How My LASH (Long Ass Shakedown Hike) Began
Here We Go
The plans had been made, a list of things to do before I left was completed and there was nothing left but the drive to Amicalola Lodge for two nights before the start of my adventure. I was heading down to Georgia on February 9th and beginning on March 2nd so that I could have a few days to get this party started.
We arrived that evening, unloaded my stuff and went to dinner at the lodge. There was a group of Georgia DOT personnel having dinner after one of their group meetings, a few hikers and other guests of the lodge. All in all, there were not that many, much less than I expected, people there. One person did stick out. He was limping heavily and talking about how he had fallen. After dinner, we headed back to the room and watched TV, made calls and basically lounged around while of course checking my stuff, again.
The next morning the plan was to have breakfast and then head down to the visitor center with my pack to Register. We went down to breakfast and during one of my trips through the buffet line, I ran into the guy I saw limping the evening before. I had to know what happened. He had fallen mile three of his thru-hike attempt and was finished. He proceeded to explain that he was stepping onto a bridge not realizing how slippery the wood was and went down like a house of cards. I felt bad for the guy, but made a mental note to always step carefully onto bridges, steps, and boardwalks.
After breakfast, we headed down to the temporary visitor center to register, get my hang tag and number (#623), sit through orientation and weigh in. Other than being sure of your water sources and LNT comments, what stuck out more was the be careful where you poop. Especially if you are on a switchback. You might be closer to the trail than you think and it has happened. After finishing that, I headed over to the arch for the mandatory pics. At this time, I got my first taste of slackpacking as well.
I took my pack back to the car and put it in the trunk for my ride to take it back to the lodge while I hiked the approach trail from the arch up the 6 million steps to the top of the falls. This seemed much easier than wearing my pack after passing a few hikers struggling to the top with theirs and I found the decision sound. The rest of the day was spent exploring around the lodge and checking my pack and gear one last time in case I needed to run out last minute to grab something before starting my walk the next morning.
The rain that was forecasted came in and with it a tornado warning for that night and storms for March 2nd. Great….
The First Couple of Days
The morning of the 2nd was not too bad, chilly, but dry except for some puddles from the night before. No tornadoes. I started out at about 9 am and made my way to Springer Mountain in an on-and-off light rain for a good bit of the way. About a mile from the top, I met up with Gabi and we summited together, took each other’s pictures by the sign, and headed north. We went past the first shelter and stopped at Stover. We parted ways the next morning.
I woke up, packed up and headed north. Not too far out of Stover is a bridge. Standing on that bridge was another hiker taking a picture and we exchanged hellos. I moved on and shortly we caught up to each other again. He would later become known as Heimlich, you’re welcome for the name, and we would hike the next 620 or so miles together until I had to leave. He made it all the way. Congratulations, Heimlich. We were walking together at this point but got separated when he had to take a call. The plan was to stop at Gooch for the night.
On the way to Gooch, the bad weather started rolling in. It had been raining, but now it was getting serious. As I was topping a ridge with aluminum trekking poles in my hands, they began to tingle. I kind of ignored it but realized it was not stopping. I looked down at my hands and noticed the hairs on my arms and hands were standing straight up and kind of swaying. Oh shit, here is where and how I die. Lightening. Day 2. Great. They were right back home. I’m probably going to die. It never got worse than that.
Ten minutes after reaching Gooch shelter and being informed there were no spots in the shelter, but no one was sleeping on the picnic table if I was interested, a gully buster let loose and a river formed through the shelter area. It was over as quickly as it had started. I set up my tent, not on the picnic table, skipped dinner and went to bed thinking to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Have a Good Hike!
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