob to reach Hiawassee for basically a double zero since we reached it early enough in the morning. I busted my little toe on a log at Blue Mountain Shelter. I’m glad to say the toe is healing well. Resting in Hiawassee for 2 nights has been a good idea for me to let my body recover from what its been through so far, but damn I’m ready to be out of Georgia. Not trail related, but I’m a New Orleans Saints fan, and I will not let the home of the Atlanta Falcons be the end of my attempt to reach Katahdin.


The early tramily and trail names

One reason that I’m able to do this hike and enjoy it is the early tramily that I have bonded with since day 1. I tended to be the oldest member of the group, and thankfully they haven’t given me an elderly type of trail name for such. I did make it known that they couldn’t use my film industry or military careers to come up with a trail name for me if one were to form. Those in my tramily that have names are Toe Show, Dead Mouse, Dead Dad, NPR, Mooch, and Grandma.

Toe Show earned his on day 1 when he stumbled over a rock and it ripped his shoe clean across the top and exposed all of his toes. Dead Mouse earned hers after waking up at Gooch Shelter to find a dead mouse in her water bottle that she didn’t have a cap on because she was sleeping with her water filter to keep it from freezing. Dead Dad (his dad’s alive, don’t worry) made a gesture one night at a campfire in front of a rowdy but fun group. NPR, Nature Public Radio, because he has that smooth, calm, and soothing radio voice. Mooch, he’s not really a mooch, but for some reason hikers always offer him their extra snacks and food which he happily accepts. Grandma, she’s younger than me and doesn’t have grandchildren, but she’s always giving grandma-like phrases and sayings.

I too have recently, been given a trail name that’s starting to stick: Animal. I pour drink and/or food powder mixes straight in my mouth and chase them with my water, make grunt and growling sounds on the strenuous uphills when I’m pushing through without stopping, and so far other animals (mainly dogs) approach me when they shy away from others.



The Georgia section of the AT is quite the proving ground right out the bat. Take your time, enjoy it, and listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard or too far in a hurry. Find a support system or tramily , enjoy the views, laugh a lot, and take a ton of pictures.

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