Georgia: The Land of Trail Names and Trail Magic
Long time no chat! I definitely thought I’d be updating everyone on here more frequently, but I’ve found that when I get to town, I’m WAY more focused on getting town food and running errands than I thought I’d be. But I think it’s time I reintroduce myself! After being out on the trail for a week or so, I was given the trail name Sunshine by my dear friend Biggie. I wasn’t really a morning person when I started the trail, but one day I was super amped up when everyone else was still waking up and Biggie just said, “Ok, Sunshine!” The name just felt right, and because of my overall joy on trail and my absurdly loud laugh (my tramily says they know they’re getting close to camp when they hear my laugh through the woods), I decided to claim it. So hey, everyone, nice to re-meet ya!
Although I am long out of Georgia, I decided to break up my blogs by state to keep them a bit more organized (and less daunting) in my brain. In short, Georgia was a total dreamland! I spent the 78 miles of Georgia meeting some of the most incredible people I’ve met in my life, exploring cute towns and hostels, and enjoying trail magic at so many gaps I’ve now lost track!
In all honesty, I had a really difficult time when I first started the trail. I had my bag packed, my dad drove me to Springer Mountain, and instead of excitement all I felt was totally and completely freaked out. To convince myself to even step foot on trail, I set small goals for myself – make it to Neel’s Gap, make it to Around the Bend Hostel, make it to North Carolina, make it through the Smokies. But these goals wouldn’t have been achieved without the folks I’ve met out on trail. On my first day, I only hiked 8 or so miles before meeting a gal and hiking with her for the rest of the day. She now goes by Lobster Roll, and she and I hiked together on and off until Fontana Dam! Two amazing gals, Sarah and Jessica, talked with me about life and the trail around a campfire on our second night, totally reassuring me and giving me great advice from their section hiking experiences. My first tramily – Biggie, Dragonball, 5-0, Deets, Juanito, Jimmy, Emily, and Women’s Wear – provided the community, support, and laughs that got me through the first hundred miles of trail. The people make all the difference, and the community out here is unlike any I have ever experienced.
My favorite part of the trail has been the people I’ve met, and that’s still my answer when I’m asked hundreds of miles later.
Although Georgia is a relatively short mileage state, it is home to some cute towns and my favorite hostel on trail to date! I started the trail hiking 8-10 miles per day, so I spent about a week in Georgia. Getting into Neel’s Gap was a total dream, and I spent probably 3 hours hanging out, eating pizza, and talking to Just Bill about wind chimes and the best places to buy crystals in Sedona. I started hiking with Biggie after Mountain Crossings, and she and I decided to nearo into Helen, GA to avoid bad weather and experience the cute little German town! I really loved Helen, and even though it’s pretty early on in the trail, I would absolutely recommend the excursion. We got beer and vegan brats (very exciting when I was still vegetarian on trail!), walked around town, ate ice cream, and took some time to relax. It’s definitely very touristy, but I’m super into it.
The next time I hopped off trail was around mile 70 to stay at Around the Bend. ATB is still one of my very favorite hostels I’ve stayed in, and I definitely got sucked into the vortex. I ended up double zeroing there, partially because my Achilles tendon was bothering me, partly because of a rain storm, but mostly because I just didn’t want to leave. Lisa and Gordon’s home is adorable, and I was there with a very cool crew who played music and vibed really well. They also shuttled us into Hiawasee (where you can resupply at a real grocery store!), and they hosted an amazing massage therapist, Aya, who is one of the raddest people I’ve ever met.
Georgia is absolutely flooded with trail magic! I had always heard of trail magic when reading about the trail, but I never realized how much of a morale booster it really could be. My first experience with trail magic was on my second day, and it was a cooler filled with cold sodas and beer that the gals and I chugged immediately. There’s really nothing like a cold soda at 9 am to power you up the mountains of Georgia!
Another notable trail magic was on day 5 or 6, right after a night of rain. I remember this one in particular, because earlier that day I slipped on a wet rock and took my trekking pole straight to my face, splitting my lip. After Biggie checked to make sure my teeth were still there, we kept hiking down into a gap where we saw a few cars parked. I was craving citrus like crazy, and I said to Biggie, “I hope that’s trail magic, and I hope they have clementines.” Low and behold, we rolled up to a truck where the man was handing out clementines and bananas! I couldn’t believe it. I was having a rough day, and the trail absolutely provided.
Although it’s nice getting surprise food after days in the woods, my favorite part of trail magic is meeting the folks who provide it. Everyone has such incredible stories and connections to the trail, and I love the community that forms while sitting around the bed of a truck, exchanging stories and laughs. To everyone who provides trail magic, thank you thank you thank you!
I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog, but to summarize the past two months – it has been the best time of my entire life. I hope to write about my time in North Carolina and Tennessee soon, but most likely you’ll find me sitting in a grocery store parking lot chugging kombucha and eating hummus instead of in front of a computer these days. But I think that’s the whole point, right?
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